The Bucks knew they needed more than their so-called “Big 3” when they returned home Thursday night, and their top trio did practically all the heavy lifting to get them back in their second-round playoff series against the Nets. be provided.
Leading scorers Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton accounted for nearly 80 percent of the team’s offensive output – and point guard Jew Holiday reached the basket for the go-forward bucket with 11.4 seconds remaining – as the Bucks finished the series 2-1 Drawn inside. 86-83 win in Milwaukee.
“A win is a win, and at the end of the day, we got the win. … We knew it was a very tough game and we needed this game as much as possible,” Antetokounmpo said. “It was a very low score. It was a game of capture by capture, you had to take stops and knock down shots to win the game.
“You enjoy winning a game like this, but we can play better.”
The Bucks unquestionably needed a two-time league MVP to make a more dramatic impact than in Game 2 (18 points), and Antetokounmpo scored 15 of his 33 points in Thursday’s first quarter.
Middleton overcame a two-game offensive swoop in Brooklyn by clinching his star teammate with 15 in the opening period and finishing with 35, which included two free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining.
“It was just a matter of living with it,” Middleton said. “I think we did a great job setting the tone tonight … and defensively we did a good job of making it hard for those guys.”
Antetokounmpo had admitted he needed to be “more aggressive” at home after the Bucks skipped the first two games in Brooklyn, which included a 39-point oblivion by the Nets in Game 2 on Monday.
While Middleton struggled to find his scoring touch in the first two games (30.2 percent), the Greek freak did connect at least 8-for-15 overall in Game 2 from the floor. A team-high 34 points in a 115–107 Milwaukee defeat in the series opener.
“I knew I had to be aggressive and let my instincts take over,” Antetokounmpo said.
The two Milwaukee Stars combined to shoot a combined 12-for-17 for an even split of their team’s first 30 points in Thursday’s first quarter, including three 3-pointers and lane runs on multiple attempts by Middleton. Through included three high-flying dunks. Before coming back to make a close game in the final minutes of the nets by Antetokounmpo.
Bucks coach Mike Buenholzer said, “The first big quarter for us and then things changed, but for us it was just a way to win a game.” “Your character is tested in the playoffs, and now we have to fill our cup back and be ready to do it again.”
Holiday had lost 10 of 13 shots until he found an opening on the right and made a spin move around Bruce Brown with 11.4 seconds left to give the Bucks 84-83.
“I saw me and Brown face to face, I made a move and it was a good one, and I ended up making it,” Holiday said. “That was only one of the one-on-one plays I had all play. … And now that we’re down 2-1, we have to save the home court.”