Thursday night, The Phoenix Suns took a commanding 2-0 series lead after beating the Milwaukee Bucks 118-108 in game 2 of the NBA Finals.
A 2-0 series lead is great to have, but four wins secure the Larry O’Brien trophy. There’s plenty of basketball left to play, and until someone steals a game from a home team, the series is wide open.
Foul Shot Disparity
The Suns dominated game 2 like they dominated game 1.
Despite ending up on the wrong end of the foul shot disparity, an injury to Torrey Craig, and a career-high scoring game from an opposing two-time MVP, the suns found a way to keep rolling.
In game 1, the Suns attempted 10 more free throws than the Bucks. Game 2 ended with the Suns attempting nine fewer free throws than Milwaukee.
After game 1, the free throw disparity was a highlight for the media and fans to discredit much of what the Suns did well.
So in game 2, the free throw disparity shows us that making your free throws at a high percentage takes precedent over simply getting to the line.
The Bucks made 15-of-23 from the foul line and have made 61.5 percent of their free throw attempts through the first two games.
On the flip side, the Suns shot 12-of-14 and are making a blistering 92.5 percent of their free throws in the series.
Booker and Crowder Find Their Stroke
Devin Booker and Jae Crowder found their shooting stroke from deep after a rough night beyond the arc in game 1.
Booker had 31 points, five rebounds, and six assists in game 2. He shot 12-of-25 from the field and 7-of-12 from three. Most impressively, Booker did not attempt a foul shot the entire game.
Crowder finished the game with 11 points and 10 rebounds. He shot 4-of-8 from the field and 3-of-5 from the three-point line.
As mentioned in the District of Buckets game 1 preview, Booker and Crowder need to be in a rhythm as the series changes to Milwaukee.
Monty Williams’ Brilliance
Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams proves every night why he’s a coach of the year caliber basketball mind. Game 2 was just another day at the office.
Early in the first quarter, the Bucks’ aggressive attacking put them in a position to take control of the game. Coach Williams counteracted the Bucks’ paint attacking by running a few minutes of a 2-3 zone.
Running a zone in today’s NBA is a risky tactic due to the high level of outside shooting most teams possess.
However, a zone requires a different thought process to attack.
Changing the way an opponent attacks the basket can slow runs and give your team time to adjust. By the time you switch back to man-to-man, there’s a chance you disrupt the momentum of the other team.
The Bucks ended the first quarter up three points. In the 2nd half, the Bucks outscored the Suns by one point.
The game was decided in the second quarter when the Suns switched the momentum of the contest after exiting the zone. Phoenix outscored Milwaukee 30-16 in the 2nd quarter and never looked back.
Through two games, Williams is coaching circles around Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer. If coach Bud can’t match the coaching adjustments of the Suns, Milwaukee has a steep mountain to climb.
Holiday & Middleton Struggle
The offensive inconsistency of the Milwaukee supporting cast continued in game 2.
Jrue Holiday was more aggressive, but his shooting struggles continued as he went 7-of-21 from the field en route to 17 points, five rebounds, and seven assists.
Holiday’s defense traveled to Phoenix, but his shot did not.
Hopefully, his shot will find itself as the series turns to Milwaukee, but he has to show the basketball world these two games were just a fluke.
Khris Middleton also struggled as he scored 11 points on 16 shots.
There isn’t much to say about the supporting cast because they’re getting great opportunities to score.
The ball has to fall in the bucket.
Giannis is a Constant
If there’s one thing the Bucks can be happy about going into game 3, it’s that Phoenix has no answer for Giannis.
Antetokounmpo had a historic finals performance. He set a playoff career-high 42 points, and his 20 points in the third quarter are the most in a Finals game since Michael Jordan scored 22 points in 1993.
Game 3 Predictions
I’m predicting the Bucks defend home court in game 3.
From an eye-test standpoint, they’re moving well on defense and playing aggressively on offense.
I expect that Holiday and Middleton will have great games. I’m betting on their progression to the shooting averages we are accustomed to seeing from them.
If the Bucks outside of Antetokounmpo show up, game 3 will be a tough contest for Phoenix.
Don’t forget: In the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, the Bucks went down 0-2 against the Harden-less Brooklyn Nets after losing 86-125. They ended up coming back and winning that series.
The talent is there to compete with this great Suns team. It is all about execution now.
NBA Finals Game 3: Sunday, July 11th 8:00 p.m EST.
District of Buckets Socials:
@BucketsDistrict on Twitter
@districtofbuckets on Instagram