The Milwaukee Bucks are on the board.
Courtesy of their 120-100 Game 3 win, the Eastern Conference Champions cut the Finals series deficit to 2-1 in what was the biggest margin of victory in the NBA Finals since Game 4 in 2018.
With all of the game's 10 lead changes and five ties coming in the first half, Milwaukee pulled away in the second half courtesy of a 19-0 run in the second half.
Five Bucks scored in double figures led by Giannis Antetokounmpo's monster all-round statline of 41 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. For the Suns, Chris Paul was top scorer but could never spark a run or a Suns comeback.
While the Greek Freak stole the show, multiple players played key roles in this Bucks win. That said, here's a look at the player ratings from Game 3:
Giannis Antetokounmpo - 9.5
The only Bucks player through the first three games of the NBA Finals to have a positive plus-minus each game. That, by itself, doesn't necessarily define his impact but add to this averages - 34.3 points, 14.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists - and it's a completely different story.
Individually, the Greek Freak has been the best player in this series.
In Game 3, Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded 41 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists in Milwaukee's win.- CBS Sports (@CBSSports) July 12, 2021
Since the NBA merger, only three players have equaled or surpassed those totals in a Finals game:
- Magic Johnson
- LeBron James
- Kevin Durant
Legendary performance. pic.twitter.com/VP3SDrFX96
Not to mention his shooting efficiencies - 62.5 percent from the field and nearly 66.0 percent from the free-throw line on an average of 15.67 attempts.
MORE: Putting Giannis' Game 3 into historical context
That's not all. These numbers are coming off just a week's recovery from a left knee hyperextension in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals
Bobby Portis - 8.5
Everybody knew Bobby Portis was the leader of the Bucks' bench mob and the spark off the second unit. In the first two games in Phoenix, he was picked apart as part of the Suns' attack on the Bucks' pick-and-roll defence.
Game 3 in Milwaukee was a completely different story.
Bobby Portis was +19 in 18 minutes on the floor tonight pic.twitter.com/DAFSpb1f3D- Basketball Reference (@bball_ref) July 12, 2021
In the first two games combined, Portis had seven points and five rebounds on 3-of-7 shooting from the field. However, in Game 3, he finished with 11 points and eight rebounds in just 18 minutes of action.
His +19 was the third-best on the Bucks, only trailing Jrue Holiday's +22 and Antetokounmpo's +21. His 8.5 rating doesn't make him the second-best player from the game but is a clear indication of his huge impact in the limited minutes off the bench.
Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday - 8
One of the biggest storylines after the games in Phoenix was the need for strong bounce-back games from the Bucks' starting backcourt duo of Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday.
While they didn't steal the headlines or the eyeballs while looking at the stat sheet but they did enough efficiently to play a good supporting role to Antetokounmpo's big game.
🔥 @Jrue_Holiday11 (21 PTS, 9 AST) and @Khris22m (18 PTS, 7 REB, 6 AST) help lead the @Bucks to victory in Game 3! #NBAFinals #ThatsGame- NBA (@NBA) July 12, 2021
Game 4: Wednesday, 9pm/et, ABC pic.twitter.com/U21VrpePY7
The duo of Holiday and Middleton combined for 39 points and 15 assists on 14-of-28 shooting from the field and 8-of-17 from long distance, a huge difference from their combined 28 points on 12-of-37 shooting from the field in Game 2.
Despite not being flashy, both players came up big in key moments of the game.
Middleton scored 15 (5-10 FGs; 2-3 3Ps) of his points tally in the first half. In the third quarter, when the Suns brought the deficit down as few as four and were threatening to make a comeback, Holiday (12) scored or assisted on 15 of the team's final 27 points of the period, which included a 16-0 run.
16-0 MILWAUKEE BUCKS RUN!! pic.twitter.com/7xbuhFeWlY- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) July 12, 2021
Cameron Johnson - 8
Similar to Portis, Cameron Johnson is the Suns' spark off the bench but just more consistent. In his limited minutes, all through these playoffs, he contributes across the board and makes a positive impact.
In Game 3, despite the loss, his thunderous dunk was the highlight of the game.
💥🎥 PHANTOM. CAM. 🎥💥- NBA (@NBA) July 12, 2021
Cam Johnson's rim-ratting slam from Game 3 of the #NBAFinals, from multiple angles via our slo-mo #PhantomCam. #ThatsGame pic.twitter.com/peDGlBcFeZ
In just 10 minutes of play, he finished with 14 points - 10 of which came in the third quarter prior to the Bucks' 16-0 run when the Suns were looking competitive and make a comeback.
Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton - 7.5
In a vacuum, the duo of Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton didn't have bad games. CP3 finished with team-high tallies of 19 points and nine assists while Ayton recorded 18 points and nine rebounds on 8-of-11 shooting from the field.
Chris Paul's handles are unreal 🧊#NBAFinals on ABC pic.twitter.com/D3acP8XDRV- NBA (@NBA) July 12, 2021
However, in comparison to the high standards they set for themselves after Game 1, this falls short because they couldn't spark a run or respond to the Bucks' game-changing plays whether it's their 30-9 run to cap-off the first half or the 16-0 run to end the third quarter.
MORE: Game 3 shows Ayton's importance for Suns
In Ayton's case, it was all foul trouble. After playing 19 minutes in the first half, he only played five in the second. On the other hand, Paul was responsible for four of the Bucks' 14 turnovers and his plus-minus of -13 was the second-worst on the team.
Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges - 6.5
Game 3 was a forgettable one for the duo of Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges.
MORE: Booker unfazed by rough Game 3
For the shooting guard, it was just one of those off-games as he only finished with 10 points in 29 minutes on 3-of-14 shooting from the field including 1-of-7 from long range. Despite the Bucks' late run in the third, most of the Suns' players played minutes early in the fourth.
However, for Booker, the night ended early as he didn't check back into the game after the 48-second mark of the third quarter. His plus-minus of -13 was the second-worst in the game.
In the case of Bridges, it was a big fall from the highs of Game 2. After scoring a playoff career-high 27 a couple of days earlier, the Suns' wing only finished with four points for the game while committing four of the team's 14 turnovers.
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