As you could’ve guessed, Bucks fans were ready to cheer for their hometown squad in their first NBA Finals appearance in 47 years. Fiserv Forum was absolutely insane to start this one off. However, just like they have all year long, the Phoenix Suns came to play. Riding Deandre Ayton and his 12 first quarter points, they earned a 28-25 lead after the first 12 minutes of play.
The Bucks would play arguably their best quarter of basketball in the second quarter of this one. Crisp ball movement, strong shot selection, and an impeccable energy helped them capture a 15-point advantage at the break. Bobby Portis also came off the bench in a huge way, providing an immediate spark for Milwaukee. This would also mark the first “BOB-BY!” chants of the Finals.
The third was a quarter of runs. The Bucks would see their lead evaporate (with Deandre Ayton on the bench with foul trouble) to just four points thanks in large part to the stunning play of Cam Johnson off the bench. However, the Bucks didn’t falter. Instead, they’d bounce right back and open up a double-digit lead again. They’d actually open a 20+ point lead, as a Pat Connaughton triple to close out the quarter gave Milwaukee a 98-76 lead going into the fourth.
From there, the Bucks would be able to close things out. Phoenix would never really come into shouting distance, and Milwaukee was able to put the final touches on their first NBA Finals victory since 1974. They’re now down 2-1 in this series and will look to even things up Wednesday in Game 4.
Stat That Stood Out
I could go with Giannis for here, but I already had typed this out before he scored his 40th point. Look for more on that in my Extended Recap. One of the large keys coming into this series was Deandre Ayton. The Bucks knew that if they could get him into foul trouble, it could create problems for Phoenix. Tonight, that finally happened for Milwaukee. Ayton would pick up his third foul early in the third. The Suns would come to life after he hit the bench, but the Bucks did capitalize the majority of the time he was on the pine — including the closing out of the third period. Ayton would continue to pick up fouls in the fourth and finish with a total of five on the night. The Suns are thin at the big position and Milwaukee was able to exploit that tonight, which helped put them in position to win this game.