MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (Diya TV) — After losing the first two games of the Finals to the Phoenix Suns, the Milwaukee Bucks bounced back at home with stellar offense and stifling defense. They flipped the script, pulling away in the second quarter like the Suns did in Games 1 and 2. A 30-9 run by Milwaukee capped off that quarter, which was too much for Phoenix to overcome. The Bucks cruised to their first win in the series and annihilated any speculation of a Suns sweep.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks’ star forward, propelled his team to this victory. With his 41 points and 13 rebounds, he became the second player to have 2 back-to-back 40+ point, 10+ rebound nights in the Finals — joining an elite club consisting of Shaquille O’Neal and him. He also hit 13 out of his 17 free throws, his highest percentage this series. Milwaukee’s coach, Mike Budenholzer, praised Giannis, remarking, “He made some great reads, found guys, played against the zone. He just did a little bit of everything. Offensive boards, putbacks. We need a lot from him and that’s what he does.”
Notably, Jrue Holiday came in big for the Bucks when needed. In the third quarter, he drained 4 3-pointers, contributing much-needed points and widening the lead. His 21 total points and 9 assists made him pivotal to the Bucks’ passing game and offense, as did his plus/minus of 22. Giannis had high praise for Jrue, commenting, “He’s a great player. We need him to keep playing like this. We trust him. He’s our leader.” This teamwork and exceptional game gave the Bucks the boost needed to beat the Suns.
On the flip side, the Suns departed from their outstanding game, instead playing abysmally during their first road game of the Finals. Devin Booker, a rising star who many considered in contention for Finals MVP, scored a mere 10 points. When asked about his performance, Booker commented, “….there’s nights like that. The most important part to me is winning the game and we didn’t do that, so I’m more frustrated about that. But we have a few days off here. We’re going to get back right and going to go over film and be ready Wednesday.”
In fact, no one on Phoenix scored more than 20 points, their highest scorer being Chris Paul with 19 points. Mikal Bridges, who looked promising in Game 2 with his marvelous 27 points, scored 4 this game. Moreover, he had 4 turnovers, making his points-to-turnovers ratio 1. Interestingly, DeAndre Ayton scored an enormous 16 points in the first half. However, the Suns were plagued with foul trouble (both him and Cameron Johnson had 5 fouls), and he had to sit out much of the second half. Chris Paul remarked about Ayton, “He’s a big part of our team, especially he’s the anchor of our defense….So, yeah, we got to protect him better and make sure that we’re showing that wall.”
Positively, Jae Crowder was a bright spot on the Suns’ side, shooting an 85.7% field goal percentage. What’s more remarkable is that his only shots were 3-pointers, so his field goal percentage was also his 3-point shooting percentage. His 6 3-pointers helped the Suns avoid crushing defeat and stay in the game at times.
Factors to Consider & Looking Ahead
There’s no doubt about it, a drastic change occurred from Game 2 to Game 3. Middleton discussed the Bucks’ defense as the X-factor, stating, “It started with our defense. We were able to get stops. That allowed us to get on the break play a lot faster and a lot freer and a lot of it was Jrue and Giannis.’ The Suns evidently felt the effects of the Bucks’ stifling defense, allowing the Bucks to take the win.
Throughout this series, the second and third quarter have been especially crucial. Phoenix pulled away in both Games 1 and 2, while Milwaukee did in Game 3. These defining quarters have dictated the winners of both games, so there’s going to be an emphasis on stopping the other team’s rhythm. One must also take into consideration home-court advantage. In these playoffs, the Bucks are 8-1 at home but 5-6 on the road. This comfort the Bucks have on their home court may be a decisive factor in Game 4 and a possible Game 6.
Overall, the Bucks’ performance tonight acted as a reminder that they’ve overcome a 0-2 deficit before, and they have the firepower to do it again. They will look to continue their momentum into Game 4, tying up the series before heading to Phoenix. The Suns, on the other hand, will look to beat the Bucks in Milwaukee and bring a 3-1 lead back home, where they’ll need only 1 victory to be crowned NBA champions. Game 4 will be on Wednesday at 6 PT/9 ET!
India Rising puts forth valiant effort in loss to Boeheim’s Army in TBT
SYRACUSE (Diya TV) — With The Basketball Tournament commencing, most eyes have been set on Boeheim’s Army and their path to repeating as champions. However, their first match provided an opponent true to its name: India Rising.
While one may look at the 90-62 score and disregard the India Rising squad, when watching the game, the team did truly give Boeheim’s Army a run for their money in the first half. Facing a team full of guys who played under one of the greatest basketball coaches ever, Jim Boeheim, India Rising jumped out to an early 5-0 lead and was able to keep pace with Boeheim’s Army for a substantial amount of time. Most people may have written them off early but they kept fighting. They had a clear cut goal to bring attention to basketball players of Indian descent by pulling off a cinderella win and carve a path for themselves. It is clear that they put in their full effort to try and realize those goals.
In the second half, Boeheim’s army was able to pull away but India Rising had made their message clear: Indian ballers should not be overlooked. The box score does not paint the real picture of how much heart, determination, and grit India Rising displayed to get more recognition. General manager Gautam Kapur and head coach Ajay Sharma have done an excellent job overseeing the initiative and giving the best Indian hoopers a chance to shine on a big stage.
In a 64 team tournament, India Rising stood out and gave a near-professional squad a tough time. For what this team set out to achieve, no heads should be hung low. India Rising should be getting the recognition they so rightfully deserve.
Warriors win Game 5 at home, now just one game away from the title
SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) —The Golden State Warriors are just one win away from their fourth title in eight years. The Dubs returned home and overpowered the Boston Celtics 104-94 to take a 3-2 series lead, even though Stephen Curry only scored 16. Infact, Curry did not make a single three, a first in the last 3.5 years. Andrew Wiggins on the other hand matched Tatum while scoring a team-high 26 points and added 13 rebounds, including the dagger dunk to finish off Boston.
Draymond Green saw glimpses of a turnaround game as he was very close to a triple double before fouling out for the 3rd time in this series. Klay Thompson made a great contribution on the offensive end with 21 points, on the third anniversary of his horrific injury in the finals against the Cavaliers in 2019 . The Warriors trio of Curry, Thompson and Green were able to cement themselves even further with their 20th Finals win together, the most of any trio over the past 30 years.
The Celtics saw franchise star Jayson Tatum have a better game scoring wise than the last game with a team-high 27 points. But while Tatum showed up for game 5, Jaylen Brown did not. When both of those players are on at the same time, the Celtics can light it up. However, there has been inconsistency from both throughout the Finals. The C’s will need both guys to be on for them to fend off the Dubs and force a Game 7.
The Warriors can close out the series and add a 7th ring to their collection with a win on Thursday in the hostile environment of TD Garden. A collective team effort would do the trick as in Game 4, Curry shouldered the load while the rest of his supporting cast did the same for him. The Celtics will look to put forth their best effort of the season in a final effort to keep their season alive. It could very well come down to if both Tatum and Brown can prove they can be a dynamic duo on the biggest stage.
Warriors seal Game 4 victory with an epic Steph Curry performance, tie series 2-2
BOSTON (Diya TV) — The Warriors, seal Game 4 victory with a vintage Stephen Curry performance, evened up the NBA Finals in an absolute thriller, winning 107-97.
The start of the game saw both teams match each other pound for pound with Boston ultimately taking the first quarter by a single point. There were notions before the game about Curry having a foot sprain, but he quickly laid those doubts to rest. He began to heat up in the first quarter (and talked some trash along the way). Conversely, Draymond Green continued his finals performance with more fouls than points. Robert Williams III showed off his skills as a rim protector on defense, which was a missing piece for the Celtics up until the point of Williams’ return. In the first half, Curry and Jayson Tatum battled against each other in classic star matchup fashion with Curry scoring 19 and Tatum going for 16. Tatum was money from beyond the arc (made 3 out of his 4 three-point attempts), just like he’s been all Finals as he’s been shooting 48% on 3’s.
The officiating in the first half was questionable, especially in the second quarter when Payton Pritchard clearly traveled and yet a foul was called instead. This set off Warriors HC Steve Kerr and his temper led to him getting a technical foul. For a non-call to be that egregious and then to double down by giving Kerr the technical foul is asinine and something that certainly sparked controversy. Attention was also brought to the Celtics free throw attempts versus the Warriors (15 and 5 respectively) even with both teams attacking the basket often. Despite this disparity, the Warriors were able to keep it within 5 at the end of the half.
More Curry magic continued in the second half with him carrying the team on his back, in essence. 43 points highlight the stat line but when watching the game, it was clear as day that he was really the only dependable source of scoring throughout the ballgame for the Dubs. With 7 threes made tonight, we saw the greatest shooter in league history go to work and will his team to victory. In the biggest stage of basketball, Curry made his mark once again.
The Celtics now face a daunting Game 5 heading to San Francisco. Winning both games on their home court would have all but sealed a championship for them. But now, the door has not only creaked, but swung wide open. The #1 defense in the NBA will gameplan to try and find answers for Curry. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will be facing a challenging environment in Chase Center, but one they are familiar with.
Meanwhile, the Warriors will look to capitalize off the momentum and adrenaline this win has given them. Off the heels of a classic performance, Curry will try to carry on his titanium-strong Finals MVP case. Draymond Green, coming back to friendly faces in San Francisco, will try to turn around an awful stretch. This series is shaping up to be a dramatic one with both teams trading blows. Game 5 should deliver more popcorn-worthy entertainment, especially if Stephen Curry is involved.
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