The NBA Finals are in full swing as three games have occurred thus far.
This series between the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks is now 2-1 with the Suns in the lead.
Each NBA Finals gives a bit of surprises.
We have seen great performances from players we do not expect.
There are times where star players shrink in the big moments.
Then we see emerging stars take their place in the league.
This series is no different with surprises.
Through three games, a lot has happened between the two teams.
The Bucks just took Game 3 in convincing fashion.
Before we look at how Game 4 is going to go, it is best to take a glance at the three biggest surprises so far in this series.
3. The Emergence of Deandre Ayton
Deandre Ayton was the first pick in the draft just three ago.
Nobody believed that he was a bust, but he was not on their level.
While he still might not be on their level; he has become a really good player in the league.
Game 1 of the Finals was an excellent performance from Ayton.
He was able to accomplish something that only three other great centers were ever able to do.
Players with 20+ PTS, 15+ REB, 80+ FG% in a Finals game in the shot clock era (since 1955):
Deandre Ayton pic.twitter.com/r6ARRXeanx
— StatMuse (@statmuse) July 7, 2021
Ayton had a decent Game 2, but had a phenomenal first quarter in Game 3.
— Basketball Reference (@bball_ref) July 12, 2021
The former first overall pick has proven that he was a great selection.
He is perhaps the biggest key on how they can beat the Bucks.
Defending Giannis Antetokounmpo is such a difficult task, but Ayton has been able to defend him better than anyone else.
His emergence is one of the biggest surprises thus far.
2. Jrue Holiday Turns Into Eric Bledsoe
This past offseason was very important for the Bucks and their future outlook.
Eric Bledsoe was their guard on the last two playoff teams, but was a disappointment both times.
The world knew that the Bucks needed to upgrade that spot in order to win a title.
That is what they did by trading for Jrue Holiday.
The price was very steep, but it needed to be done.
Holiday is the superior player.
During the NBA Finals, you have not been able to tell the difference.
Eric Bledsoe playoff shooting splits with the Bucks:
— 41.1 FG%
— 25.4 3P%
— 73.2 FT%
Jrue Holiday playoff shooting splits with the Bucks:
— 41.1 FG%
— 28.9 3P%
— 67.3 FT% pic.twitter.com/1PRn67M4k2
— StatMuse (@statmuse) July 9, 2021
Holiday is continuously struggling to find his rhythm this series.
The trade was supposed to help at a time like this, but it has been dud for the first three games.
1. Giannis Looks Healthy
Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals looked like the end of the Bucks’ title hopes.
Antetokounmpo jumped to contest a shot and came down awkwardly.
The replay looked as if he might have torn something in his knee.
We were all stunned.
Then we got the great news that it was only a hyperextension of the knee.
Great news, but the expectation was for him to be out for a couple of weeks.
However, Antetokounmpo decided he was going to play in the Finals.
That injury has had zero impact on his ability during this series.
He has looked like a Shaquille O’Neal type of player throughout these first three games of the series.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been on a TEAR since returning from his gruesome-looking knee hyperextension. 😤
62.5% FG pic.twitter.com/PS3rrquF1N
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) July 12, 2021
The Suns have had hardly any answer for him.
The Bucks are down in the series, but not due to Antetokounmpo’s play on the court.
We were surprised to see him back soon; and even more surprised to see him be this dominant.