With Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Finals tipping off tonight the series is at an inflection point. A win for the Phoenix Suns would mean an almost insurmountable 3-1 lead with Game 5 being played in Arizona. A victory for the Milwaukee Bucks would make for their second in a row, a tied series, and a best of three contest for the NBA title.
Every game in an NBA Finals is important, but tonight’s Game 4 will carry extra significance for whichever squad is able to claw out a win. Below, we will break down what Phoenix and Milwaukee will have to do tonight in order to be successful in a critical Game 4 matchup.
After a sluggish Game 1 performance in which he only scored 20 points, Giannis antetokounmpo has returned to form. In both Game 2’s loss and Game 3’s win the two time MVP accrued over 40 points and 10 rebounds. This is only the second time a player has put up 40 and 10 in consecutive Finals games. The other player being Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal. Everyone in the building knows Giannis’s skillset. Get the ball and drive hard to the rim. Even still, the Suns have had no answer for the Grecian. If they don’t get one before tonight’s tip off, they will likely see a series tied at 2-2.
Milwaukee was able to pull off two key wins against the Atlanta Falcons without the Greek Freak in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, those Bucks who stepped in while their superstar was out have yet to step up in this series. In fact, only one player besides Giannis have scored over 20 points in the last two games, and no one else has contributed a double-double in any of the three matchups. This Finals series has been reminiscent of Lebron James’ first with Cleveland in 2007. A series in which the Cavaliers’ next highest scorers were Drew Gooden, Daniel Gibson, and Aleksander Pavlovic. Milwaukee plays fantastic team and individual defense, but they need more points from multiple sources on the offensive end.
Normally a consistent point scorer, the 22 year old had his worst performance this playoffs and one of his worst performances of the season. The Shooting Guard finished the game 3-14 from the floor and 1-3 on 3-pointers he attempted. This is no doubt an aberration from Booker who has been averaging over 25 points on the season and 26.3 during his 19 playoffs games this season. Even still, you worry that at such a young age and with limited playoff experience Devin Booker could struggle in a hostile environment like Milwaukee. He will need to stay aggressive, and attempt closer to his average of 20 shots per game to try and establish a rhythm.
Booker’s lackluster performance in game 3 might have been the most glaring reason why Phoenix was handed the loss, but it is in no way the only reason. Multiple factors ended up being just too much for the Suns to overcome. Jae Crowder shot 6-7 from beyond the arc, but every other Sun went a combined 3-24. Phoenix has been a weak rebounding team all season ranking 23rd in the league. In Game 3 that was no different and Milwaukee had a 47-36 advantage on rebounds overall, and 13-6 lead in offensive boards. Lastly, Deandre Ayton was limited due to early foul trouble and they missed his physical presence inside. Phoenix will need to improve on all of these areas if a critical Game 4 win is in the cards for them.