Better Bucks: Milwaukee hopes continued improvement helps in game four and beyond


Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo reacts to a basket against the Phoenix Suns during the first half of Game 3 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Milwaukee, Sunday, July 11, 2021. Milwaukee won 120-100. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

(WFRV) – Even after dropping back to back games in Phoenix, the Bucks were in familiar territory heading back to Milwaukee.

In the last two series the Bucks are 1-3 in the first two games of the series. In both the Eastern Conference Finals and Semifinals they won game three to turn the series around.

Cold the same be true in the NBA Finals? Their performance in game three certainly gave Milwaukee hope they were following the same pattern.

“We felt like we got a little bit better from game one to game two, and hopefully we did the same thing going from game two to game three. I do believe there’s reverence points. There’s things that you can learn throughout the season. You’re just building habits, you’re building reference points that you can draw on that build confidence. That give you opportunities to go out and compete,” said head coach Mike Budenholzer.

The Bucks backcourt was much improved in game two. Point guard Jrue Holiday finished with 21 points and nine assists. Meanwhile Khris Middleton’s impact was felt all over the floor as he went from -15 in his 41 minutes on the floor in game two to +8 in game three.

“You know over the last couple days, we had a lot of conversations between ourselves about what we wanted to do out there, what we wanted to cover certain things and certain actions and what not. It’s just getting the feel for the other team, and figuring out what you can do best and how you can use the guys out there to your advantage,” said Khris Middleton.

Middleton has put together some of the best performances of his career during this postseason run. Especially when Giannis Antetokounmpo was sidelined with a hyperextended knee in the Eastern Conference Finals.

“You know, it started five six years ago. We’ve been in the conversation for about three or four years now. All with the pieces he’s brought in. People that he’s brought in to that lineup to help us keep working and growing our game. For me being an All-Star, I think that’s been a goal of mine since I came into the league. You could say as a kid growing up you always want to be an All Star, you want to be a champion,” said Khris Middleton.

You can’t preview a Finals game without talking about the reigning two time regular season MVP, Antetokounmpo. What Giannis has done in the NBA Finals has been historic, and draws comparisons to some of the games greats like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and LeBron James.

Giannis finished each of the last two games with 40 points and ten rebounds. The only players to do that in back-to-back games in NBA history to do that in the Finals is Shaq and LeBron.

At the same time the Bucks have been able to figure out ways to keep Antetokounmpo free from the so-called “Giannis Wall” against Phoenix.

“The key is you’ve always got to find the fun factor It is a compliment that there’s got to be three people in front from stopping me from getting in the paint, building that wall. Yeah, I hate it though,” Giannis said laughing at the end. “I hate it but at the end of the day I’ve got to figure out a way to play through it.”

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