The Phoenix Suns may be leading the NBA Finals 2-1 after three games of the seven-game series, but there are ominous signs that the beast that is Giannis Antetokounmpo may be set to take over the series.
After recovering from what did look like a season-ending injury at one point to play a part in the first game against the Suns in the NBA Finals, Giannis wasn’t quite at his sharpest best, scoring 20 points with 17 rebounds as the Suns took the lead with a 118-105 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
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In the second game at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Giannis was the dominant individual player on display with 42 points and 12 rebounds but once again, he could not stop the Bucks going down to another 118-108 defeat.
However, back at the Fiserv Forum for Game 3, Giannis put up a second consecutive 40+ point game, amassing 41 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists and this time he received more support from his team as the Bucks earned an impressive 120-100 win on Sunday night.
We go again in 48 hours. pic.twitter.com/GZun4A2acP
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) July 13, 2021
For the Suns, this defeat was something of a reality check after two exceptional team performances, led by the venerable Chris Paul, saw them manage to hold off Giannis and the rest of the Bucks team.
In the third game though, while Giannis went for 41 points, no Suns player scored over 19 points, and none hit double figures for rebounds or assists.
With Jrue Holiday contributing 21 points, Khris Middleton adding 18, the Bucks finally found the support that Giannis has been craving to make this series much more competitive.
And with Game 4 in the Finals coming up tomorrow night, it promises to be a hugely decisive evening in the quest to become NBA Champions.
Deandre Ayton’s Key Role For Suns
He may not be quite as eye-catching on offense as Chris Paul or Devin Booker, but Deandre Ayton’s value to the Suns team was clearly evident in Game 3.
After scoring 16 points in the first 15 minutes of the game, he picked up his fourth foul still with 10.25 left in the third quarter. At risk of fouling out, he was forced to sit out the rest of the third and when he returned, the Bucks had leapt into a 22-point lead.
Ayton has been the key to slowing down Giannis’ production for the Bucks, but when he is on the bench, Giannis has run riot over the Suns defense. A fact which Chris Paul readily acknowledges.
“It’s tough man,” stated Paul after Game 3. “Giannis coming at you full speed like a running back. He’s trying to put his hands up, but it’s tough.”
Suns coach Monty Williams acknowledged Ayton’s absence impacted his team.
“He just had a good game going, but the foul trouble didn’t allow for him to continue it.” Said Williams after the defeat.
Crucial Game Four On Wednesday Night
This sets up a crucial game four on Wednesday night. With the Suns leading the series 2-1, a win for them here would allow them the chance to win the Championship on home soil in Game 5.
A defeat, levels the series at 2-2 and means that the teams will have at least one more home court game apiece. With a potential seventh-game decider looking likely.
BetRivers Sportsbook currently has the Bucks as the -4.5 favorites to win the game and level the series. Giannis and the Bucks are -190 on the money line to take a victory on Wednesday, with the Suns rated as the slight +155 underdogs.
My tip here is for this to be a closer contest than the previous game but for the Bucks to level the series with a narrow win to set up a massive Game 5 in Phoenix at the weekend.