We should’ve seen a Suns Game 3 loss vs. the Bucks coming

Jul 12, 2021, 7:30 AM
Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, right, is fouled by Phoenix Suns' Jae Crowder, left, during...

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, right, is fouled by Phoenix Suns' Jae Crowder, left, during the second half of Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals, Sunday, July 11, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

(AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

For someone who spends as much time watching movies as I do, you would think I’d be better at calling the surprise ending.

Sixth Sense, Usual Suspects, Fight Club, Primal Fear, Arrival, The Prestige — when I watch these movies a second time, knowing what to look for, I curse myself for not seeing what was right in front of my face the whole time.

This was not the case for the Phoenix Suns and their 120-100 NBA Finals Game 3 loss against the Bucks. This wasn’t some M. Night Shyamalan-like plot twist. Really, it went exactly as planned.

There was an easy predictability about what happened to the Suns on Sunday. Nobody wants to admit it, of course, and certainly no one with the organization ever would. But at any point this weekend did you catch yourself thinking that if the Suns were going to lose a game, this would be the one?

First off, the Bucks were going to play better at home, particularly their second and third best options in Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday.

Second, when you’re down 2-0 and another loss means certain defeat, it evokes a certain desperation.

Talking about matching that desperation is easy. Actually matching it? The Suns could not.

And none of this addresses the most basic part of the equation. The Suns were not going to sweep the Bucks. Never were. I haven’t even brought up the whole Scott Foster thing, though to be honest I really don’t think Sunday was about him. But just the official’s mere presence in the game and his tortured history with Chris Paul suggested that whatever game he worked would be the game Phoenix would lose.

Most importantly, the Bucks are a really good basketball team featuring one of the five best basketball players on the planet. Teams like that with players like Giannis Antetokounmpo don’t just topple with the slightest of a push. They push back.

And boy did the Bucks push back. Fifty-four paint points. A 20-2 advantage in second-chance points. Regular as clock work.

As Dan Bickley pointed out in his column, we’ve seen this movie before. The Suns have lost five times in the postseason, and other than Game 3 vs. the Lakers, they’ve always found it within themselves to recalibrate: A second half beatdown in Game 4 vs. the Lakers, a grindy win against the Clippers in Game 4 and a laugher against the Clippers to wipe them out in Game 6.

“Suns in Four” looks great on a t-shirt, but it’s no way to eat in the NBA Finals. So as long as you knew that going in, you should be mostly alright with what happened on Sunday.

Now comes the hinge point for the series. If you believe, as I do, that the Suns are the better basketball team, they’ll leave Milwaukee with what they went there to steal; one of the two games. If they don’t? Now that’s a plot twist I didn’t see coming.

Penguin Air

Phoenix Suns

Los Angeles Lakers guard Dwayne Bacon (2) drives against Phoenix Suns forward Ish Wainright (12) du...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns’ reserves bounce back in preseason win vs. Lakers

After a rough showing in the preseason opener, the Phoenix Suns' bench had a much better night in Wednesday's 119-115 win over the Lakers.
1 day ago
Head coach Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns looks on during the first half against the Adelaide 3...
Kellan Olson

Suns’ Cam Johnson, Cam Payne each injure finger in preseason vs. Lakers

Phoenix Suns forward Cam Johnson and guard Cam Payne each injured a finger and didn't return to Wednesday's preseason matchup with the Lakers.
1 day ago
Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker (1) and Chris Paul (3) slap hands during the first half of an NBA presea...
Arizona Sports

2022-23 NBA GM survery shows love to Suns, but not for title hopes

GMs don't see the Phoenix Suns as a title contender but still believe in a strong regular season finish for 2022-23.
2 days ago
Adelaide 36ers' Antonius Cleveland (1) tips off against Phoenix Suns' Deandre Anton (22) during the...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns stressing ‘habit stamina’ throughout preseason

The Phoenix Suns will be focusing on building back up their habits during the next three preseason games before the regular season.
3 days ago
Owner Robert Sarver of the Phoenix Suns attends the NBA game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Pho...
Arizona Sports

Report: Robert Sarver selected bank to oversee sale of Suns, Mercury

Suspended Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver has selected the investment bank Moelis and Co. to "oversee the sale" of the franchises.
3 days ago
Head coach Monty Williams and Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half against t...
Arizona Sports

Suns’ Monty Williams doesn’t ‘need to air anything out’ with Deandre Ayton

Monty Williams on Tuesday addressed the comments by Deandre Ayton from a week prior that the two hadn't talked since the end of last season.
3 days ago
We should’ve seen a Suns Game 3 loss vs. the Bucks coming