The Milwaukee Bucks need “Game 3 Khris Middleton” to show up tonight

Jun 27, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 27, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks will square off against the Phoenix Suns will square off in a crucial Game 3 of the NBA Finals tonight at Fiserv Forum.

Losing both games in Phoenix, the importance of winning this game is front and center for the Bucks. No team has ever come back in the NBA Playoffs from being down 0-3 in a series, and as they look to regroup and keep their Finals dreams alive on their home floor, one player that will be under heavy surveillance is Khris Middleton.

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Middleton has had a rough start to this series and has been on the receiving end of harsh criticism for his contributions, scoring 29 points in Game 1 on 26 shot attempts and tallying just 11 points in Game 2 on 16 attempts.

The Bucks will need more from their second-leading scorer to get back into this series, and his track record of Game 3s this postseason suggests good things might be afoot.

Khris Middleton has been excellent in Game 3s during this playoff run with the Milwaukee Bucks

Middleton’s first Game 3 this postseason came against the Miami Heat in the first round, and it was hit quietest outing among the bunch. However, the Bucks were in full control throughout, and the forward got to take an early breather as his team would cruise to a comfortable 29 point win on the road. Still, in his 34 minutes played, Middleton tallied 22 points on 50 percent shooting while dishing out five assists to cap off a solid outing.

Game 3 against the Brooklyn Nets in the East-Semis was a far different situation. The Bucks were down 0-2 to the Nets after dropping the first two games in Brooklyn, where Middleton had simply been playing awful basketball. However, playing back home at Fiserv Forum seemingly triggered something as he caught fire in that matchup by scoring 35 points on 12-of-25 shooting while also hauling in 15 rebounds. There was no stopping the forward as his heroic performance helped the Bucks take a gusty win and become their comeback in the series.

Most recently came his effort in the Eastern Conference Finals versus the Atlanta Hawks, where he similarly struggled throughout the first two games, despite being on his home floor. With the series knotted at 1-1 and the Bucks looking to steal a game on the road, Middleton’s shooting woes continued until the fourth quarter, where he exploded for 20 points in the period, outscoring the entire Atlanta roster and leading Milwaukee to a massive win. He would finish with a fantastic line of 38 points on 15-of-26 shooting from the floor, including an impressive 6-of-12 from deep while hauling in 11 rebounds and handing out seven assists.

All in all, Middleton has averaged 31.6 points on 51.9 percent field goal shooting and 44.4 percent 3-point shooting in Game 3s these playoffs. Not only has he improved his scoring and efficiency marginally, but he is impacting the game elsewhere by tallying 11.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in the same timeframe. It is safe to say that the Bucks could use numbers like that in tonight’s pivotal Game 3 matchup with the Suns. Playing in front of that rowdy home crowd should help rejuvenate Middleton, and this team will need him at his best to make this series competitive.

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All eyes will be locked on Middleton to see whether or not he can once again turn the tide with his play in a crucial Game 3 tonight.