Finals MVP Ladder: Giannis Antetokounmpo powers his way to the top after Game 3

Finals MVP Ladder: Giannis Antetokounmpo powers his way to the top after Game 3

Antetokounmpo’s back-to-back 40-point performances have launched him to the front of the Finals MVP conversation.

MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo started off with the same response to three questions in a row.

“I’m not Michael Jordan,” he kept saying.

With Antetokounmpo having wrapped up his second straight 40-point performance Sunday in leading Milwaukee’s of the NBA Finals, the postgame line of questioning naturally shifted toward comparisons to Jordan’s four consecutive 40-point outings in the 1993 Finals against the Suns.

Smartly, Antetokounmpo resisted taking the bait.

“All I care about right now is getting one more [win], that’s all,” he said.

That singular focus is exactly how Antetokounmpo and the Bucks moved into position to tie up this best-of-seven series heading into Wednesday’s Game 4 at Fiserv Forum (), and why the two-time Kia MVP tops the list in today’s installment of Race to the NBA Finals MVP Ladder.

Relentlessly attacking the rack – similarly to the way he played in Game 2 – Antetokounmpo became the second player in league history to tally 100-plus points and 40-plus rebounds over his first three career Finals games, according to Elias Sports. Antetokounmpo also joined Shaquille O’Neal, who accomplished the feat in Games 1 and 2 of the 2000 NBA Finals, as the only players to rack up 40-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in consecutive Finals outings.

“He’s just doing whatever it takes to help his team, to help us,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “He’s in an aggressive mindset. I thought he played with the pass well. He made some great reads, found guys, played against the zone. He just did a little bit of everything: offensive boards, putbacks. We need a lot from him, and that’s what he does.”

Although Milwaukee lost Game 2 in Phoenix, it became clear as the night progressed that Antetokounmpo could get to the rim just about any time he wanted. Antetokounmpo scored 42 points to go with 12 rebounds in that Game 2 loss, and in Game 3 all his points came from either inside the paint or at the free throw line, where he had struggled over the first two games in Phoenix as Suns fans threw off his concentration by raucously chanting a count with every attempt.

Giannis Antetokounmpo goes for 41 and 13 as Milwaukee tightens the series with a dominant performance at home.

By relentlessly attacking the paint in Game 3, the Bucks’ superstar forward accomplished a couple of objectives. First, Antetokounmpo’s activities inside led to Suns center Deandre Ayton encountering early foul trouble. Ayton played just 24 minutes, accumulating three fouls by halftime before picking up his fourth just 1:35 into the second half.

Antetokounmpo knocked down 13 of his 17 free throws in Game 3. The 13 makes marked his most since 2019.

Antetokounmpo also created open looks for guards Jrue Holiday (21 points) and Khris Middleton (18 points), who shot a combined 12 for 37 from the field in Game 2. The Bucks are 11-2 this postseason when Middleton scores 18 points or more.

“When he’s rolling sometimes, like he was these last two games, you’ve just got to give him the ball, give him his space and allow him to go to work,” Middleton said. “At the same time, we both know what we can do. He knows what we can do. He trusts us with the ball in our hands.”

“Just being able to trust in ourselves knowing that Giannis is going to be consistent and he’s going to do what he does, but we can also make the game easier for him,” Holiday added. “I think by us cutting and taking guys away and trying to give him space to work allows him to make plays for us and be able to knock down those open shots. Even by us cutting and everything, I feel like it opens space for him to go to work. I think it’s a rhythm we’ve kind of gotten into and being able to figure things out, and we did a good job of that tonight.”

It’s got to continue for Milwaukee to become the second team in this year’s playoffs to overcome 2-0 deficits in multiple series in a single postseason.

The Bucks are now 4-0 this postseason in Game 3s.

“We got better from Game 1 to Game 2, and now we’ve gotten better from Game 2 to Game 3,” Antetokounmpo said. “Keep trusting one another, keep trusting winning habits, keep making winning plays, keep competing hard and keep doing it together. But we’ve got to be better.”

And now, the Top 3 in our 2021 Race to the NBA Finals MVP Ladder:

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis puts up 41 points in dazzling Game 3 performance

Giannis puts up 41 points in dazzling Game 3 performance.

34.3 ppg, 14.0 rpg, 1.3 spg, 1.3 bpg

Antetokounmpo’s Game 2 performance gave us all a glimpse of what he would do in Game 3. So the Suns knew what was coming, they just couldn’t stop it. Led by Antetokounmpo, the Bucks finished with a 54-40 edge in points in the paint and they won the battle of second-chance scoring 20-2. “You know what was coming, but [we] just didn’t do enough consistently to withstand their attacking the paint, whether it was penetration [or] offensive rebounding,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “We gave them so many possessions. So, we lost a shot, and then they scored off of it. It was a double whammy.”

2. Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns

Chris Paul crosses up Giannis Antetokounmpo with the slick move before knocking down the fadeaway jumper.

24.7 ppg, 8.7 apg, 1.0 spg

Paul finished with 19 points in Game 3, which marked his lowest scoring output since Game 4 of the Western Conference finals. Paul also committed four turnovers, which tied Mikal Bridges for a game high, with all the turnovers coming over the first three quarters (two in the decisive third quarter) in which Milwaukee built a 22-point lead after Phoenix cut the lead to four points by closing on a 24-6 run. “Me and Jae [Crowder] were just talking about that in the locker room,” Paul said. “That’s something we’ve been talking about all playoffs. So, especially on the road, you’ve got to manage the game. You’ve got to manage those ends of quarters.”

3. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

Devin Booker personified Phoenix's Game 3 woes. How can he and the Suns get back on track?

22.7 ppg, 4.7 apg, 1.0 spg

Booker registered postseason lows in points (10), field goal percentage (21%) and minutes (29) in Game 3. Williams pulled Booker out of the game for good late in the third quarter. “There’s nights like that,” Booker said. “The most important part to me is winning the game, and we didn’t do that. So, I’m more frustrated about that. We’re going to get back right. We’re on the road, and we have to come in with the energy and effort. The 50-50 balls, the offensive rebounds, protect the paint — just the details that we talked about. But that’s what the playoffs is. That’s why it’s a series, and we have some room for improvement.”

And two more:

Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks

16.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 8.3 apg

Over Games 1 and 2, Holiday scored a total 27 points on 11 of 35 from the field and 1 of 7 from 3-point range before racking up 21 points in Game 3 and tying a postseason career-high by knocking down five 3-pointers. When Phoenix pulled to within four in the third quarter, Holiday drilled a pair of 3-pointers as Milwaukee closed the quarter on a 24-6 run.

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns

16.7 ppg, 13.0 rpg, 2.0 spg

Ayton’s foul trouble played a major role in Antetokounmpo’s big night in Game 3. Without their starting center on the floor, the Suns have no way of guarding the Bucks wing. Ayton racked up 16 of his 18 points in the first half on 7-for-9 shooting until foul trouble disrupted everything.

* * *

Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him , find his archive  and follow him on .

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting


Australia tops Team USA in second exhibition game

Australia tops Team USA in second exhibition game

Patty Mills celebrates with Matisse Thybulle and Matthew Dellavedova as they pick up their 2nd straight win.


Training camp and exhibition games are underway in Las Vegas for the USA men’s basketball team as it prepares for the Tokyo Olympics later this month.

Team USA fell 91-83 to Australia in Las Vegas for its second straight exhibition loss.

After a narrow loss to Nigeria on Saturday, Team USA rolled out a new starting lineup against Australia with Jerami Grant and Draymond Green getting nods in the frontcourt. Australia jumped out to an early lead thanks to 15 points combined from Joe Ingles and Patty Mills, but Damian Lillard got Dame Time started a bit early with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the first quarter.

Team USA came out with renewed vigor on the defensive end in the second, limiting the Aussies to just 13 points in the frame. Crisp ball movement and several tough drives from Bradley Beal highlighted the offense.

Team USA entered the half with a nine-point advantage.

Both teams came out of the break with intensity on both ends leading to a hotly contested third quarter. Team USA ceded the lead midway into the third thanks to a strong push and clutch shooting from the Australian side.

Kevin Durant was able to discover his 3-point stroke as the final quarter got underway, and Lillard led the way with 22 points, but Patty Mills scored 10 of his 22 points in the 4th quarter to give Australia the 91-83 win over Team USA.

Back at it tonight in Vegas 👊

🇺🇸 vs 🇦🇺
🕗 8 PM ET / 5 PM PT

— USA Basketball (@usabasketball)


Devin Booker seeks to bounce back from Game 3 struggles

Devin Booker seeks to bounce back from Game 3 struggles

Devin Booker was held under 15 points in Game 3 for the first time in 19 playoff games this postseason.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Devin Booker’s impressive postseason run has hit one of its first real speed bumps.

Now the focus on the Phoenix Suns guard will be how he responds.

Booker shot just 3 of 14 Sunday night and managed just 10 points as the Suns lost 120-100 to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. That performance came after Booker scored 27 points in Game 1 and 31 points in Game 2. It was the first time he’d been held below 15 points in 19 playoff games.

The Suns expect him to bounce back in Game 4 Wednesday night.

“They keyed on him,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “He missed some shots. So that’s going to happen.”

Booker hasn’t experienced many nights like that in this postseason, the first of his six-year NBA career.

How can Devin Booker and the Suns get back on track in Game 4?

He’s averaging 26.3 points in the playoffs and has a total of 500 points. He enters Game 4 just 21 points shy of Rick Barry’s 54-year-old record for total points in a player’s first career postseason, though Barry reached that total in just 15 games.

Before Sunday, Booker had scored at least 22 points in five straight games.

Booker also went 1 of 7 on 3-point attempts Sunday to continue his somewhat erratic recent performance from beyond the arc. He’s 10 of 24 on 3-pointers over his last four games, but that includes a 7-for-12 performance in Game 2 of the Finals. Booker has shot just 3 of 22 on 3-point attempts in the other three games.

“I think I can get better ones,” Booker said of his shot selection. “We’ll make that happen. The point of the game is to win it, and I think there were other things that went on throughout the game. You can say it’s a make/miss game, but at the end of the day, you have to make the other team miss and get easy opportunities for your team.”

Booker said the Suns didn’t give themselves enough of those easy opportunities Sunday night.

In the first two games of this series, Booker had been able to score in a variety of different ways.

Though he was 1 of 8 on 3-pointers in Game 1, he continually drew fouls and made all 10 of his free-throw attempts. He never got to the foul line in Game 2 but sizzled from 3-point range.

Can Milwaukee maintain momentum and pull even in the series or will Phoenix bounce back to take a commanding 3-1 lead?

But nothing really worked for him Sunday night.

The good news for the Suns is that Booker has performed well after struggling in this postseason.

After the Suns took a 2-0 lead over the Los Angeles Clippers, Booker shot 5 of 21 in a 106-92 Game 3 loss. But he averaged 26 points over the last three games of that series, including a 25-point effort in an 84-80 Game 4 victory.

“He’s been in this situation before, as you guys alluded to,” Williams told reporters after Sunday night’s game. “When you get to the finals, it means you’ve been in a number of situations. So this is nothing new to us anymore. He’ll bounce back.”

Booker again must try to come back from a subpar Game 3 performance and help the Suns take a commanding 3-1 series lead. He’s ready for the challenge.

“We have a few days off here,” Booker said. “We’re going to get back right and (we’re) going to go over film and be ready Wednesday.”


76ers hire Thaddeus 'Tad' Brown as organization's CEO

CAMDEN, N.J. and NEWARK, N.J. – Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE) Co-Founders Josh Harris and David Blitzer announced today that Thaddeus “Tad” Brown has been named Chief Executive Officer. In his role as CEO, Brown will oversee all business and growth functions for the HBSE brand and its properties, including the Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center. Brown begins with the organization on Tuesday, Aug. 3.

“We are thrilled to welcome Tad to the HBSE family,” said HBSE Co-Founder Josh Harris. “Tad is an exceptional leader in our industry, and one with a deep passion for innovation and community engagement. With nearly twenty years’ experience leading the Houston Rockets and Toyota Center, we are confident that he will bring a fresh energy and new ideas to our teams, organization and local communities.”

We are proud to welcome Tad Brown to the 76ers family as the new CEO of HBSE.

— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers)

“Tad has an extensive track record of success in the sports and entertainment industry, and we are excited to have him on board to lead our elite management team for HBSE’s next chapter,” said Co-Founder David Blitzer. “With his experience and passion for growing businesses and global brands, he is poised to continue our organization’s path forward and reach new levels of achievement.”

Brown joins HBSE after nearly two decades with the Houston Rockets, Toyota Center and Clutch City Sports and Entertainment, 15 of which were spent as CEO. In his role in Houston, he was a member of the NBA’s Board of Governors, served as the representative to the Executive Committee, and served on the league’s Media Committee. Over his tenure, Brown helped position the Rockets as one of the NBA’s premier global franchises, as well as a cornerstone of the Houston community. The business thrived under his leadership, setting Toyota Center records for sellouts, attendance, total events, and customer satisfaction. Additionally, Houston hosted NBA All-Star Weekend in both 2006 and 2013, as Brown played a key role in making Toyota Center the first NBA building to have two All-Star Games over a seven-year period. His extensive knowledge of media rights helped fuel the Rockets growth, including the creation of the Houston Regional Sports Network in 2012, now established as AT&T SportsNet Southwest.

In 2017, Brown orchestrated the sale of the Rockets by Leslie Alexander to Tilman Fertitta for a then-NBA and global sports franchise record $2.2 billion.

In addition to guiding the business growth and success of the Rockets and Toyota Center, Brown led the organization’s strong community outreach and charitable endeavors. He was past President of the Houston Children’s Charities, served on the Board of the Greater Houston Partnership’s Opportunity Houston Committee and the Board of Central Houston, as well as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Brown’s move to HBSE also reunites him with longtime friend and colleague, Daryl Morey, the 76ers President of Basketball Operations. During their time together in Houston from 2007-2020, the Rockets compiled a 640-400 (.615) record, the second-best of any NBA team, while becoming one of the NBA’s most successful franchises.

“I want to thank Josh Harris and David Blitzer for this incredible opportunity to lead HBSE in its next chapter,” Brown said. “This role not only allows me to work for innovators like Josh and David; it also allows me to work alongside some of the industry’s best talent that has been assembled across the HBSE organization. This is a world-class sports and entertainment organization that cares about the cities and fans it serves. My family and I are thrilled to begin our new journey and I’m eager to help guide HBSE to even greater heights.”

Prior to joining the Rockets, Brown was a Founder and President of Streetball Partners International. For more than a decade, he worked in partnership with NBC Sports and the NBA to build Streetball into the world’s largest global grassroots basketball property.

Brown is a graduate of Colgate University, where he was a four-year starter and three-year captain of the varsity basketball team. He and his wife, Janice, have four daughters.


Vote for the 2020-21 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year

The Jr. NBA and Positive Coaching Alliance today announced the eight semifinalists for the 2021 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year award, which recognizes a youth basketball coach who is making a positive impact on local boys and girls by demonstrating outstanding integrity, character and leadership. Vote for the 2020-21 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year

Each participating NBA, WNBA and G League team nominated a local coach, who was entered into the national Coach of the Year selection process for consideration. An evaluation led by the NBA, Jr. NBA and then narrowed the pool of nominees down to eight national semifinalists. This year’s semifinalists were nominated by the Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks, Las Vegas Aces, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Sioux Falls Skyforce. , an interview, and a public fan vote on social media will now determine the top three finalists and the 2021 national Jr. NBA Coach of the Year winner.

Below are the eight nominees.

Mariah Chandler

Team: Memphis Grizzlies

Organization: Memphis Grizzlies Basketball Operations

Years coaching: 8 Vote for the 2020-21 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year

Mariah Chandler, a former national champion at Baylor University, has utilized her athletic prowess and energy to teach the game to youth players. She’s currently working in basketball operations for the Grizzlies and has been heavily involved in the organization’s youth basketball efforts.

Chandler’s highlights as a coach include stints with Cheyney University, North Greenville University, The Galloway School (HS) and Skills Factory & Peak Performance (AAU). Over the last year, Chandler has played a key role in the Grizzlies’ virtual content efforts, leading Jr. NBA at Home sessions, Summertime Virtual Workouts, and a Skills & Drills tutorial series. She also volunteers with the Ronald McDonald House and Habitat For Humanity and has traveled abroad to Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Brazil for basketball-based mission work using the game to address pertinent social issues.

Chandler has displayed the ability to teach the game on the court, supporting the development of G League hopefuls and NBA players alike. As a coach, she’s been applauded for her mentorship, embracing change and hard work. She tells her young players to “show the world that you’re prepared for anything.”

Carl Evans

Team: Los Angeles Lakers

Organization: Skirball Middle School (After School All-Stars Site)

Years coaching: 20 Vote for the 2020-21 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year

Carl Evans is a longstanding coach and leader within the South LA community, specifically in the city of Watts. Evans works tirelessly with his students to provide them proper access to physical education and sporting equipment. He’s shown a willingness to invest his own resources and time (14+ hours a day) to support his players. Evans also doubles as the middle school’s Athletic Director and works with After School All-Stars, a Junior Lakers community partner.

Evans’ coaching philosophy emphasizes shaping character and developing relationships. Early on in his coaching career, he embraced his role as a positive male influence on young men of color and made a commitment to serving as a mentor to them.

Evans is committed to social justice reform and has used the game of basketball to bridge the gap between local law enforcement and his students from diverse communities around LA. Evans’ former students speak highly of him, noting he’s helped shape their lives long after graduation.

Natalie Gutierrez

Team: LA Clippers

Organization: LA Clippers Youth Basketball; Peace Players; Calabasas High School; LA Valley College

Years coaching: 6 Vote for the 2020-21 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year

Natalie Gutierrez is a Peace Players Program Coordinator, dedicated to finding ways to empower youth in the LA community. Not only does Gutierrez handle coaching at the high school and college level, she has also directed Nike clinics, coached in the Jr. Drew league and led a team for Kobe Bryant’s Mamba League.

Gutierrez continuously looks for opportunities to engage youth in undeserved and underfunded communities. Her devotion to the game and personal growth has led her to planning “Her Time To Play” clinics and panels annually, in which she works with girls from the Boys and Girls Club of LA. During those clinics, she’s impressed the Clippers organization by organizing off-the-court activities for players including journaling, meditating, or creating confidence-building exercises.

Gutierrez’s on-court philosophy centers on balancing hard work and fun. She’s known to lead by example and leaves it all on the hardwood during her workouts.

Sarah Horowitz

Team: Brooklyn Nets

Organization: Yeshivah of Flatbush; Little Ballers

Years coaching: 6 Vote for the 2020-21 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year

Early on in her coaching career, Sarah Horowitz has established herself as a mature, distinguished coach. She started coaching young girls from Brooklyn’s Midwood sector while in college and quickly gained experience as an assistant high school coach at every level within her alma mater (five teams total). Horowitz also hosts her private clinics at a local community program called “Little Ballers” which oversees hundreds of girls ages three and up.

Horowitz instills self-belief and confidence in the young girls she works with on a day-to-day basis. She encourages players to have fun on the court and reminds them to never give up. She takes pride in the relationships she has built with her players as many feel comfortable coming to her for support as a mentor.

At a young age, Horowitz plans to get more involved with the Nets organization and figured to impact countless youth in the Brooklyn area moving forward.

Andre Lodree Jr.

Team: Chicago Bulls

Organization: Bulls Kid Nation Youth Hoops; Four Point Play

Years coaching: 8 Vote for the 2020-21 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year

Andre Lodree Jr. works year-round as a coach and brand ambassador for Bulls Youth Hoops Coaches and co-founded a nonprofit organization called “Four Point Play,” which focuses on fortifying young people’s mind, body and spirit through sports.

Lodree Jr. hammers home three different coaching themes: have fun, “can’t” doesn’t exist and always hustle. He knows basketball isn’t everything and that there’s plenty of life ahead beyond the game. He’s imposed classroom expectations on all his athletes – they must achieve stable attendance, participation and grades in all classes. Lodree Jr. connects with his players mentally, he challenging them to think about why they’re participating in drills and what they hope to get out of them.

During the pandemic, Lodree Jr. worked with his nonprofit to distribute over 900 Athletic Care Bags that included a basketball, jump rope, cones, water bottle, workout plans and nutrition education. One of his main goals as a basketball coach is to unite youth from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds all around Chicago.

Bill Maxwell

Team: Sioux Falls Skyforce

Organization: Parkston Trojans

Years coaching: 10 Vote for the 2020-21 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year

Bill Maxwell serves as a referee for the local middle school and JV basketball program at Parkston High School. He also allocates his time away from being a local businessman and independent insurance agent to volunteer as a coach during weekend practices and tournaments for boys and girls in the Sioux Falls area.

Maxell is an advocate for two Jr. NBA philosophies, leaning into the ELM Tree (Effort, Learning, Mistakes) and ROOTS (respect for Rules, Officials, Opponents, Team and Self). For application on and off the court, Maxwell believes in contribution to a group, whether on a team, at home, in the classroom, or in the community.

As the head of a foster household, Maxwell often relates his parenting experience to coaching. He understands evaluating youth and utilizing fundamentals to develop their skills and personal characteristics. Maxwell’s ongoing positivity and commitment to young athletes have set him apart in the local community.

Clarence Mugsy Leggett

Team: New York Knicks

Organization: Wizkids Basketball

Years coaching: 30 Vote for the 2020-21 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year

Clarence Mugsy Leggett has spent the past 30 years of his life uplifting young athletes and families in the Baychester area of the Bronx, which has some of the highest crime and high school drop-out rates in the nation. Leggett grew up a small, tough-nosed kid from inner NYC, and was determined to better himself and those around him. He began coaching at 15 years old and never looked back.

Leggett has over 1,000 kids in his Wizkids Basketball program and understands it takes a village to teach them. The program emphasizes building life skills, and he’s inspired by the personal development of his athletes as they go on to graduate from college, start successful careers, raise families and come back to mentor children in the area. Leggett could have expanded his program elsewhere or moved out of the Bronx, yet he continues to mold positive social change in the borough.

Leggett’s been instrumental in providing proper access to basketball and physical education to young people in Baychester despite the disadvantaged households they come from. He is known for being a remarkable father figure to so many, while leaving no child behind. His motto is “One Team, One Family.”

Anjelica Ostrea

Team: Las Vegas Aces

Organization: Girls Youth Basketball Las Vegas

Years coaching: 7

Vote for the 2020-21 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year

Anjelica Ostrea created Girls Youth Basketball (GYB) with the primary purpose of building equal opportunities and athletic growth for young women in the Las Vegas area. Ostrea’s GYB website states “Girls simply do not receive the same positive reinforcement in sports as boys do. At GYB we aim to develop basketball skills, sportsmanship and self-esteem through our coaches, gym officials and organizers.”

Ostrea, known by her players as “Coach Anjee,” stands out in a packed gym of 400 girls as someone who truly cares about every single participant and finds genuine happiness in their success. Ostrea’s program caters to players at all levels and was a finalist for the Jr. NBA Program of the Year Award a few years back.

Relationship building is one of Ostrea’s strong suits, connecting with female advocates such as Sheryl Swoopes, Cynthia Cooper and Skylar Diggins-Smith. These influential athletes have taken time to speak to the GYB program to help guide its players. Ostrea always looks for ways to motivate her girls and she wants them to feel they’re every bit as special as their male counterparts.


Inside the Box Score, 2021 NBA Finals, Game 3

Inside the Box Score, 2021 NBA Finals, Game 3

Giannis Antetokounmpo joined Shaquille O’Neal as the only players with consecutive 40-10 games in the NBA Finals.

Behind a dominant performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo (41 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists), the Bucks earned a 120-100 win over the Suns in Game 3 of the 2021 NBA Finals to pull within 2-1 in the series. Let’s dig into all facets of the box score to take a closer look at the Bucks’ win.

Note: To find these stats, , then use the drop down menu at the top left (the default view is Traditional) and select the box score you want to view (Advanced, Misc, Player Tracking, etc.). You can also used the By Period filter to look at quarter-by-quarter stats for all box score types that do not use player tracking information.

Traditional Stats

• Giannis Antetokounmpo joined Shaquille O’Neal as the only players in Finals history to record . Giannis followed up his 42-point, 12-rebound performance in Milwaukee’s Game 2 loss, with 41 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in Milwaukee’s Game 3 win.

• Through the first two games of the series, the Bucks’ backcourt of Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton was outscored by the Suns’ backcourt of Chris Paul and Devin Booker, 113-67. to shoot 36.4% FG and 28.0% 3P, compared to 49.4% FG and 46.9% 3P for . In Game 3, the tables turned as Holiday and Middleton , 47.1% 3P while Paul and Booker combined for 29 points on 39.3% FG, 18.2% 3P.

• After the Suns drained a franchise playoff-record 20 3-pointers in their Game 2 win, they in Game 3. Milwaukee had a 15-point advantage on 3-point shooting in Game 3 as they from long range. Jae Crowder shot 6-7 from 3-point range for Phoenix, while all other Suns combined to shoot 3-24 (12.5%).

• Milwaukee finished with a 47-36 advantage on the glass, including a 13-6 edge on offensive boards, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis collecting four offensive rebounds each. The Bucks finished with seven more shots attempts than the Suns in Game 3, as well as 10 more free throw attempts. Milwaukee’s 20 free throws made they’ve knocked down in a game this postseason. After shooting 18-30 (60%) at the line in the first two games in Phoenix, (76.5%) in Game 3.

• Chris Paul tied for the game-high in assists with nine to bring his career playoff total to 1,050 and pass Scottie Pippen (1,048) for ninth place on the . Paul now needs 12 assists to pass Steve Nash and 13 to pass Larry Bird and overtake the No. 7 spot on the list.

Advanced Stats

• Giannis Antetokounmpo posted his (36.0%) and third-highest true shooting percentage (67.3%) of the postseason in Game 3 of the Finals.

• Bobby Portis finished with an offensive rebound rate of 19.0% as he tied for the game-high with four offensive rebounds in just 18 minutes on the court.

• The Suns offense scored just 86.3 points per 100 possessions in Cameron Payne’s 25 minutes on the court – that is the lowest mark of any player that logged at least 16 minutes.

• After missing all eight of his shots in Game 1, Jae Crowder has found his shooting stroke over the past two games: 4-8 FG, 3-5 3P in Game 2; 6-7 FG (all 3P) in Game 3. Here are Crowder’s true shooting percentages in this series: 5.6% in Game 1 (he made one free throw), 68.8% in Game 2, 128.6% in Game 3.

Miscellaneous Stats

• Giannis Antetokounmpo ; the only points that came outside of five feet were his 13 free throws.

• The Bucks finished with a 20-2 advantage in second-chance points; Giannis finished with a game-high 12 second-chance points; no other player had more than three.

• The Bucks committed just nine turnovers, which led to 10 Suns points in Game 3. The Suns had 14 turnovers, which led to 17 points for the Bucks: nine by Giannis, six by Khris Middleton and two by PJ Tucker.

• Jrue Holiday had as many fast break points by himself (6) as the entire Suns team (6) as the Bucks outscored the Suns 16-6 on fast breaks.

Scoring Stats

• Chris Paul shot just 1-4 from 3-point range and 2-4 inside the paint, but went as those shots accounted for 52.6% of his points.

• As mentioned above, all of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s points came either inside the paint (28 PTS, 68.3% of total) or at the free throw line (13 PTS, 31.7% of total). Giannis has at the free throw line four times in this playoffs, three of those games have come in this series.

• The Bucks , compared to 52.5% for the Suns. Prior to Game 3, the teams were fairly even in assist percentage, with the Suns holding a 52.4% to 51.2% edge.

Usage Stats

• Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 41.8% of Milwaukee’s points while he was on the court in Game 3; the closest any other player came to that mark was Deandre Ayton, who scored 35.3% of Phoenix’s points while he was on the court. However, Ayton was limited to 24 minutes due to foul trouble.

• Bobby Portis posted the second-highest usage rate of the night for Milwaukee at 28.2%. In his 18 minutes on the court, Portis scored 22.4% of Milwaukee’s points and had 57.1% of Milwaukee’ offensive rebounds.

• Devin Booker scored only 15.9% of Phoenix’s points while he was on the court in Game 3, which marks the . He had only this season with a lower percentage of scoring (11.4% in 26 minutes in a win over New Orleans on Dec. 29).

Four Factors

• Milwaukee’s of The Finals: 0.182 in Game 1, 0.247 in Game 2 and 0.289 in Game 3. The Bucks also posted their highest effective field goal percentage (55.6%) and lowest turnover percentage (9.3%) of the series in Game 3.

• Phoenix’s of the series: 8.8% in Game 1, 13.7% in Game 2 and 15.5% in Game 3.

Hustle Stats

• Deandre Ayton recorded eight of Phoenix’s 12 screen assists in Game 3 as the Suns scored 21 points off screen compared to just five (on three screen assists) from the Bucks.

• Jrue Holiday recorded a game-high five deflections in Game 3; no other player had more than two (PJ Tucker, Giannis, Middleton, Ayton, Booker, Paul, Payne). While Holiday only recorded one steal, the Bucks held a significant advantage (8-3) in both steals and points off turnovers (17-10).

Player Tracking

• The Suns (44.8% on 58 FGA) and Bucks (45.5% on 55 FGA) were fairly even in the number of uncontested shots they got and how well they shot them. The Suns had a superior percentage on contested shots (56.0% to 51.4%), but the Bucks had the edge in attempts. The Bucks finished the seven extra field goal attempts (90-83) thanks to their edge in both offensive rebounding and turnovers; they also attempted 10 more free throws than Phoenix (26-16).

• Cam Johnson shot 4-5 on contested shots (including his highlight reel dunk over P.J. Tucker), but was just 1-6 on uncontested shots. Devin Booker (3-12), Cameron Payne (1-4) and Torrey Craig (1-5) all struggled to know down open looks for Phoenix.

• Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday combined to shoot 12-23 on uncontested looks, and 2-5 on contested looks, in Game 3. Middleton (88) and Holiday (82) also led the Bucks in touches, while Giannis had 71 and ; that is second only to Brook Lopez (0.647 points per touch on 17 touches) in Game 3.

Defensive Stats

• In addition to his 41-16-6, Giannis also provided strong defense in Game 3 as he held his opponents to 44.4% FG, 33.3% 3P and forced five turnovers in 13:13 of matchup time.

• Khris Middleton logged a game-high 14:07 of defensive matchup time and allowed only seven points on 2-7 FG, 0-2 3P over 51 defensive possessions.

• Deandre Ayton was limited to 8:16 of matchup time due to foul trouble, but held opponents to 35.7% (5-14 FG, 1-5 3P) shooting while he was on the court.

• While Cameron Payne had an off shooting night (3-10 FG, 0-2 3P), defensively he held his matchups to three points on 1-7 FG, 0-4 3P in 8:49 of matchup time.


• The impact of Ayton being limited by foul trouble can be seen in the matchup data as he held Giannis Antetokounmpo to one point on 0-4 shooting in 2:14 (17.9% of Giannis’ offensive matchup time). Giannis scored 11 points on 4-6 FG, 3-6 FT in 4:44 against Jae Crowder; seven points on 3-3 FG, 1-1 FT in 1:19 against Mikal Bridges; and eight points on 2-3 FG, 4-4 FT in just 51 seconds against Cameron Johnson

• Devin Booker scored six points on 2-3 FG, 2-3 FT in 3:37 against P.J. Tucker in Game 3, but was held to one point on 0-5 FG, 1-2 FT in 4:42 of combined matchup time against either Khris Middleton or Jrue Holiday.

• Khris Middleton finished with 18 points but did not score against either of his top two primary defenders – Mikal Bridges (0-0 FG in 4:13) and Cameron Johnson (0-1 FG in 2:49) – in what accounted for 51.4% of his offensive matchup time.


Nigeria shocks USA in pre-Olympic opener

Nigeria shocks USA in pre-Olympic opener

Nigeria celebrates after its 90-87 upset of the heavily-favored USA Saturday in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — This is not how USA Basketball expected to open its Olympic summer.

Nigeria probably didn’t expect it, either.

If there was any expectation of invincibility for the Americans heading into the Tokyo Olympics, it’s already gone — after Nigeria shocked the U.S. 90-87 on Saturday night.

Nigeria pulled off an international shocker with a roster primarily filled of little-known NBA players that found a way to beat a group of All-NBA, All-Star and max-contract performers.

Gabe Vincent pours in game-high 21 points for Nigeria against Team USA.

“I thought that the Nigerian team played very physically, did a great job in that regard and knocked down a lot of 3s,” U.S. coach Gregg Popovich said. “Give them credit.”

Gabe Nnamdi, who goes by Gabe Vincent when playing for the Miami Heat, led Nigeria with 21 points. Caleb Agada scored 17 points, Ike Nwamu added 13 and Nigeria outscored the U.S. 60-30 from 3-point range.

Kevin Durant, who had never before played in a loss for USA Basketball in 39 senior international games, had 17 points. Jayson Tatum added 15, Damian Lillard had 14 and Bam Adebayo 11.

“Just goes to show that we have to play better,” Tatum said.

The Americans had gone 39-0 in their last three Olympic seasons — including pre-Olympic exhibitions — on their way to gold medals and had been 54-2 in major exhibitions since NBA players began playing for USA Basketball in 1992. Plus, they’d beaten Nigeria by a combined 127 points in their last two meetings, one at the 2012 London Games, the other a warm-up for the 2016 Rio Games.

Nigeria lost to the U.S. at the 2012 Olympics by 83 points. Lost to the Americans again four years later in an exhibition, that time by 44 points.

Not this time.

“Nigeria’s come a long way with their basketball,” USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said.

Ike Iroegbu — a former Washington State player who some time in the G League — hit a 3-pointer with about 1:15 left to put Nigeria up 88-80. Durant scored the next seven points for the U.S.; a 3-pointer, two free throws following a turnover, then two more from the line with 16.5 seconds remaining.

Nnamdi made two foul shots with 13.2 seconds left to restore Nigeria’s 3-point edge. The Americans ran 9.7 seconds off the clock on the ensuing possession without getting a shot off, and Zach LaVine missed a pair of free throws — the second intentionally — with 3.5 seconds left.

Precious Achiuwa got the rebound for Nigeria, and that was it. It’s only an exhibition — but the upset was still of the massive variety, the 22nd-ranked nation by FIBA beating the No. 1-ranked team and three-time reigning Olympic gold medalists.

Popovich heard the final buzzer and shook hands with Nigeria coach Mike Brown, the Golden State assistant, as the Americans walked off stunned.

There was an injury scare for the Americans late in the second quarter, when LaVine got hurt on a play where he was closing out against Nnamdi. He went airborne after a head fake and came down awkwardly, grabbing at his left ankle before getting up and going directly to the U.S. locker room.

LaVine was fine and returned in the third quarter.

The bigger scare was the scoreboard. Nigeria trailed only 43-41 at the half, led for long stretches of the opening 20 minutes, and simply wasn’t going away.



The Wrap: Full coverage from Game 3 of the 2021 NBA Finals

Game 3 Final Score: |

The Lede: Milwaukee had waited nearly 50 years to taste another victory in the Finals. Giannis Antetokounmpo  ensured it happened with his second straight on the NBA’s ultimate stage, a feat only previously accomplished by Shaquille O’Neal. The former two-time Kia MVP led the Bucks’ charge in the paint on one end while disrupting Phoenix’s offense on the other, especially in a second-quarter stretch that saw Milwaukee outscore the Suns 30-9. In a reversal of the first two games, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton combined for 39 points on 50% shooting, while Suns All-Star Devin Booker struggled en route to just 10 points before sitting out the entire fourth quarter. The series is now a 2-1 affair with a pivotal Game 4 coming up on Wednesday ().

Game 3 Coverage:

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Jrue Holiday's Game 3 turnaround gives Milwaukee new hope in the Finals.

Top Plays & Highlights:

Ultimate Highlight: Bucks pick up win to tighten series

Postgame News Conferences & Interviews:

Giannis Antetokounmpo touches on his long journey to the NBA and trying to enjoy every day, especially his Finals experience.


Giannis Antetokounmpo posts back-to-back 40-point, 10-rebound Finals games

Giannis Antetokounmpo has logged 40 or more points in Games 2 and 3 of The Finals to join elite company.

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s regular season accolades already stood solidly alongside the greatest legends of the game. Now his postseason accomplishments are beginning to do the same.

The former two-time Kia MVP dominated in Milwaukee’s win over Phoenix on Sunday, amassing 41 points and 13 rebounds as the Bucks earned their first Finals victory since 1974 and made the current series a 2-1 affair.

Antetokounmpo’s performance comes on the heels of his 42-point, 12-rebound effort in Game 2. The Grecian-born superstar becomes just the second player in NBA history with back-to-back 40-point, 10-rebound games in the Finals, joining Hall-of-Fame big man Shaquille O’Neal.

Giannis joins Shaq.

41 PTS, 13 REB for Giannis as MIL wins Game 3 of the presented by YouTube TV.

— NBA (@NBA)

Simply scoring 40 points in consecutive Finals games was rare enough; Antetokounmpo is just the sixth player in league history to do it, joining Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Rick Barry, LeBron James, and O’Neal.

“At the end of the day, what I think is ‘always stay aggressive. Always try to get downhill,’” Antetokounmpo said after Game 3.

He has done so in vintage fashion. In Games 2 and 3 combined, the All-NBA forward has scored 74 of his 83 points either in the paint or at the free throw line.


Magic hire Jamahl Mosley as coach

Magic hire Jamahl Mosley as coach

Jamahl Mosley has officially been named the Magic coach.

ORLANDO (AP) – Jamahl Mosley has agreed to become the new coach of the Orlando Magic, , giving the longtime NBA assistant his first chance at running his own club.

Mosley becomes the 14th coach in Magic history. He replaces Steve Clifford, who left Orlando by mutual agreement after three seasons and two playoff appearances.

The 42-year-old Mosley has spent the last 15 years as an assistant in Denver, Cleveland and Dallas. The last seven seasons were with the Mavericks, and his name has been discussed as a candidate in coaching searches for some time.

Most recently, Mosley was with USA Basketball last week in Las Vegas as an assistant coach for the national Select Team — the group brought in to practice against the team that will represent the U.S. at the Tokyo Games. Mosley worked in Las Vegas under Miami coach Erik Spoelstra; they’ll now become division rivals in the NBA with Mosley taking over the Magic.

We have named Jamahl Mosley as our head coach.

Welcome to Orlando, Coach Mosley!

— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic)

“We would like to welcome Jamahl and his family to the Magic family,” said Jeff Weltman, president of basketball operations. “Within the NBA coaching community, Jamahl is considered a rising star. His coaching path is rooted in player development. He is a communicator and connector, and we look forward to him leading our group.”

Mosley will oversee a rebuilding project in Orlando. The Magic finished 21-51 this season, trading away Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier during the season to acquire young players and draft picks, and they hold two of the top eight picks in this year’s draft.

Mosley’s hiring gives the NBA 11 Black coaches out of 28 filled jobs right now, with Washington and New Orleans still vacant. Orlando is one of nine teams that has changed or will change coaches since the start of the 2020-21 season.

He also is the fifth Black coach to be hired in recent weeks, joining Boston’s Ime Udoka, Portland’s Chauncey Billups, Dallas’ Jason Kidd and Atlanta’s Nate McMillan — who was promoted from his role as the Hawks’ interim coach.

The Magic said they plan to introduce Mosley formally on Monday.