The Phoenix Suns are two wins away from their first championship in franchise history after beating the Milwaukee Bucks 118-108 in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night. Here are our main takeaways from the game:
Mikal Bridges goes off for 27, giving Suns even more firepower
Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton were already providing enough fantastic play for the Phoenix Suns. So when they’re getting 27-point efforts from other players? That makes them pretty unstoppable.
Villanova product Mikal Bridges scored 27 points — 8-of-15 from the field, 8-of-8 at the line — in addition to the typical quality production from Paul (23 points, 8 assists), Booker (31 points, 6 assists), and Ayton (10 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks).
Mikal Bridges playoff career night.
8-8 FT pic.twitter.com/VyEVxXZOxY
— StatMuse (@statmuse) July 9, 2021
Bridges’ efforts at the free-throw line summarizes the Suns’ excellence in that department. Phoenix went 12-of-14 at the line in Game 2, continuing their historically special success from the charity stripe. They also shot 48.9% from the field and 50% on threes (20-of-40).
Giannis dominates, but it’s still not enough
Maybe the scariest thing for the Bucks is that Giannis Antetokounmpo — who entered this series as a massive question mark after suffering a left knee hyperextension — is putting up huge numbers, and it’s still not mattering.
After a 20-point, 17-rebound performance in Game 1, Giannis took things to another level offensively with 42 points — on 15-of-22 shooting from the field — to go with a team-high 12 rebounds in Game 2.
But it can’t just be Giannis. The Bucks need big games from other players like they saw from Khris Middleton against the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals; Middleton scored only 11 points — 5-of-16 from the field — in Game 2, and only three non-Giannis Bucks players were in double figures scoring (Jrue Holiday topped out that group with 17 points).
Giannis is now averaging 31-14.5-4 on 63.6% shooting through two Finals games, and his team is +4 in his 75 minutes and -27 in the 21 minutes he's sat, and his knee folded the wrong way nine days ago
— Dan Devine (@YourManDevine) July 9, 2021
The issue is that’s the same old story with the Bucks. It’s always a lot of Giannis, but you don’t know where the rest of the production is going to come from on a given night. And frequently, that production is nowhere to be found.
Can the Bucks overcome this 2-0 deficit?
Sure, but it will be a hell of a challenge. FiveThirtyEight gives the Bucks a 12% chance to win this series, and that sounds about right.
It surely requires the Bucks to win the next two games of the series in Milwaukee. And even still, the Suns have to just win two more games, with two games still remaining in Phoenix if the series were to go seven games.
Right now, the Suns appear to have too much firepower for the Bucks, and especially when it comes to beating Phoenix four times in five (again, if necessary) games. The Suns have three consistent sources of production in Paul, Booker, and Ayton, with players like Bridges, Jae Crowder, and Cam Payne stepping up on occasion. If the Bucks are to even make this a six-game series, it will mean getting much bigger contributions from Middleton and company- and that may still not be enough.
The Bucks will look to get back in the series in Game 3, which is Saturday night at Fiserv Forum.