Suns 118, Bucks 108 (PHX leads 2-0)
What went down
Just like Game 1, the Phoenix Suns just had too much offense in the crucial fourth quarter stretch – when Mike Breen starts speaking in phrases due to the combination of action and tension – for the Milwaukee Bucks to handle in Game 2.
Despite the Suns opening the game on a tear from 3, the Bucks kept the game close thanks to steady defense and quick-hitting transition offense. It wasn't until the Suns unleashed a 7-0 run in the second quarter. Staring at an 11-point deficit at the half, Giannis Antetokounmpo went to work in the third quarter, scoring a finals record 20 points in the quarter alone. The Greek Freak has figured out throughout these playoffs that no matter how much he struggles from the free throw line, the Bucks are still better off with staying aggressive and drawing contact. After all, the Suns can only give up a finite number of fouls before their players get into trouble.
Giannis held the Bucks together for much of the second half. His supporting cast eventually found their rhythm and got Milwaukee to within six, 103- 97, with over four minutes to go in the game. In the most crucial possession of the game, the Bucks forced the Suns into two contested triples, only for Phoenix to get a second offensive rebound and have Chris Paul wide open for a corner 3. The Suns went up by nine and the Bucks couldn’t make another.
That was the story of the game – the Bucks defending at a high level, only for Phoenix to hit a 3-pointer. There was no being resilient to Phoenix going 20-for-40 from deep when the Bucks could only hit nine of their 31 3-point attempts. The Suns again relished their pair of closers' hot shooting. Milwaukee needs to match Paul and Devin Booker's fourth quarter show.
Mikal Bridges had the game of his life in the playoffs, scoring 27 points off uncanny drives to the basket and open outside looks.
But the Suns were bailed out by Devin Booker, who scored nine of his team-high 31 points in the fourth quarter. Booker played the role of extinguisher in the fourth quarter – each of his three triples in the period came when the Bucks were making a run.
So far, the Bucks have tried all of their best perimeter defenders on Booker but the NBA’s flashiest car connoisseur has found a way to keep scoring in this series.
What he said
Deandre Ayton has been breaking out this postseason. He didn’t have as great a statistical impact in Game 2 like he did with his near 20-20 performance in Game 1. Phoenix coach Monty Williams reminded him that he can still have an impact on the game without dominating the stats sheet.
Did you see that?
The game has evolved so much. We’re undoubtedly watching the best version of basketball ever. But, some things have remained equally beautiful like this Phoenix possession to end the half that looks like it could have been lifted from one of Red Auerbach's old tutorial films.
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