The thought that Giannis Antetokounmpo’s season might be gone has long since been dispelled. The NBA Finals are still very much in the running after the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns 120-100 in Game 3 on Sunday. With the victory, Milwaukee cut Phoenix’s series lead to 2-1 heading into Wednesday’s decisive Game 4.
NBA Team has Ever Come Back From Down 3-0 in a Seven-Game Series and Won
I use the word “must-win” because no NBA team has ever come back from down 3-0 in a seven-game series and won. Antetokounmpo, for the second game in a row, responded to the Bucks’ desperation with a superb performance, scoring 41 points while also grabbing 13 boards and dishing out six assists. He made 14 of 23 attempts from the field. Most notably, he made 13 of 17 free throws, which is an incredible percentage.
After scoring 42 points in Game 2, Giannis’ performance on Sunday put him in rare company as just the sixth player in Finals history to score 40 or more points in consecutive games. LeBron James (the most recent to do so in 2016) is one of six players to accomplish so; the others are Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry West, and Rick Barry.
If we consider the fact that he also grabbed ten or more boards, we can check out every player on that list except Shaq and Giannis.
Are you ready for this? In the 1993 NBA Finals, Jordan played the Phoenix Suns. — had a streak of four games with at least 40 points. That’s GOAT madness on a level even Giannis can’t wrap his head around:
To be fair, Giannis is correct. Not even close to Michael Jordan. With these two consecutive 40-pointers in the Finals, however, he is halfway to Michael Jordan’s record and may need to come awfully close to matching it if Milwaukee is to win at least one of the next two games. The Bucks are outgunned by the Suns because Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, their second and third best players, have been inconsistent throughout the playoffs.
Holiday, who has shown up in Game 3 with 21 points, has had some great performances but has mainly struggled in his debut postseason with Milwaukee. There were 18 points contributed by Middleton. When combining their efforts, Holiday and Middleton made 8 of 17 three-point attempts.
The Bucks still need Middleton to heat up as the team’s primary scorer if they want to win the series, but with Giannis and Holiday making threes at a high clip, they have a great chance. Another thing I really liked about Game 3 was that Giannis wasn’t always driving headfirst into the wall.
When he did acquire the ball at the top of the key, he frequently went into a dribble-handoff or faked a DHO before continuing his dribble into the post if he liked his matchup and wanted to attack the middle of the paint before help could get there. He made his presence known, yet he didn’t lose it. It doesn’t matter that he only attempted two 3-pointers; that’s still too many. Those free throws he attempted were successful. The Bucks are back in the series thanks to a near-perfect performance by Giannis.