The Bucks realized they needed more of the so-called “Big Three” when they came home Thursday night, and their top three gave nearly all the heavy lifting to get them back into the second round of the playoff series against the nets.
Leading scorers Giannis Antetokounmpo and Chris Middleton accounted for nearly 80 percent of the team’s offensive output—Junior Holiday’s point guard took the basket for the green light with 11.4 seconds remaining—as the Bucks tied within 2-1 in the series. With a victory 86-83 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 match and we needed this match as much as possible,” Antetokounmo said.It was a low-scoring matchPossession by Possession, you had to get stops and drop shots to win in this game.
“You enjoy winning a game like this, but we can play better.”
The Bucks undoubtedly needed the two-time MVP to make a more dramatic impact than in Game Two (18 points), and Antetokounmpo scored 15 of their 33 points in the first quarter on Thursday.
Middleton also overcame the attacking coma in two games in Brooklyn by matching his fellow superstar with 15 opening and 35 finishes, including two free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining.
“It was just a matter of staying with her,” Middleton said. “I think we did a great job setting the tone tonight…and defensively we did a great job making things difficult for these guys.”
Antetokounmpo admitted he needed to be “more aggressive” at home after the Bucks dropped their first two games in Brooklyn, including a 39-point erase by the Nets in Game 2 on Monday.
While Middleton struggled to find the scoring touch in the first two games (30.2 percent), Greek Frick had at least hit 8-15 from the floor in game two. But he raised nine shots fewer than he had in the net. Team high 34 points in Milwaukee’s 115-107 loss in the opening series.
“I knew I had to be aggressive and let my instincts take over,” Antetokonmo said.
The two Milwaukee stars managed to secure an even split from their team’s first 30-point division in the first quarter on Thursday, combining for 12-for-17 shots, including three three-pointers in as many attempts by Middleton, and three high points flying through the aisle. By Antetokounmpo before the Nets regained the ball to put it close in the final minutes.
“For us we’d have a great first quarter and then things changed, but for us it was just finding a way to win the game,” Bucks coach Mike Poenholzer said. “Your character was tested in the playoffs, now we have to fill our cup back up and get ready to do it again.”
Fiesta wasted 10 of 13 rounds until he found a hole along the right side and circled Bruce Brown to reach the rack to lift the Bucks 84-83 with 11.4 seconds left.
“Brown and I saw it apart, I made a move and it was a good move, and I ended up making it,” Holiday said. “This was one of the only solo plays I played in all the matches. … Now that we have lost 2-1, we have to protect our stadium.”