The Bucks host the Suns Wednesday night as they look to even the series at two games apiece.
The Suns protected their home court with consecutive double-digit wins in Phoenix, and the Bucks answered back with a 20-point blowout win in Game 3 in Milwaukee.
The Suns cut the deficit to just four points in the third quarter, but Jrue Holiday hit two 3s in the next minute, and the Bucks never looked back.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 41 points and 12 rebounds, but can and the Bucks stay this hot in Game 4 on Wednesday?
Antetokounmpo has been incredible this series, but can he lead the Bucks to a second straight home win on Wednesday night?
Can the Sun Bounce Back?If the Suns win and cover as road underdogs, they need Paul and Booker to score and distribute efficiently while Deandre Ayton plays at a high level on both ends of the court. Dario Saric suffered a torn ACL in Game 1 and will miss the rest of the season.
I thought Devin Booker settled too often today. Didn't like this shot, for example, when Ayton is going to have a mismatch inside. Just let it develop and resort to a pull-up jumper late in the clock if necessary pic.twitter.com/sOuOZqiGBA— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) July 12, 2021
If the Suns’ offense hopes to pick up where they left off in Phoenix, they need to continue staying a step ahead of the Bucks’ defense with excellent execution. The Suns consistently were ready for the Bucks’ defensive coverages in the first two games and had counters ready to attack them. The Suns’ offense struggled in Game 3 as Ayton got into foul trouble in the first half and Booker had an off-night as he made just one of seven threes and scored 10 total points on 14 shots.
Without DiVincenzo available, the Bucks’ defense will always have at least one player whom Paul or Booker can attack, and they must continue scoring efficiently. Booker needs to bounce back in Game 4 and take smart shots. Jrue Holiday has held Booker to one of 12 from the field when guarding him this series, and the Suns should try and get Booker looks against other defenders as much as possible.
Paul and Booker’s decision-making will be key in Game 4, and the Suns must limit their turnovers to keep the Bucks out of transition. The Suns shot just 29% on threes in Game 3, and they will need Paul and Booker to get them better shots in Game 4 if they hope to return home with a chance to close out the Bucks. Jae Crowder had a huge Game 3 as he connected on six of seven threes and scored 18 points - the second-most on the team in Game 3.
When Booker and Paul create advantages, shooters on the wing like Mikal Bridges, Crowder, and Cameron Johnson need to make shots efficiently. Bridges showed off his deep bag in Game 2 as he scored from all three levels, and his ability to not only make open shots but also relocate and find the weak spots in the defense has been impressive all year long. Bridges needs to bounce back after a quiet Game 3 where he scored just four points and didn’t make a three.
Cameron Payne will also play a key role as a shot creator off the bench who can also make shots off the ball. The Suns will need Bridges, Torrey Craig, Crowder, and Johnson to step up alongside Ayton inside as they try to make up for their lack of a reliable backup center after Saric’s injury.
Antetokounmpo dominated Game 3 as he went a perfect 13 for 13 at the rim, and the Suns need more resistance inside. Ayton will play a key role defensively in guarding Antetokounmpo and staying out of foul trouble. The Suns will need to try and tread water when Ayton rests while he continues to step up and play about 40 minutes.
Can the Bucks Even the Series?If the Bucks win and cover as home favorites, they will need Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday to both score efficiently and often alongside Antetokounmpo. Donte DiVincenzo (foot) remains out for the rest of the postseason.
Antetokounmpo dominated in Games 2 and as he recorded at least 40 points and 10 rebounds in each game He needs to stay aggressive despite any struggles from the foul line, limit his jump shot attempts, and put pressure on the rim as much as possible. If he can get Deandre Ayton in foul trouble again like he did in Game 3, the Bucks will be in a great spot.
After Antetokounmpo went out for the last two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, Holiday turned his game up a notch as he was much more aggressive offensively as he averaged 26 points and 11 assists. Holiday used his wide frame to overpower smaller defenders and get to the basket while utilizing the space that Antetokounmpo would normally command.
He needs to be aggressive continue getting downhill as much as possible to either get to the bucket or create quality looks for teammates. He also needs a few threes to fall as he has shot just 30.6% on threes in the postseason, and any spacing help he can provide for Antetokounmpo will be important. Holiday had a huge Game 3 as he scored 21 points on just 14 shots as he made five of 10 threes, and if he can as score efficiently on Wednesday, the Bucks should win Game 4.
Great question.— ShotQuality (@Shot_Quality) July 13, 2021
Bucks Frequencies of Drives to the Basket on offense:
Game 1: 41%
Game 2 & 3: 47%
And more importantly, those shots were way easier and higher quality of looks:
Game 1: 1.35 expected PPP
Game 2 & 3: 1.43 expected PPP https://t.co/nmiBmpStHB
Middleton will play the most important role for the Bucks as he is the only true three-level scorer on the team. He must score efficiently for the Bucks to win or cover, and if this is a close game down the stretch, he will need to close the game out with his elite contested shot making. Like Holiday, he only took 14 shots in Game 3 but was efficient as he scored 18 points and connected on three of seven three-pointers.
Brook Lopez will play a key role anchoring the Bucks’ drop defense, and he must keep Paul and Booker from both getting to the rim and their go-to elbow jump shots. The Bucks overall did a much better job of defending the Suns in Game 3 with better help defense and less over-helping as they limited the number of open three-point attempts for the Suns. The Bucks need some shooting regression to go their way in Game 4 as the Suns’ shooters regress on the road while the Bucks continue to play quality defense.
Perimeter shooters like P.J. Tucker, Bryn Forbes, Bobby Portis, Jeff Teague, and Pat Connaughton must also step up. The Suns are one of the elite shooting teams in the NBA, and the Bucks’ three-point shooters need to elevate their game at home. Portis and Tucker need to crash the glass and create second-chance looks. Forbes in particular needs to shoot efficiently to make up for his glaring defensive shortcomings.
- Bucks are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 home games.
- Bucks are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
- Bucks are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Bucks are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games as a favorite.
- Suns are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games playing on 2