NBA Finals Game 2 reaction: Suns take commanding lead, but hope remains for Bucks

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives to the basket against the Phoenix Suns during game two of the 2021 NBA Finals at Phoenix Suns Arena.
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Andrew Ortenberg

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I'm an editor here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up.

Two NBA Finals games in the books, two double-digit wins for the Phoenix Suns. The Milwaukee Bucks now find themselves in an 0-2 hole as they head back home for Game 3. Their backs are up against the wall, but all hope is not lost quite yet.

Phoenix has clearly been the better team in this series so far. Full stop. And their performance on Thursday night was downright impressive. That being said, there are a few small reasons for optimism if you’re a Bucks fan dreaming of a comeback. Let’s break down what we just saw and what it means going forward:

The Suns were built for this stage

We had the over and the Suns -5.5, so it was a good night here at Pickswise. With the Suns up 2-0, the series price is now -500/+400.

When the finals began, it was fair to wonder if the moment would be too big for the Suns. After all, they’ve got a lot of young guys, and this was Devin Booker’s first playoff run, let alone finals run. Following Game 2, it’s no longer fair to wonder.

Chris Paul had never played in the finals before this week, but you wouldn’t have guessed that by watching him play. Paul has been simply phenomenal, and he chipped in another 23 points on 50 percent shooting in Game 2. Booker dropped 31 while making seven threes.

The role players haven’t been fazed either, and Mikal Bridges erupted for 27 points on Thursday. They dominated the second quarter and controlled the game from then on. They aren’t just making shots they’re also playing tight defense, holding everyone besides Giannis Antetokounmpo in check.

Unfortunately for the Bucks, Antetokounmpo can’t do it by himself. The Suns appear to be well on their way to a championship, and given how they’ve looked under the bright lights, there’s no real reason to expect them to struggle in a road environment. This clearly isn’t a team that lacks for confidence.

The Bucks still have life

It won’t feel like it if you’re paying attention to the media this week, but the Bucks aren’t dead yet. Many an obituary will be written in the days leading up to Game 3, but they’ll be premature. This series isn’t over yet, and there are some silver linings to dig into for Milwaukee.

For starters, the fact that they kept Game 2 so close is pretty encouraging when you look at the box score. The Suns shot 20/40 from beyond the arc while Milwaukee shot 29 percent, and it was still a six-point game with just over four minutes left.

Bridges likely isn’t going to be a 27-points-per-game guy moving forward, and that’s putting it kindly. Booker has been shooting pretty poorly from deep in the playoffs, so his 7/12 outburst on Thursday was something of an anomaly.

Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton were both awful offensively, and the game was still very close. If the Suns come back down to earth from three and Milwaukee’s co-stars step it up just a bit, things suddenly look pretty favorable for the Bucks as they return home.

Also working in the Bucks’ favor is that they’ve been in similar situations before. This team has proved to be a resilient bunch, such as when they battled back from a 3-2 deficit against the Nets. Or when they rebounded from dropping Game 1 at home against the Hawks. Don’t bury them just yet.

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