Magic Struggle to Slow Down Bucks’ Offense in Game 3 Loss
More so in Game 3 than in either of the first two games of the series, Giannis Antetokounmpo showed why he is the heavy favorite to capture his second straight NBA MVP Award. The 6-foot-11, 242-pound forward was virtually unstoppable, making 12 of his 14 shot attempts and finishing with 35 points. Led by Antetokounmpo, the Bucks flexed their collective muscle on both ends of the floor early on and built a 34-point lead. However, the Magic kept fighting and trimmed that deficit to as low as 12 before falling 121-107 on Saturday at Walt Disney World. Game 4, with Milwaukee leading the series 2-1, is set for Monday at 1:30 p.m.
In Game 2, the Magic’s offense stalled, as they totaled just 96 points and hit only seven 3-pointers. Although the Bucks’ stout defense made things awfully tough again for the Magic to generate offense, Orlando’s sharp ball movement and patience helped them set a new franchise playoff record with 19 3-pointers. Game 3, however, was more about Milwaukee’s efficiency on the offensive side, as they shot 56.1 percent from the floor and drilled 17 threes. Antetokounmpo, as you’d expect from the reigning MVP, was just flat out dominant, flirting with a triple-double with 35 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Already without several key players due to injuries, James Ennis III was ejected with 5:39 remaining in the second quarter after he and the Bucks’ Marvin Williams got into an altercation. They were jostling for rebound position when some shoving broke out. Williams was also ejected. Meanwhile, Aaron Gordon (hamstring) and Michael Carter-Williams (foot) remained out. The Magic hope that with a couple more days of rehabilitation and treatment that Gordon could be available for Game 4 on Monday. Carter-Williams, Clifford says, is a little further behind Gordon in his recuperation.
What the Magic did so well defensively in both of the first two games of this series got away from them in Game 3, as the Bucks, who thrive when they are able to play at a quicker pace, scored 14 fast break points. They had just 16 in the first two games combined. Even more crushing, though, were the turnovers, as Orlando committed 18 of them that led to 25 Milwaukee points. This is very atypical for the Magic, who were tied for first with the Dallas Mavericks in the regular season for fewest opponent points off turnovers allowed.
The Magic’s reserves, led by Terrence Ross and D.J. Augustin, were a big reason why Orlando won eight of its last 12 games before the hiatus. From Feb. 10 until the end of the seeding games, Orlando’s bench averaged 46.1 points, fourth most among all team benches. Augustin and Ross helped the Magic trim what at one point was a 34-point deficit in Game 3 down to 12 early in the fourth quarter. Ross got hot in the third period when he scored nine of his 20 points, while Augustin finished with a team-high 24 points, one shy of his playoff career high.
The Big Picture
If you knew going into Game 3 that the Magic would make 19 3-pointers, two of their reserves would combine to score 44 points and the Bucks would cough the ball up 19 times, you’d probably think the Magic either won the game or were within striking distance near the end. Orlando’s turnovers really hurt them in this contest, as did the Bucks’ own scorching 3-point shooting. The way the Magic played in the second half of Game 3 should give them some confidence as they prepare for Game 4, which will take place on Monday at 1:30 p.m. on FOX Sports Florida and NBA TV.
Quote of the Night
“We have to definitely turn it up and match their intensity next game. That’s the great thing about the playoffs. We’re still not out of this. We have a chance to come back and get a win and tie it up. We know we have to adjust and just do a better job.” - Augustin