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The scene for the NBA Finals shifted on Sunday, with Milwaukee playing the role of host in Game 3. To the surprise of few, some players who struggled on the road in the first two games bounced back as the Bucks won by 20. And they were simply following the lead of their superstar, who posted his second straight 40/10 line. Also of note on Sunday was Orlando filling its head coaching vacancy.
Bucks 120, Suns 100: Bucks cut Suns lead in half
While the first two games of the NBA Finals didn't go well for the Milwaukee Bucks, they could find solace in the fact that Game 3 would be at home. And the Eastern Conference Champions got the job done Sunday night, as another Giannis Antetokounmpo masterclass was supplemented by a balanced effort. Antetokounmpo shot 14-of-23 from the field (not one make more than five feet from the basket) and 13-of-17 from the foul line, recording a line of 41 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and one steal with just one turnover. The free throw tally drew some attention after the game, as Antetokounmpo had more attempts than the Suns had as a team (16).
However, that doesn't change the fact that he's had two straight 40/10 games. And the foul line holds the key when it comes to Giannis' fantasy value next season. After three straight seasons ranking in the top-10 in 9-cat, he's been a top-25 player each of the last two seasons. And the struggles at the charity stripe are why. Antetokounmpo's free throw percentages during that three-year stretch: 77.0% (2016-17), 76.0% (2017-18) and 72.9% (2018-19). After shooting 63.4% from the line last season, he made just 66.0% of his attempts in 2020-21. If Giannis can get back into the seventies, he should have no trouble providing top-10 value in 2021-22.
Another reason for the Bucks' success in Game 3 was the improved shooting from both Jrue Holiday (21/5/9/1/1 with five 3-pointers) and Khris Middleton (18/7/6/1 with three 3-pointers). After going a combined 12-of-37 from the field in Game 2, they were 14-of-28 (8-of-17 3-pointers) Sunday night. Similar efforts will be required of both moving forward if Milwaukee is to win the series. Brook Lopez (11/2/0/0/1 with one 3-pointer) and Bobby Portis (11/8/1 with one 3-pointer) also scored in double figures, with the latter playing 18 minutes after getting just five in Game 2. Portis and Pat Connaughton (8/3/4 with two 3-pointers) gave Milwaukee good minutes off the bench, with Lopez's minutes taking a slight hit.
A big issue for Phoenix was the fact that Devin Booker struggled mightily, thanks in large part to Holiday's defense. Shooting 3-of-14 from the field and 3-of-5 from the foul line, Booker finished with ten points, six rebounds, two assists and one 3-pointer in 29 minutes. Each of the Suns' other four starters shot 50% or better from the field. While Holiday is certainly capable of making life difficult for high-scoring guards, no one would be surprised if Booker were to bounce back in a big way Wednesday night.
Deandre Ayton (18/9/0/2) shot 8-of-11 from the field, but a lot of that damage was done early. He landed in early foul trouble, which limited Ayton's influence during a second quarter period in which Milwaukee grabbed control of the game. The Bucks outscored the Suns 23-7 over the final 7:34 of the first half, with Antetokounmpo scoring nine of those points, turning a one-point deficit into a 15-point lead. Phoenix did a good job of establishing Ayton early, but they also need him to stay on the floor and avoid silly fouls. That didn't happen in Game 3.
Chris Paul (19/0/9/1 with one 3-pointer), Jae Crowder (18/6/1/0/1 with six 3-pointers) and Cameron Johnson (14/5/0/0/1 with one 3-pointer) all scored in double figures, with the latter getting the wind knocked out of him during the fourth quarter. The combination of an Antetokounmpo elbow to the ribs and an abdominal cramp sent Johnson to the floor, but after a minute or so on the sideline he was able to return. He should be good to go Wednesday night. Mikal Bridges (4/2/2/0/1) attempted just four shots on the night, while Cameron Payne (7/4/4) shot 3-of-10 from the field.
Also worth noting was Frank Kaminsky returning to the rotation, as Dario Saric suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Game 2. Kaminksy played 14 minutes, shooting 3-of-5 from the field and finishing wit six points, four rebounds and two assists. That isn't enough to rely on him as a DFS roster filler, but Kaminsky did a solid job with the minutes that he was given. Torrey Craig (right knee) played 15 minutes, accounting for two points and one assist.
Magic hire Mavs assistant Mosley as head coach
There's one less head coaching vacancy in the NBA, as Orlando officially hired Dallas assistant Jamahl Mosley on Sunday. Mosley has been an assistant in the NBA for 14 years, with this being his first shot at running his own team on a full-time basis. Mosley has long been praised for his work with regard to player development, which is why this move by the Magic makes sense.
Orlando has a young roster and, unless a trade is made, they'll be adding two more lottery picks to the mix. The rebuild will require some patience, especially when considering the fact that Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz will both be coming off of season-ending knee injuries when next season begins. Also a part of that young core are Cole Anthony, Chuma Okeke, Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr. and RJ Hampton, with Carter being the most experienced of that quintet.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, another candidate for the Magic job was Denver assistant Wes Unseld Jr. While he wasn't the choice in Orlando, Unseld remains in the running for the Wizards head coaching job.