After the Brooklyn Nets took the first two games of the series easily, the Milwaukee Bucks knew they had to do something to avoid a sweep. The Bucks turned to old-school defensive basketball in Thursday’s Game 3 to narrowly escape with a 86-83 win. Milwaukee is now fully back in the series.

The first quarter of the game was all Milwaukee, who came into the game on a mission. The Bucks ended the first quarter with a 30-11 lead, but the roles would reverse in the second quarter. In the second quarter, it was Brooklyn that did all the scoring, and it was the Bucks who were unable to score. The Nets outscored Milwaukee 31-15 in the second quarter alone. They trailed 45-41 at halftime.

The second half was nothing but a display of old-school basketball. It was reminiscent of the 90s basketball era, then there was more of a focus on the defensive side of the ball.

Bucks guard Jrue Holiday emphasized that defense is the key to win games.

“Defense first,” Holiday said. “Defense wins games, and it wins championships. I think to be able to get a stop even down with two seconds left means a lot. Them scoring 83 points, I feel like for us that’s the type of defense we want to play.”

Bucks forward P.J. Tucker played a big role in the team’s defense. Tucker spent the night guarding Kevin Durant aggressively. Durant scored 30 points, but was inefficient, converting only 11 of 28 field goals. Fellow Nets star Kyrie Irving finished with 22 points. He also struggled from the field, sinking just 29% of his attempts.

“Shoot, man, they did what they were supposed to do: Come out aggressive, backs against the wall, and we had to weather that storm,” said Irving. “So, definitely kind of put us on our heels for the rest of the game just playing catch-up, playing their style of basketball, and then they made some big timely shots, which carried them forward. “But we had our chances down the stretch. It was a possession-by-possession game. Both teams battling. So that’s a good ol’ fashioned playoff game right there.”

All-Star duo Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton led the Bucks in scoring. Antetokounmpo had 35 points and Middleton had 33 points. Holiday was the third-leading scorer on the team with nine points, but it was his bucket in the final seconds of the game that gave the Bucks the lead for good.

Both of the team’s offenses stalled throughout the second half. In the fourth quarter, the Bucks led 67-65. The game was close down the stretch, and Bruce Brown attempted to play hero for the Nets in the final second. With an opportunity to win the game, Brown drove to the basket for a floater but missed. It was a questionable play since he had the chance to pass the ball to either Durant or Irving.

Nevertheless, the Bucks squeaked out an 86-83 win over Brooklyn to stay alive and prevent a 3-0 deficit. Milwaukee has a chance to equalize the series on Sunday.

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