The Milwaukee Bucks are going to find themselves exiting quickly from the NBA Finals if they don’t figure out how to stop the Phoenix Suns. They are now down 2-0 after another strong performance from Chris Paul and the rest of the crew, with no clear attack plan in place. The Bucks have a couple of days off to figure out a new strategy, but it will have to be a doozy for it to work.
Suns Move Closer To Championship
Not even the 42 points put up by Giannis Antetokounmpo were enough to give the Bucks a win last night as they fell 118-108. Paul and Devin Booker responded every time he hit a basket, ending the night with 23 and 31 points, respectively. If the Greek Freak thought he would get some help from Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, he was wrong. They only combined to make 12 of 37 attempts.
The Suns landed 20 3-pointers, ending with a 50% success rate. That was the most they have ever scored in a game and it was enough to catapult Phoenix one step closer to the championship. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said after the game, “Paul and Booker attract a lot of attention, and particularly in the first half I think they made us pay a little bit for that extra attention on them. [Mikal] Bridges hit some shots. Crowder hit some shots. They make 20 3s tonight. And then they made some tough ones, too.”
Bucks Start Strong, But Falter
The Bucks seemed to be on track for a win through the first quarter. They outscored the Suns 20-0 inside the paint, committed no fouls and only had one turnover. However, the Suns didn’t let them gain an edge, answering each of their buckets to keep the score close. The second quarter saw the game take a turn after the Suns scored 30 points, outmanning the Bucks.
In the third quarter, Antetokounmpo finally found his footing, putting up 20 of the team’s 33 third-quarter points. It was the most the two-time MVP has scored in a single postseason quarter in his career, but he couldn’t compete against the Suns by himself. The game continued to be a race between the two teams, with the Suns enjoying a five-point lead with just under nine minutes left. Antetokounmpo took a tumble that forced him to the bench temporarily, and the Suns didn’t waste time taking advantage of his absence. They gained a bigger lead that only found minor threats from the Bucks until the clock expired.
Two Away From A Sweep
The Bucks appear to be on the ropes. They haven’t been able to figure out how to defend against Paul and Booker, leaving them in a bad spot. Not even some additional support from six-time MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who played for the Bucks for six years and led the team to its only NBA Championship, has been enough to light the right fires in the right places.
The Suns are too hot so far and aren’t slowing down. Game 3 will be a deciding moment for both teams, and a Phoenix win will all but guarantee they take the championship – the first in the team’s history. The Bucks will need to pull out everything they can from their bag of tricks if they want to stay alive, applying more pressure on the Suns’ top performers. Surprisingly, the Suns are now listed at +145 for the game, while the Bucks are getting -165, and an underdog bet is almost certainly going to bring extra value.