24 Thoughts on Game 3 of 2021 NBA Finals

Giannis Antetokounmpo joins Shaq as the only players to post 40+ points and 10+ rebounds in consecutive Finals games.

Two days off. A change of venue. It’s Game 3 of the 2021 NBA Finals from Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. Can Milwaukee get back into this series? Can Phoenix keep the “Suns in Four” hopes alive by getting a win on the road?

Here are 24 thoughts on Game 3 as it unfolded in Milwaukee on Sunday night …


1 — Is being back home the answer for the Bucks? They are 7-1 at home and two key players — Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday — have played much better at Fiserv Forum this postseason. The Bucks’ season isn’t technically on the line since this isn’t an elimination game, but this is as close to a must win as you can get. As a reminder, no team has ever overcome an 0-3 deficit in the history of the NBA playoffs.


2 — Giannis setting up his teammates early — assists on Milwaukee’s first two baskets, including the opening bucket of the game — a corner 3 by Jrue Holiday, who the Bucks need to get going in this series.


3 — Giannis getting his points as well — grabs the offensive rebound over Devin Booker, gets the putback, and-1. A few Suns fans in attendance counted during Giannis’ free-throw attempts, but it was drowned out by cheers as Giannis knocks it down.


4 — After making that free throw, Giannis signals to the bench to be subbed out just 3 1/2 minutes into the game. No doctors come to him on bench, just a quick trip into the tunnel, seems to be okay. Bucks fans can exhale.


5 — Deandre Ayton with a strong start for the Suns with a quick six points, two boards and steal in the game’s first six minutes.

Ayton with a jump hook over Connaughton – up to 8 points

Ayton has Holiday defending him, pinned him in the paint and got an easy layup — he’s got 10 of Phoenix’s 18 points


6 — Another ball movement clinic from Phoenix leads to a Jae Crowder 3-pointer. The Suns have six assists and are shooting 63% to start the game. Strong start on the road.


7 — I mean if Chance the Rapper is going to show up to any game during The Finals it makes sense for it to be Game 3. Match the hat with the game ticket.


8 — Suns lead 28-25 at the end of the first quarter. The Suns are 12-1 this postseason when either tied or leading after 1st quarter; 3-2 when trailing. And they’ve done it with Devin Booker shooting just 1-for-7.


9 — Bucks force back-to-back turnovers to open the second quarter and take a 30-28 lead as Middleton gets to the basket for the layup and-1, earns his first trip to the free throw line for the series with 11 minutes left in the second quarter of Game 3.


10 — Nice pick and roll by Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton as Paul reads the trap and gets Ayton a dunk. After Jeff Van Gundy quoted JAY-Z in Game 2, he’s now quoting Russian poet Joseph Brodsky in Game 3 when discussion pick-and-roll defense.

Speaking of Ayton, who is having a great first half, have to five a shout out on this jacket choice.


11 — PJ Tucker has made a few great hustle plays in the first half, including this one as he rebounds the Brook Lopez airball and finds a cutting Giannis for the huge dunk to force a Suns timeout.


12 — The Bucks are rolling in the second quarter, they’re on a 20-6 run to take an eight-point lead and force another Suns timeout.


13 — The “Bob-by, Bob-by, Bob-by” chants have broken out in Fiserv Forum as Bobby Portis increase the Bucks lead to 10 with a dunk, then to 13 with a triple.


14 — The Bucks finish the half on a 30-9 run to take a 15-point lead into the locker rooms. It’s been a while since the Suns have trailed by 15.


15 — After the Suns score the first four points of the half, Deandre Ayton picks up his fourth foul and heads to the bench. The Suns go small with Cam Johnson replacing Ayton, show some zone defense.



Cam Johnson with a head of steam, gets the pass and elevates as Tucker tries to establish position for the charge. It’s called a block, but Milwaukee challenges the call.

The call stands.


17 — Suns are making a run to get back into this. They scored seven straight to cut the lead to six (69-63), but Jrue Holiday answered with a three. In Game 2, the Suns had an answer for every Bucks run. Can the Bucks do the same here and hold off a Suns rally?


18 — A big downside of going small and playing zone, the Suns are getting eaten alive by the Bucks on the offensive glass.


19 — Timeout in the game = check Twitter for more angles of that Cam Johnson dunk


20 — Milwaukee rims are doing their job tonight — Giannis is sinking free throws (9-for-12) and Booker still can’t buy a bucket (3-14 FGs)

Giannis with another putback bucket for Milwaukee, grabs his own miss, hits the layup, plus the foul, and of course, sinks the free throw. Bucks up 16, their largest lead of the series.


21 — The Suns shot 12-for-19 from the field and knocked down four 3-pointers in the third quarter, but saw their deficit increase from 15 points to 22 points as the Bucks close the third on a 16-0 run.

Giannis with 34 points, 12 rebounds and six assists through three quarters. He joins some elite company with that feat.


22 — Chris Paul with the crossover on Giannis and hits the fade-away jumper over Giannis outstretched arm. Incredible play, but it won’t be enough tonight. “Suns in Four” had a great run, but it’s not going to happen this time around.


23 — Giannis now has back-to-back Finals games with 40+ points and 10+ rebounds, joining Shaq as the only  players to accomplish that feat in The Finals. Also first time for Giannis in his career (regular season or playoffs). The game is essentially over at this point, all that’s left to be determined is the final score.


24 — Bucks win 120-100 to pull within 2-1 in the series. Giannis with another remarkable performance (41 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 14-23 FG, 13-17 FT). I still can’t get over the fact that it looked like he was done for the year about 11 days ago.

Kirk Goldsberry with the stat of the night:

The message after Game 2: Giannis needs help. The message coming out of Game 3: Giannis got help.

After both games of during the season series were decided by one point (both Suns wins), each game in The Finals has been decided by double digits. But look at that composite score: Suns 336, Bucks 333.

Game 4 is set for Wednesday. I don’t know who needs the two days rest more: the players or the Bucks fans, who were going crazy all night long both inside and outside the arena.