Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA Playoffs

Giannis gets his groove back as Bucks cruise past Celtics in Game 3

Giannis Antetokounmpo had his best game of the series, finally finishing in the paint and camping out at the free throw line, as the Bucks took Game 3 from the Celtics.

The Bucks seem to have regained some of their identity and mojo after that discouraging Game 1 loss to the Celtics. Game 3, the first in the series on Boston’s home floor, was back-and-forth until the Bucks finally separated themselves with a 40-point third quarter. Khris Middleton woke up and hit some 3s and then George Hill took over, putting up 11 points.

Boston’s offense sputtered in the fourth quarter and Giannis Antetokounmpo kept scoring to keep the Celtics at arm’s length. In the end, the Bucks had another blistering shooting game, regained homecourt advantage and saw Giannis play his best game of the series. Not bad.

Takeaways

The solution for Giannis was just getting to the free throw line. Boston’s defense did a number on Giannis in Game 1, putting Al Horford on him for the majority of possessions and packing the paint to keep him away from the rim. In Game 2, he kept attacking and got himself to the line in lieu of dunking all over Horford and company. Game 3, the same formula worked for him. Giannis finished with 32 points on just 8-of-13 from the field, all in the paint, because he was able to get himself to the line. He attempted 22 free throws, bringing him to 48 for the series. His scoring in the middle has also opened space at the 3-point line and the Bucks have hit 33-of-86 over the last two games. They’ve gotten their step by step, but this is the Bucks that dominated the regular season — Giannis controlling the paint and everyone else from bombing away.

Boston’s offense was all over the place. On one hand, the Celtics hit 16-of-40 3-pointers, 30-of-32 from the free throw line, and got solid offensive games from Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris. On the other hand, Tatum was 0-of-5 on 3s, Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving combined to go 10-of-30 from the field and Boston had 17 turnovers to their 24 assists. In the past two games, Boston has been able to get some elements of their offense to work seamlessly, while others are grinding gears and spitting out smoke.

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Milwaukee’s bench came up big. The second unit has been hit-or-miss for the Bucks in this series but George Hill and Pat Connaughton were enormous in Game 3. They combined for 35 points on 14-of-23 from the field and 6-of-12 on 3-pointers. Hill was aggressive attacking off the dribble and filling some of the space Eric Bledsoe couldn’t fill in this game. Connaughton hit big outside shots in the first half, to keep the game close. Milwaukee had a 26-point edge on bench points, the difference in the game and then some.

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