No one has ever come back from 3-0. Against that great statistic, one of the most unequivocal ever, the Bucks fought in Milwaukee. They could not miss the opportunity to add the first victory of the series after two clearly lost games (especially the second), in the face of such a talented squad that they have survived the loss of James Harden with unusual ease. The guard, reconverted this year to base, was once again low and has no return date, so the Nets had to survive without him one more day, something they did not achieve this time. The Buks’ urgency to achieve victory caused a resounding start, but the game ended in a heart attack ending Thanks to Khirs Middleton, a cool uncle in the shadow of Giannis with a clutch time capacity that the Greek lacks, due to basketball ability.
The Bucks started with a 30-9 run, a suffocating defense that they did not give up throughout the game and good decisions in attack. They closed the first quarter with just two more points from the Nets, who scored 5 of 25 on shooting from the field in the opening 12 minutes., including a very poor 1 of 9 on triples. For their part, the locals were flying: 15 points and 7 rebounds from Giannis, with identical statistics from a Middleton that gave a real display from middle distance. A period in which Mike Budenholzer did not change anything about the base (Tucker is still the starter), but he did about the players, that came out with a special glow in their eyes, the one that only appears on big playoff nights.
Of course, they sweated to win the game; the initial set was answered by another also powerful one, but this time for Steve Nash’s (15-31). From there, the trend was of equality and a lot of defense, with only 92 points combined, a very poor figure. And with five minutes to go, the result reflected a short 76-76. From there, Middleton’s basket to which Durant responded. Then two more for Middleton and another answer from Durant. And with 80 equals, a trippy from the Nets forward, who monopolized the final minutes and caused his team to dream of what seemed impossible at the start of the game: victory.
Middleton, for a change, remembered distances, and Jrue Holiday gave the Bucks an advantage with an incredible penetration, before the failure of the Nets and, of course, two free throws by Middleton, who made it 86-83 that would be final. Durant found that magic was not inexhaustible when he missed a final triple that was close to forcing the extension. And the Bucks saved a life when they seemed to be dead and get into a series that, yes, they must tie almost out of obligation in a fourth game before their audience. That, a 3-1 that is not a 3-0 but looks bad for anyone, especially if we look at the talent of some Nets that, without Harden and even losing, seem to have everything under control.
The hero Middleton
The one who saves a life and a part of the project, aside from a Mike Budenholzer who has a foot and a half outside the franchise if Giannis stops coming to his rescue and the Bucks are eliminated in the semifinals, is Antetokounmpo himself. The Greek added 33 points and 14 rebounds, but also 5 losses and a poor 1 of 8 in triples, with floating defenses that are almost insulting. In the last quarter he did not rest, but he stayed at 2 of 7 in field goals and gave prominence to a Middleton who was the true hero: 35 + 15 in almost 44 minutes, a more common figure in the playoffs than in the regular season . At the end of the day, in the final phase nobody is there for jokes, even less with the possibility of a 3-0 that is practically a sentence. In the rest, a lot of defense but little thing (68 of the 86 points were from the dynamic duo), with special mention for Brook Lopez, the backboard protector: only 3 points, but 11 rebounds and 6 blocks.
On the Nets, a little bit of everything and a lot of Kevin Durant. The star went to 30 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists (4 losses) and 4 steals. He went, like the rest of his team, into an infinite loop in the first room which he later resolved, especially with the 11 goals scored in the last one and that comeback attempt It seemed such when he put his team up three with just 1:23 to go. Kyrie Irving was not as fine as other days (22 + 5, but only 1 assist), and neither was Blake Griffin and company. And the team waits for Harden as he tries to pull off a half-elimination win in Milwaukee. The Bucks, one win away from the tie. The Nets without a very great need but with the intention that the series does not last longer than desirable. And Giannis, with a life. That, for him and his team, is the most important thing.