Only four teams in NBA history rallied from down 2-0 to win the championship, and the Milwaukee Bucks hope they can become the fifth team to overcome a slow start to win a title. The Phoenix Suns took a 2-0 series lead in the NBA Finals winning both of their home games, but they hit the road to play Game 3 against the Bucks in front of a home crowd at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.
The Bucks desperately seek to avoid a dreadful 3-0 hole, while the Suns do not want to ease up in their pursuit of an NBA championship.
|GAME 3: Phoenix Suns (2-0) vs Milwaukee Bucks (0-2)|
- Tip-off: 5:10pm PT
- Location: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
- Point Spread: MIL -4
- Total: 222 o/u
- Money Line: PHX +145 / MIL -175
Torrey Craig injured his knee in Game 2, but the Suns reserve forward is listed as day-to-day. Craig had replaced Dario Saric in the rotation after Saric blew out his ACL in Game 1. That means Frank Kaminsky aka Frank the Tank will get more playing time off the bench.
The Suns are -500 odds to win the NBA championship, according to an update by the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. The Bucks are +375 underdogs to win the title.
Suns: 2 More Wins from Glory
The Suns jumped out to a two-game lead in the NBA Finals, but they’d hate to squander all that hard work by letting the Bucks back into the series with a lackadaisical effort in Game 3.
Chris Paul, the betting favorite to win NBA Finals MVP, leads the unselfish Suns and their well-balanced attack. All of their starters have the ability to score at any given time, whereas the Bucks have obvious weaknesses on their squad. Mikal Bridges, the fourth or fifth option on the floor, scored 27 points in Game 2 because the Bucks were trying to slow down Paul and Devin Booker and allowed Bridges to find open spots on the perimeter.
“We got shooters,” explained Paul. “Like, real shooters. And I say this all the time, it’s nice when you kick it out to a guy and you expect him to make it. Like, I get mad at some of these guys when they miss it. They miss it and I’m like, come on, man, you don’t miss that in practice.”
“The ability to knock that shot down and have multiple guys who can do it certainly helps your team,” said Suns head coach Monty Williams.
Gene Hackman’s character from Hoosiers, coach Norman Dale, would’ve been ecstatic about how the Suns passed the rock and moved the ball around the perimeter ten times before finding a player for a layup.
Bucks: Live and Die by 3, But Mostly Dying
If the Bucks want to compete against the Suns in Game 3, they’ll have to win a shootout against a team that’s averaging nearly 110 ppg. That means someone aside from Greek Freak (28.1 ppg, 11.0 rebound) or Khris Middleton (24.3 ppg, 8.1 rebounds) needs to post a huge game and the rest of the team needs to knock down their 3-pointers.
On defense, the Bucks opted for a smaller lineup to combat the Suns heavy diet of pick-and-rolls, but then they got killed in the rebounding department.
“There was one possession where we gave them three open 3-pointers,” said Greek Freak. “Just got to do a better job rebounding the ball. And it’s tough going small and switching up, and then I’ve got to get my butt back and help my team to get the rebounds.”
In Game 2, the Suns shot 40 3-pointers and knocked down 20 of them. The Bucks shot 31 3ointer and hit just nine. In the modern NBA, the team that can hit the most treys and do a better job at defending the 3-point line will be in the best position to win. Right now, the Suns are dominating that battle.
“What they always say… it’s a make-or-miss league,” said Paul.
NBA Finals History: 2-0 Hole
Only four teams in NBA history stormed back from an 2-0 deficit in the NBA Finals to win a championship. The last two times this anomaly occurred, LeBron James was at the helm. LeBron guided the Miami Heat to a sensational comeback in the 2006 NBA Finals with four-straight wins against the Dallas Mavericks.
A decade later in the 2016 NBA Finals, LeBron replicated his comeback magic with the Cleveland Cavs. LeBron and the Cavs were down 2-0 against Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors before winning Game 3 to stop the bleeding. The Warriors actually blew a 3-1 lead and the Cavs won three in a row to finally end Cleveland’s championship drought.
|NBA FINALS DOWN 2-0 TO WIN TITLE|
|1969 Boston Celtics||vs LA Lakers||Win 4-3|
|1977 Portland Trail Blazers||vs Philadelphia 76ers||Win 4-2|
|2006 Miami Heat||vs Dallas Mavericks||Win 4-2|
|2016 Cleveland Cavs||vs Golden State Warriors||Win 4-3|
The Boston Celtics pulled off an insane comeback against the LA Lakers in the 1969 NBA Finals to win the series in seven games after trailing 2-0. That was also the only time a player from the losing team won the NBA Finals MVP. Jerry West was named the outstanding player in the finals, but the Lakers lost the title after blowing a 2-0 lead.
Even though the Portland Trail Blazers fell behind 2-0 against Dr. J and the Philadelphia 76ers in 1977, Bill Walton inspired the team to pull off a sick comeback. Walton and the Blazers won four game in a row en route to the franchise’s only NBA championship.
Check out more coverage of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.