The Milwaukee Bucks didn't look like they had a chance as they were beaten by double digits in each of the first two games of the NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns. But coming home proved to be quite an elixir, as they rolled to a decisive win.
Can they take something from that game and tie the series up? That's what BetOnline customers really want to know, as Game 4 gets underway at 9 PM ET at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.
Here are the NBA Finals odds on the game, which show the Bucks laying some points. They easily covered the spread in Sunday's 120-100 victory:
Milwaukee Bucks -5 (-107)
Phoenix Suns +5 (-113)
Over 221 points (-115)
Under 221 points (-105)
Phoenix actually held the 28-25 lead at the end of the first quarter in Game 3, and that seemed to bode well for them, since this was a team that outscored its opponents by 13.5 points per 100 possessions in the second quarter throughout the playoffs and outscored the Bucks 57-39 in the first two games.
But in Game 3 Milwaukee completely owned the second period. They forced five turnovers, grabbed five offensive rebounds, got eleven points from Giannis Antetokounmpo and shot 50% from the field, outscoring the Suns by a 35-17 margin, which gave them a 15-point lead at the half.
Giannis was an absolute beast on the inside, scoring 28 points on 14 field goals in the paint alone. He also made 13 of 17 free throws, and he has adjusted his approach at the line, plus is not dealing with the hostility that comes from a hostile crowd when he's at the charity stripe.
Playing on friendlier ground, the Bucks have more of an opportunity to exploit the things they had been best at among NBA playoff teams before they entered the final round - things like rebounding percentage, second chance points and, of course, defense. They also enjoy that unwritten advantage of getting more whistles in their favor.
After Game 1, coach Mike Budenholzer was "unofficially" complaining (unofficially, because doing it officially gets you fined) about the referees, because he thought Phoenix got a disproportionate number of calls. After Game 3, it was Monty Williams' turn to do all that. Milwaukee, though is the team that has made it a habit of being able to defend people without giving up fouls.
While I'm not sure what Phoenix can do to slow down Giannis in the paint, in any way that would not get their big men into foul trouble, the Bucks can at least take one of the Suns' big guns out of his game. Devin Booker has encountered some uncomfortable moments dealing with the Milwaukee defenders; he was just 3-of-14 from the field in Game 3. In the series, he is 3-for-17 combined when being guarded by Jrue Holiday or Giannis. Booker, in general, has a high Usage figure (28.8%), so if you can get him taking bad shots you can greatly affect the offensive output on the Suns' side.
When making a decision here, you have to consider that Phoenix has been an exceptional road team, winning two-thirds of its games straight-up. But an interesting Milwaukee trend continued on Sunday. The Bucks are now 30-12-1 ATS at home when laying points on the first half line (71.4%). We will follow that, and go BUCKS -2.5 (1H).
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