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Defense Takes Game 3
The final defensive possession of the first quarter for the Bucks summed up where Game 2 was going, and hinted that for the Magic the game was already gone.
Ross played well. He may have been the best player on the day for the Magic. But that moment — getting the ball in a compromising position and trying to find anywhere to go and dribbling it off his shin out of bounds with the clock winding down under pressure and then throwing the ball over his head toward the hoop and taking a look back to see it miss by 10 or 12 feet — was representative of what it was like trying to go at the Bucks.
The best defensive team in the league two years running was in full hounding mode in a quintessential Bucks first half, which is to say, Giannis dominated both ends and the Bucks were up by 20-something for much of the second quarter.
Late in that second quarter, this time it was Vucevic getting pressured into dribbling off himself out of the bounds as Ross. Again, this was not on Vucevic, who largely has been excellent in the series. This was all five Bucks functioning as one.
The first play of the second half was more of the same, in case there was any doubt (there was not any doubt).
The Magic ended up hitting a bunch of threes (19) on a really good percentage (.475), but they still spent every second of the last 34 minutes of the game down by double-digits. The Bucks gave up more threes than any team in the league during the regular season, but they managed the best defense in the league anyway, because they they so owned everything inside the arc. In Game 3, the Bucks outscored the Magic 50–26 in the paint.
Nothing more clearly illustrated that than Giannis making twice as many shots at the rim (10–10) than the entire Magic team made (5–12). And without a miss.
As hard as it was for the Magic getting anything inside, it was as easy as it was for Giannis getting anything inside. The biggest Magic lead of the night was three points (the biggest of the night for the Bucks was 34), at 3–0. From then on, Giannis had his way.