What Went Wrong for the Suns in Game 3 of the NBA Finals?

Game 3 of the NBA Finals
People stand next to a NBA logo at the NBA Exhibition at the 3rd China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai on November 5, 2020. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Game 3 of the NBA Finals, was a pivotal game in the series. If the Phoenix Suns were able to come out on top, they would have taken a commanding 3-0 lead. Grabbing a 3-0 lead would have almost guaranteed the Suns the 2021 title. Unfortunately for the Suns, the outcome was the exact opposite. Instead, the Milwaukee Bucks managed to dismantle the young Suns and cut the series to a 2-1 deficit. If truth be told, Game 3 of the NBA Finals could be described as a tale of two halves in comparison to Games 1 and 2.

What Went Wrong in Game 3 of the NBA Finals?

There wasn’t just one play that went wrong or even a couple of possessions, the Suns simply did not show up in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. The adjustments that should’ve been made from Game 2 were nonexistent at best, and the Suns were not ready for a competitive ball game.

Devin Booker’s Offensive Struggles

It’s not a secrete that Devin Booker is a rising star in the league and will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years. But tonight the young guard didn’t perform at the level he can and needs to perform at. Booker couldn’t get in a rhythm all night and only shot 3/14 from the field. Every player can have an off night, but this is the NBA Finals-there are no off nights.

Booker can not have these performances if he wants to add a title to his resume. Not only did he struggle shooting the ball, but he also had trouble dishing the ball out to his teammates. Booker only had two assists and committed one turnover in 30 minutes of action. In fact, he had such an off night, that Coach Monty Williams made the decision to end his night in the third quarter.

Coach Williams checked Booker out of the game with 48 seconds left in the third and wouldn’t sub him back in for the remainder of the game. If he can’t get into a rhythm on the offensive end, he has to make sure he is affecting the game in a different way. Tonight he didn’t do that and that played a major role in tonight’s loss.

Giannis Antetokounmpo Is A Monster

Giannis Antetokounmpo spearheaded the Suns and willed the Bucks to a victory in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. This type of performance is not a rare occurrence from the Greek Freak, but it is certainly eye-opening whenever he has one of these performances.

He finished the game with 41 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists. He was also a force on the defensive end, making it difficult for Suns center Deandre Ayton to establish himself. Antetokounmpo limited Ayton to only 18 points and nine rebounds which was a key factor in the Bucks’ dominant win in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Ayton did however drill six of his first seven shots and become the first center since Shaquille O’Neal in 2004 to score 12 points in an NBA Finals quarter.

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Did the Suns Do Anything Well?

It’s easy, and maybe tempting, to look at the final score and say there were no positives that came out of Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Although there wasn’t a lot to point to, it would be ignorant to ignore this performance.

Cameron Johnson Is Establishing Himself As the X-Factor

Cam Johnson has quickly risen in the Suns’ rotation. Johnson started the 2021 campaign as just another guy on the Suns’ bench. But throughout the season, and postseason, Johnson has established himself as the go-to guy on the bench. With Booker’s off night, Johnson did his best to fill in those shoes by contributing 14 points and five rebounds off of the bench.

Cam Johnson was crucial in the Suns’ third-quarter comeback, scoring nine of his 14 points in 2:32. Without a doubt, Johnson is quickly becoming the Suns’ “x-factor” in the NBA Finals. In fact, Johnson’s performance was so good that it led to the official Twitter account for the Suns to briefly change their name to this:

Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game, or the series, Johnson is making himself a threat off of the Suns’ bench.

What to Expect In Game 4?

The Suns need to come ready to play in Game 4. In Game 3 of the NBA Finals, the Suns trailed early and took them a moment to catch up to the Bucks. Although the Suns would gain a small lead, they ultimately gave it up and would trail for the remainder of the game. The Suns need to come out with aggression and assert themselves into the game right from the opening tip.

Devin Booker also needs to get going early and establish his presence. The better he plays, the more defensive attention he will receive, which will create opportunities for his teammates. Game 4 of the NBA Finals will be on Wednesday, July 14 at the Fiserv Forum. Tip-off is at 9:00 PM EST.

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