Well, that was an entertaining ugly game of basketball. There will be at least a Game 5 in this series. In an ugly game of basketball, the Milwaukee Bucks were able to knock off the Brooklyn Nets, 86-83.
After that disastrous start to Game 2, Bucks fans everywhere were hoping to see more energy and effort (sorry for the Jason Kidd PTSD) — and they got it in the first quarter. Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, both of which came finally came alive, the Bucks scorched Brooklyn for 30 points in the first quarter. Going into the second, the Bucks led commandingly, 30-11.
The first points from anybody not named Giannis Antetokounmpo or Khris Middleton would come in the second quarter, when Jrue Holiday put a bucket in. Then, as quickly as it was built up, the Bucks’ lead started evaporating, as Brooklyn would embark on a 17-2 run. Milwaukee would end up just scoring just 15 points in the period, but they’d still hold a 45-42 lead at halftime.
The intensity was palpable during the third, as the score would remain close between the two teams. It’d especially get dramatic when PJ Tucker and Kevin Durant got involved in a scuffle, resulting in teammates gathering, along with security guards. Brooklyn was able to just chip into Milwaukee’s lead by a single point in the third. Going into the fourth, Milwaukee clung to a 67-65 lead.
The fourth quarter would be putrid basketball, with both teams struggling to score baskets. Down the stretch, baskets would be traded back-and-forth. Then, with less than 90 seconds left, Kevin Durant connected on a contested 3-point shot. However, down on the other end, Jrue Holiday connected on a spinning lay-in. Kevin Durant would then be unsuccessful in his 3-point shot attempt to tie it, giving the Bucks a crucial 86-83 win.
What Did We Learn?
We learned that Giannis Antetokounmpo, can in fact, be aggressive. He went from 15 shots in Game 2 to 31 in Game 3. Early on in the first quarter, it was clear that his mission was to get to the basket at all costs. He exhibited his will against Blake Griffin and stormed out to a massive scoring output, which helped Milwaukee capture that big opening lead. The trouble was that he sort of diminished that demeanor and would attempt eight 3PA. We’ll see what that marriage between driving and shooting is for Game 4 on Sunday, but for the most part, it was nice to have a 30+ point performance from Antetokounmpo.
Khris Middleton led all scorers with 35 points on the evening. Giannis Antetokounmpo was just behind him, concluding his outing with 33 points. No other Bucks scorer etched double-digits.
For Brooklyn, Kevin Durant served as the leading scorer with 30 points. Kyrie Irving would also pour in 22 points of his own.
It was very nice to have contributions from both Giannis and Khris in the same game again.
I discussed Giannis above, so this will primarily be about Khris. After such a poor start to this series, it was so welcoming for the Bucks to have his style of play back out there on the floor last night. Middleton would explode for 35 points on the evening, going 3-of-6 from deep. He also connected on two late free throws that padded the three point lead for Milwaukee. How big was the pairing of Middleton and Antetokounmpo last night? Take a look at this stat:
Giannis Antetokounmpo (15) and Khris Middleton (15) scored the first 30 points of the game for the @Bucks.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 11, 2021
That's the most consecutive points scored by two teammates to start a playoff game in the last 25 years.
h/t @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/c3PL7erW7l
Also, shoutout to Middleton for his 15 rebounds. That was a game-high, along with his points.
While he didn’t have his best game, Jrue Holiday produced when it mattered the most.
Sure, it may not have been as productive of a game as Bucks fans would’ve liked to see, but Jrue Holiday still showed his aggressiveness late, and it helped Milwaukee win this basketball game. In his postgame availability, he mentioned how Bud was telling him to push it on that late possession — and that’s exactly what he did, spinning and laying it in, providing a lead for Milwaukee that they wouldn’t relinquish. In his postgame availability, Budenholzer mentioned how despite it being a rough night for Holiday, he still showed up. He really attributed his finishing at the basket and how he was able to get the team the one they needed. However, you know that Holiday will want to contribute with more than nine points on Sunday, and it’ll be intriguing to watch how he performs.
Giannis’ 3PA are quite troubling at times.
As I briefly discussed above, Giannis Antetokounmpo would attempt eight 3-point shots on the evening, which was the most on the Bucks and tied for Kevin Durant. These shots are very frustrating for the Bucks at times, as it’s essentially a turnover. Sure, he connected on a big one late, but still seven misses are not what you want to see in the playoffs. It was quite interesting hearing the collective groans from the Fiserv Forum whenever he took a shot. How will he perform on Sunday? Will he have anywhere near the eight 3PA he took last night? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Bruce Brown was big for the Nets last night, and provided some frustrations on Milwaukee’s end. He’d connect on multiple floaters in the first half as the Bucks defense would sag on him.
- PJ Tucker. My goodness. He didn’t score a single point, but he impacted the game by getting in a scuffle with Kevin Durant. That brought the crowd to its feet and really had everyone turned against KD from that point onward.
- Brook Lopez had a massive effort on the defensive end. He’d conclude his evening with six blocked shots, and was a massive presence down low. It was clear that it made an impact for Milwaukee and he’ll strive to do that again in Game 4 on Sunday.
- Kyrie’s ballhandling is just mesmerizing. I think he’s easily the best ballhandler in the league, with Steph being the only one that is somewhat close to him.
- Do you know how dogs get zoomies? That’s what Thanasis looked like on this possession:
Brook and Thanasty get the crowd roaring!! pic.twitter.com/5UTSDPERUm— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) June 11, 2021
- So, how about those Green Bay Packers and their basketball skills?