A couple of double-digit losses have the Milwaukee Bucks in what essentially amounts to a must-win spot in Game 3. Teams have a hard enough time coming back from being down 2-0 in the NBA Playoffs and, more specifically, the NBA Finals, but that quest could start on Sunday night if Milwaukee can get on the right track.
The Bucks are a four-point favorite with a total of 222 at Bookmaker Sportsbook for Game 3 on July 11. Giannis Antetokounmpo did everything in his power in Game 2 and it seems like the investment community believes that he is healthy enough to be worth his full value to the line.
Every starter finished in double figures for the Phoenix Suns in Game 2 and it was the recipe for success yet again. Devin Booker had a big game with 31 points, finding his range from deep, and Chris Paul had 23 points and eight assists to go along with his calming, veteran presence. Even Mikal Bridges got in the act with 27 points.
This is the reason why the Suns are in the Finals and have a 2-0 lead. Unselfish basketball. Four of the five starters had 10 field goal attempts in Game 2. The story was the same in Game 1. The Suns are getting offensive contributions from just about everybody and that makes the team extremely hard for opponents to defend.
That task gets even harder when Booker can go 7-of-12 from three. He was only 1-of-8 in Game 1 and scored 10 points at the free throw line. He had 31 without a single free throw attempt in Game 2. The Suns had 26 assists on 43 made shots in the game. The Bucks just don’t have any answers defensively. They can’t defend everybody and when they pick and choose, the Suns responsibly share the basketball.
It is not a coincidence that the Suns are third in assists per game in the playoffs with 24.2. It is not a coincidence that they are shooting 47.8% in the postseason. Everybody is getting into the act and opponents have not been able to slow down Phoenix’s balanced attack. The Bucks haven’t been.
The scariest thing about Game 2 is that Phoenix scored 118 points with only 12 free throws. The Suns scored 118 points in Game 1 and went 25-of-26 at the free throw line. They proved that they can cash in their chances from the floor as well.
So the Milwaukee Bucks need to find a way to defend. It looks as though we can consider Giannis Antetokounmpo as healthy as possible, as he had 42 points and 12 rebounds in the Game 2 loss. He was 11-of-18 at the free throw line, as the Suns had no problems putting him at the stripe. He was also 15-of-22 from the floor.
The problem on offense for Milwaukee is that everybody else was 27-of-71 from the field. Khris Middleton was 5-of-16 and Jrue Holiday was 7-of-21. Therein lies the problem in this series for Milwaukee. Just about everybody is scoring with some measure of efficiency for the Suns. The Bucks are not getting that at all. Even Brook Lopez only managed eight points in Game 2. Pat Connaughton provided a spark with 14 points, but when Pat Connaughton is third in points for the game, that is a huge red flag. Connaughton was the only Buck to make more than one three-point shot.
The Bucks only had nine turnovers to Phoenix’s 12. The Bucks pulled down 18 offensive rebounds. They got a huge game from Giannis. They lost by 10. There had to be a lot of soul searching on the flight home to Milwaukee to say the least.
Perhaps returning home will help Middleton and Holiday find their shooting strokes. The Bucks better hope so because Giannis can’t do it all himself. Middleton and Holiday are 28-for-77 in the series. A 36% FG% is not going to get it done, especially not with the shoddy defense that the Bucks have played in this series.
Suns vs. Bucks Free Pick
Getting back home could help Milwaukee tremendously. So could an extra day off since Game 3 is not until Sunday, which gives Giannis a bit of extra time. The Bucks regressed back to their old ways in Game 2, shooting just 29% on threes. Some home cooking could help, along with the chance to maybe get a more favorable whistle at home, though the Suns could match the Bucks in free throw makes with a much lower number of attempts.
Ultimately, while Giannis looks healthy and home court has flipped, the -4 price on the Bucks simply looks too high with how the series has gone.