Nets vs Bucks Nets vs Bucks Heroic effort from Khris Middleton in Game 3 helps
Nets vs. Bucks Game 3: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Steve Nash … Thu, 10 Jun 2021 17:00:00 -0700-Middleton finished with 35 points, 15 rebounds and made some huge shots down the stretch.
MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo is the Milwaukee Bucks' best player, but when they really need a bucket they give the ball to Khris Middleton. That was evident in Game 1 against the Miami Heat when Middleton hit a last-second game-winner, and it was evident again on Thursday night in Game 3 versus the Brooklyn Nets, as Middleton came up huge down the stretch to save the Bucks' season.
Middleton's 35 points and 15 rebounds were both game-highs and helped Bucks escape with an 86-83 victory in one of the ugliest playoff games in a long time. The crucial win cut the series deficit to 2-1, and the Bucks will now have a chance to tie things up on Sunday in Game 4.
“He made a couple big ones,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Both teams were fighting for every bucket they could get, so Khris was able to put us in a spot where we had a chance to win, and then Jrue with a big basket late. So a couple good plays by both of those guys.”
After a brilliant start, in which Middleton and Giannis each scored 15 points in the first quarter to get the Bucks out to a 30-11 lead, the game turned into a grind. At one point in the fourth quarter, it got so bad that no one scored for over three minutes, and the normal anxiety that hovers in the arena during a big playoff game was ratcheting up with every miss.
With less than three minutes to play, the game was tied 76-76, and it felt perfectly set up for a devastating Kevin Durant run to ruin the Bucks' night. That surge did come, only it wasn't quite good enough because Middleton was every bit his equal.
First, a pull-up jumper over Bruce Brown off the pick-and-roll with Giannis to put the Bucks up 78-76. This wasn't the most important basket of the game, but it was right up there considering the Bucks hadn't scored in four minutes and 22 seconds.
Next, after Durant had tied it with a bucket of his own, Middleton hit another pull-up jumper over Brown to give the Bucks an 80-78 advantage.
Then, once Durant had ripped off a 5-0 burst to put the Nets in front 83-80 with less than 90 seconds to play, Middleton delivered again. Shedding Joe Harris with a quick rip through, Middleton shuffled all the way to the rim for a layup that was goaltended and cut the deficit to 83-82.
“For the most part it was shots that I got in Games 1 and 2 in Brooklyn,” Middleton said. It was just a matter of staying with it, taking some of the same shots and having the confidence to knock them down.”
Later, after Jrue Holiday had put the Bucks in front, and they were clinging to a one-point lead, Middleton stepped to the line for two massive free throws. Perhaps it's easy to say now, well after the fact, but there was really never any doubt — not from him, not from anyone in the building — that they were going in. And they did, to put the Bucks up by three.
All told, Middleton scored eight of the Bucks' last 10 points over the final two minutes and forty seconds of the fourth quarter. But maybe even more telling was that he took five of their seven field goal attempts during that stretch.
Even with a two-time MVP standing right beside him, even after he went a combined 13-of-39 in Games 1 and 2 of this series, this is who the Bucks trust to take them home. When the game is on the line, it's Middleton time. The team believes in him, and more importantly, he believes in himself.
“I feel like I can score in a lot of different ways,” Middleton said. “Those are the shots they want me to take. I'm confident. I think I'm good enough. I worked on those shots a lot to knock them down, and they went down for me tonight.”
Nets vs. Bucks: Heroic effort from Khris Middleton in Game 3 helps … Thu, 10 Jun 2021 17:00:00 -0700-See what the Brooklyn Nets had to say after their 86-83 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
See what the Brooklyn Nets had to say after their 86-83 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
“You can always go back and look at a game and be like, would have liked this player to shoot or whatever it may but in the moment I thought we still were able to create some good opportunities, very makable opportunities. If you look at it, only one or two buckets in the last three or four minutes that we needed to fall and they just didn't. I thought plenty of opportunities. Now, would I want Kevin or Ky shooting every single ball? Of course, but that's not always the way it works out. We can learn from it. We can grow. We got good looks at times that just didn't go in for us. It was an uncharacteristic night in that respect but also a night that is a new experience for us. On the road and against an elite team in a hostile environment. Very physical game and at times I thought we maybe needed to just slow down a little bit have a little bit more poise and get to our spots.”
“I think it shows we defended well. We can always improve on the defensive end but it was a really solid game. We gave ourself a chance because of our defense. And our offense just couldn't keep up tonight. We're basically a bucket or two short. We'll have to clean up the offense but the defense was pretty solid and it's going to have to continue to be solid.”
“We all know that we want Kevin or Ky to shoot the ball but if they don't get free they got to make the right play. So they made the right play, you give some credit to the Bucks, still we got some makeable looks, we could get better at executing and we can get better at handling these moments. It was a great test for us tonight and I think it was a lot for us to learn from.”
“I like how we defended all game. I like how we rebounded all game. We didn’t let our missed shots dictate our defense especially when we got down big. We tied the game up. We couldn’t score for a few possessions like four or five minutes to go. I think we got good looks. Couple that were open that we missed but that’s part of the game. I just like how we stayed with it and that’s what we have to continue to do with this series is stay with the game, stay with our plan, stay with each other individually. Guys missing shots and we still encouraging one another and keep playing. Our defense has to be there no matter what.”
“They played more physical, they were there at the rim and they just played their regular way, the way they've been playing the whole season. I think we got great looks, we need to knock them down, but they also did a good job of contesting and being physical and blocking shots at the rim. But for the most part we got back into the game, had plays down the stretch and they just ended up making a couple more shots.”
“That really was as simple as making shots. I think we got good looks, we got to the paint, we made the extra pass and we just made shots. Sometimes that's the name of the game. Both teams played incredible defensively, both teams played extremely hard, low turnover game, they had eight blocks, we had eight steals, you know what I mean? So it was one of them grind out games they just made a couple more points, they hit a couple more shots than we did.”
“Shoot, man, they did what they were supposed to do: come out aggressive, backs against the wall, and we had to weather that storm. So definitely kind of put us on our heels for the rest of the game just playing catch up, playing their style of basketball, and then they made some big timely shots which carried them forward. But we had our chances down the stretch. It was a possession-by-possession game. Both teams battling. So that's a good ol fashioned playoff game right there.”
“I think in any NBA basketball game or any competitive field, you start off down and you're gonna have to climb your way out of a hole, otherwise the game can go from 21 to 31 in a matter of five minutes, six minutes, so for us to climb back in it and give ourselves a chance down the stretch, I'm proud of our guys but obviously there's no moral victories in a situation like this. You want to come out with the win.”
“Tonight just shows you that it could go either way. In those final was in less than 24 seconds I thought (Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer) was gonna call the timeout. I'm sure other guys on the floor did too. And they went for the quick two that put them up one. It took pressure off them to come down and get into an organized set. But even just plays before that, and just in and out or just a scramble of the ball. And that's just good old fashioned playoff basketball. So when we get a less than 90-point scoring game on both sides, you look back at the film, we feel like we did a good job defending them. They feel like they did a good job defending us. So Game 4 should be special. But we've definitely got to take our lessons from this game and move on to the next one.”
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– June 11, 2021
Nets, Bucks, Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, bucks vs nets