After a fantastic Game 3 victory in which they won 120-110, the Milwaukee Bucks will be looking to even up this NBA Finals series at two games apiece against the Phoenix Suns.
They will stay home at Fiserv Forum, where they have been absolutely magnificent this season.
After scoring 41 points and securing 13 rebounds in both Games 2 and 3, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo became the second player in Finals history to record back-to-back 40+ points and 10+ rebounds games in the NBA Finals.
The first player to do so was none other than Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal back in 2000.
Game 3 was largely a blowout for most of the game, as no Suns player was able to reach 20 points.
Their playoff scoring leader Devin Booker was kept in check, only notching 10 points on 3/14 shooting. Fellow star and current NBA Finals MVP favorite Chris Paul scored 19 points and dished out 9 assists in 34 minutes during the frustrating loss.
Stats wise for the Bucks, they got production from the players they have needed to step up. Jrue Holiday finally turned in a good game for his team, tallying 21 points, much of them from downtown, where he made five 3-pointers.
Khris Middleton added 18 points to make it 80 points scored between the three Milwaukee stars.
Tip-off for what should be an exhilarating Game 4 is at 9 p.m. ET from Milwaukee. PointsBet Sportsbook lists Milwaukee as a four-point home favorite, while the over/under or the total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored is 220, sometimes ranging to 220.5 on PointsBet.
Can the Bucks even the series up at 2-2?
For the first time in this series, the Suns were met and challenged by the Bucks with a variety of different looks and shot attempts that they hadn’t seen.
The Bucks were able to get to the free-throw line more often, and Giannis was obviously the big force there. Without away fans being able to heckle him from the line, Giannis shot for his standards an amazing 13-17 from the free-throw line.
The Bucks also scored five more three-pointers over the course of the game than the Suns.
In Games 1 and 2 in Phoenix, the Suns were able to take strangleholds of those games due to their split between low-valued mid-range shots and their three-point ball. On the series, they are shooting 50% from mid-range and 40% from three, the best numbers vs the Bucks all postseason.
But that changed slightly in Game 3. While they were still effective from the mid-range with some of the best in the game in Devin Booker and Chris Paul, they fell short from deep, only hitting 32% of their shots.
The Suns have struggled a ton this whole season when Booker has struggled to get it going, and that seems to be what is occurring recently in the NBA finals.
He is averaging 22.7 points per game on 38% shooting, which is pretty awful. He has especially struggled when All-Defensive first-team guard Jrue Holiday has been given the matchup.
If the Bucks continue to plaster Holiday on Booker at all times on the defensive end, they will continue to have success.
After the game, Suns coach Monty Williams was frustrated at both the play of his team and the officiating of the game.
The Suns finished with just 16 attempted free throws as a team, one less than Giannis had as a singular player, but Williams had no room to argue or complain.
With Dario Saric now missing from the Suns lineup, DeAndre Ayton is their main line of defense in the paint, and much of the time, when Giannis was fed the ball, the Suns opted to hack him or foul in order to send him to the line.
It was not a case of bad officiating and more of a defensive mismatch on the interior.
In response to the great interior attack they displayed in Game 3, the Bucks will most likely be met with collapsing defense from the Suns, opening up the dish towards the three-pointer.
Heading into this series shifting Game 4, I feel no other choice but to back the Milwaukee Bucks to even up this series.
They have only lost one game from Fiserv Forum all postseason and had it not been for a fantastic shooting Game 1 and 2 from the Suns, and they would’ve been up in this series.
The Bucks have the advantage in almost every statistical category heading into this game, including rebounding and points in the paint. But if the Suns can limit their interior attack, look for the Bucks to shoot from the perimeter, something they were the best at doing during the regular season.
With a Milwaukee win in this game, the series would head back to Phoenix tied, and from there, it is a three-game series remaining for the coveted Larry O’Brien trophy.
Picks: Bucks -4 (-115), over 220.5 (-110)