You can’t win a game in one quarter, but you can certainly lose a game in one quarter and that was the case tonight for the Milwaukee Bucks in a 118-105 loss to the Phoenix Suns in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Depending how you want to look at it, Phoenix’s third quarter or Milwaukee’s terrible third quarter, was too much to overcome for the Bucks tonight.
Devin Booker and Chris Paul combined for 59 points and the Suns role players played better than the Bucks role players.
The one bright side is that Giannis Antetokounmpo looked better than I imagined he would.
The biggest job between now and Game 2?
Getting Giannis as fresh as possible. I know we always say on repeat to never doubt him, but I’m amazed he was able to play with this aggression and physicality. The confidence to attack and plant that leg was amazing.
Jrue Holiday was painful to watch tonight. He HAS to be better if the Bucks have any realistic chance of winning this series.
Holiday has struggled from 3-point range all postseason, but refusing to take a wide open look is not the answer. Instead, in the third quarter he dribbles into traffic and turns it over for an easy bucket on the other end.
Getting Jrue going early seems to be the recipe for success. We haven’t seen Jrue be able to pull out of a slow start. You can still trust him for a bucket down the stretch, but in terms of pulling himself out of a slump to salvage his night, not so much.
Khris Middleton finished with 29 points on 12-of-26 from the field. But this is why I always say stats, much like scores, can be very misleading. Middleton had a good offensive stretch at the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth, but aside from that stretch, he was as painful to watch as Holiday was. Oh and Middleton had two key turnovers and a terrible forced shot in the fourth when Bucks were trying to make a run at it.
When you are trying to come back in a game, you just have to take care of the ball and take care of your shot selection. That Middleton forced three-pointer and a Bryn Forbes one legged mid-range baseline fadeaway early in the shot clock are two poor shots that come to mind off the top of my head. You have to play smarter.
I don’t have the final tally, but the Bucks missed 8 shots at the rim in the first half. Obviously the final number will be in double-digits. Those are shots you need to make.
I will say that it is unfortunate that Devin Booker has a better whistle than the two-time MVP. The refs weren’t the reason the Bucks lost the game tonight, but they were bad. At one point the Suns attempted 21 free throws to six free throw attempts for the Bucks. Of course the refs called some fouls when the game was decided to narrow the margin.
The Bucks play so stupid. I still love them though.
A little side note, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar posted his support for the Bucks earlier in the day:
Game 2 in the series will be on Thursday, July 8. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:00 PM (Central Time) and will be nationally televised on ABC.