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Giannis Antetokounmpo Destroyed The Suns To Get The Bucks A Game 3 Win

Game 3 of the Bucks-Suns series started as so many have, with each team trading blows early and the Suns starting to open up a healthy first quarter lead while Milwaukee struggled shooting from long-range. The Suns led 28-25 after one quarter of play in Milwaukee thanks in large part to the play of Deandre Ayton, who dominated with 12 points in the opening frame as he took advantage of the Bucks’ switching defense early.

Chris Paul also had a nice start with 10 points and four assists, but aside from those two, the Suns struggled to get consistent production. After shooting 50 percent from three-point range in Game 2 at home, Phoenix was ice cold from deep on the road, going 2-for-14 from distance in the first half. Milwaukee wasn’t significantly better, 5-of-18, but they were able to more consistently get themselves to the rim — in part due to their ability to get out and run off of misses from Phoenix — and that proved to be the catalyst for a big second quarter push.

Leading the charge in the second was Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 18 points in the first half to go along with eight boards and four assists, as he did a bit of everything for the Bucks who were far more assertive than they had been in the first two games of the series.

The Bucks defense was the catalyst for their second quarter run, as they smothered the Suns’ playmakers, particularly Devin Booker, who was just 2-for-11 in the first half for seven points, as Khris Middleton, PJ Tucker, and Jrue Holiday were aggressive in pressing Booker and making the Phoenix star uncomfortable.

Middleton also got himself going after some struggles on the road to open the series, scoring 15 points with five assists and four rebounds in the first half as Milwaukee started to break down Phoenix’s defense to take a 60-45 advantage into the break.

The third quarter started with the two teams trading buckets, as the Suns simply had no answers for Giannis inside, but were finally able to see a pair of threes go down courtesy of Jae Crowder.

The best moment of the game for the Suns came in the mid third quarter when Cam Johnson did something no one in the building was expecting when he took off and hammered home an and-1 dunk on top of PJ Tucker — the Bucks challenged the block call and were unsuccessful, allowing everyone instead to just watch dozens of replays of Tucker’s massacre.

That proved to be the catalyst for an extended run, led by Johnson who had 10 points in the first seven minutes of the third, that got Phoenix within four of Milwaukee.

However, Jrue Holiday, who has been dreadful shooting the ball all series, was able to come back with two huge three-pointers to keep the Suns at a distance. From there, the two teams traded buckets as with Ayton out with four fouls, the pace picked up on both sides with small-ball and shots started to fall from long-range on both ends.

However, the Bucks were just relentless on offense. Holiday continued his hot shooting, knocking down a fourth three late in the third and then, from there, Milwaukee had Giannis and Phoenix — which somewhat bizarrely never put Ayton back in the game in the third — had no answers.

Giannis finished with 16 third quarter points, feasting inside with Ayton out and also connecting on most of his free throws, and he finished off the quarter with a great read and find of Pat Connaughton for a three to put Milwaukee up 22 going to the fourth.

The fourth quarter was more of the same involving Antetokounmpo, as he was absolutely relentless attacking the basket on his way to back-to-back 40-point games in the Finals.

Ayton picked up his fifth foul early in the fourth and again went straight to the bench, as he was held ineffective in the second half by foul trouble and Monty Williams not allowing him to play through it. Ayton finished with 18 points and nine rebounds after such a dominant start, and the Suns couldn’t figure out how to patrol the paint without him. Frank Kaminsky’s minutes were disastrous, and while the small-ball lineups scored well, they couldn’t do anything to slow the Bucks down. Figuring that out going forward is going to be critical for Phoenix without Dario Saric for the series, as there will be another game where Ayton finds himself in foul trouble and Williams is either going to have to trust him to play through it or figure out some kind of miraculous coverage to slow down Giannis when Ayton sits.

Elsewhere for Phoenix, Chris Paul was very solid with 19 points and nine assists, while Jae Crowder was 6-of-7 from deep for 18 points, but they just couldn’t get consistent production from anyone else. Devin Booker sat for much of the second half, as Williams seemed to punt on this game to get his guys some rest going forward with Ayton and Booker playing 24 and 29 minutes, respectively. Booker had just 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting and getting him some rest might prove prudent longterm as this series seems likely to tighten up.

For Milwaukee, it was a game they needed to have with a rather stress-free 120-100 win where all of their key guys had excellent performances. Giannis was, obviously, the focal point with 41 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists as he continues to level up this postseason with monster showings night in and night out. More importantly, though, Holiday and Middleton got going at various points in Game 3 and that has to be a sight for sore eyes in Milwaukee. Those two combined for 39 points, 15 assists, and 12 rebounds, providing Antetokounmpo with the support he needs and showing how tremendous this team can be when all three of their stars are rolling.

We now find ourselves with what looks to be a far more competitive series going forward and Game 4 will feel like a pivotal moment in these Finals. Milwaukee will look to hold serve at homecourt and send things back to Phoenix tied at 2-2, while the Suns will look to shake off a rough shooting night from Devin Booker and figure out something else defensively to swipe one on the road and make Game 5 a closeout opportunity at home.

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