The tides have turned on the Phoenix Suns.
They began the NBA Finals with an early commanding lead in the series.
The Suns defended their home floor in Games 1 and 2, winning both games by final scores of 118-105 and 118-108.
However, they have lost all of their momentum and now find themselves down three games to two going into a crucial Game 6 in Milwaukee.
With their backs against the wall and their season on the line, there are three things that the Suns must do to tie the series up.
3. Slow Down Milwaukee’s Three-Headed Snake
The Milwaukee Bucks have only three players on their roster that have the ability to step up and take over games.
All three have had big contributions in their series comeback.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton are the 5th trio in NBA Finals history to each record 25 points on 50% shooting in a game. They are the first to do this since James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson in 1985. pic.twitter.com/vkUbKQxkOd
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 18, 2021
In the three consecutive games the Bucks have won, the three stars have combined for 70.17 percent of the team’s total points.
Also, Middleton and Holiday have only both had a single game in which they scored fewer than 20 points.
Middleton has averaged 29 points, Holiday has averaged 20.33 points, and Antetokounmpo has averaged 33 points per game through this three-game stretch.
There needs to be a clear emphasis on slowing down these three players.
If none of them get the opportunity to take over a game, the Bucks will simply roll over and hand the series to the Suns.
This will be a very tall task for the Suns.
The only way they can do this is to stop dribble penetration and post touches for Antetokounmpo along with crashing the defensive glass.
Doing this will limit the chances of kick out three point attempts along with second chance baskets.
2. Have Chris Paul Play To His Potential
Chris Paul was living up to the “Point God” nickname he has earned throughout his career through this magical playoff run for the Suns.
However, he has become much more sloppy than usual since the Finals began.
Assist to turnover ratio since game 3
Chris Paul: 27:10
Who’s the real point god now? pic.twitter.com/8jfz0Pz9nU
— Ethan (@Ethan44094318) July 19, 2021
Through the Finals, Paul has averaged 3.6 turnovers per game.
This is the higher than his regular season average (2.2), or his turnovers per game in the first (1.5), second (1.3), or third round (2.0).
This play has gone as far as costing his team a game.
In Game 4, a Paul turnover was the finishing blow that gave the Bucks a victory.
In the next game, Devin Booker would have a game-sealing turnover of his own.
Paul has begun to bounce back and become more reliable with the ball.
In Game 5, Paul only had one turnover.
This must once again become the norm for him if the Suns want to bounce back.
They cannot afford to lose possessions due to one of the best point guards of all time being reckless with the ball.
1. Crash The Defensive Glass
As previously mentioned, the Suns must do a better job of crashing the defensive glass.
In every game of the series, the Bucks have had a higher offensive rebounding percentage than the Suns.
This is something that is unacceptable.
It allows for the Bucks to get easy second-chance buckets at the hoop or gives them the ability to kick the ball out to wide open shooters on the three-point line.
With most of the games in this series coming down to the last seconds, every possessions counts.
Giving the Bucks multiple chances on a possession can make the difference between coming home as NBA champions and being just short of winning it all.