The Milwaukee Bucks dominated the Boston Celtics in just about every facet during their 116-92 win in Game 3 of their first-round NBA playoff series Friday night.
And one area that proved particularly effective for the Bucks was their 3-point shooting.
The Bucks made just eight threes in their Game 1 loss and only seven threes in their Game 2 defeat. The Celtics hit 23 3-pointers in their two wins, and it was a huge difference in those games.
Milwaukee was much improved Friday night with the support of their home crowd at BMO Harris Bradley Center. They hit 16 of 33 3-point attempts in Game 3, and the Celtics couldn’t match it — connecting on eight of 23 attempts from deep.
The Bucks’ problem in the first two games wasn’t that they shot poorly from beyond the arc. They made almost 40 percent of their 3-pointers in Boston — they just didn’t take enough of them. Milwaukee clearly made an effort to let it fly from deep early and often Friday night, and the strategy paid off. It was a team effort, too, as nine of the 12 Bucks who played hit at least one 3-point field goal.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (3-for-4), Khris Middleton (3-for-6) and Thon Maker (3-for-4) led the barrage from beyond the arc.
The Celtics must do a much better job running shooters off the 3-point line and contesting these attempts or the series likely will return to Boston even at two games apiece.
Here are some other notes from Celtics vs. Bucks Game 3:
— The Bucks played much better defensively. They blocked 13 shots — five of which came from Maker — contested most shots and played with a much more physical mentality than the C’s. Milwaukee bullied Boston all game, and the young C’s didn’t handle it well. This was the kind of physical, high-energy defensive effort the Bucks need to employ the rest of the series if they are going to reach Round 2.
— Maker was a huge factor off the bench. His blocked shots were key, but he also chipped in 14 points and was on fire from 3-point range (see above). He played one minute and scored zero points over the first two games, and with Bucks starting center John Henson out with an injury Friday, Maker had to step up and he did.
— Jabari Parker played poorly in Boston and was openly frustrated about his playing time after Game 2. He was given 30 minutes of action — his highest of the series — and rewarded Bucks coach Joe Prunty with 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting. The Duke product also played solid defense on the perimeter, which has been a weakness of his game for many years.
Parker and Maker scored 31 of Milwaukee’s 59 bench points. The Celtics got just 34 points from their entire second unit.
— Bucks forward Khris Middleton has hit 12 of his 19 3-point shots in this series. He scored 31 points in Game 1, 25 in Game 2 and 23 in Game 3. Middleton also is doing a good job using his superior length and size to overpower smaller Celtics players in mismatches off pick-and-rolls.
— The Celtics didn’t take care of the basketball. They committed 16 turnovers after coughing up the ball just five times in Game 2. Terry Rozier, who didn’t turn the ball over once in 78 minutes over the first two games, committed five in the first half alone.
— Rozier played his worst game of the series by far. He scored nine points on 2-for-7 shooting (1-for-5 from beyond the arc). A lot was made of Rozier outplaying Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe over the first two games, but the veteran got the better of his Celtics counterpart in Game 3 with 17 points on 8-for-13 shooting.
— The Celtics played just about the worst possible first quarter. They shot 2-for-18 (1-for-8 on 3-pointers), missed their last 13 shots and went more than nine minutes without a basket. Seven of their 12 points came from the free throw line. No player for the C’s scored more than three points.
Thumbnail photo via Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports