Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered a historic 50-point performance when it mattered most in leading the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA title since 1971 by defeating the Phoenix Suns 105-98 on Tuesday.
The Milwaukee Bucks won the best-of-seven NBA Finals by a score of four games to two, becoming only the fifth club in history to do so after losing the first two games of the series.
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Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 50 points, becoming only the sixth player in finals history to do so, while also grabbing 14 rebounds and blocking five shots as the Bucks went a league-best 10-1 at home in the playoffs to snap a five-decade championship drought.
“I want to express my gratitude to Milwaukee for placing their trust in me. “I want to express my gratitude to my teammates for their efforts on my behalf,” Antetokounmpo added. “I’m grateful that I was able to complete the task.”
The 26-year-old Greek forward tied the record for the most points scored in a finals game in history, set by Bob Pettit’s 50-point performance for the St. Louis Hawks against the Boston Celtics in 1958.
“He threw us to the ground. Khris Middleton, a Bucks guard, remarked that when they needed him, he just told them to feed him. “It’s an incredible experience to be on this trip with him.”
In addition, the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, who had been questionable for the opener due to a hyperextended knee, joined Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to win the NBA Finals MVP and NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season. Antetokounmpo has also won the NBA Finals MVP and NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards twice.
“He’s a one-of-a-kind human being. I’ve gained so much knowledge from him. “He’s a tremendous leader,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said of his player. “These players are champs on a daily basis. They have accepted the fact that they are growing better every day.”
With 65,000 people watching on TV screens outside the sold-out 20,000-seat arena, the extended “Deer District” party zone provided the jubilation that the fans had thought they would have.
“I’m grateful that I was able to do it with this squad for Milwaukee,” Antetokounmpo said of his accomplishment. In addition, Coach Bud believes it is necessary to repeat the process.
When the Phoenix Suns attempted to win their first championship in their 53-year history, they were denied. Phoenix guard Chris Paul, who is 36 years old and playing in his first NBA Finals in 16 years, led the Suns in scoring with 26 points.
“It’s a real pain. Monty Williams, the coach of the Phoenix Suns, stated the team played poorly. “However, I am grateful that we were given the opportunity to compete for a championship. During the fourth quarter, it became quite clear that we were simply unable to score enough points. We just couldn’t make the transition.”
Antetokounmpo scored 12 of his 20 points in the third quarter, part of a 16-8 Bucks rally that gave Milwaukee a 58-55 lead with 4:34 left in the first half of the second half.
He became the first player in the finals since Jordan to have a 20-point quarter, and the game dangled on the verge of being decided in the fourth quarter, when it was tied at 77-77.
When the Suns sliced into the Bucks’ advantage in the fourth quarter, Antetokounmpo drove to the basket on numerous occasions, scoring eight points in a 10-6 Milwaukee run for a 94-88 lead midway through the period.
– ‘We didn’t get stops’ –
With 1:14 left in the game, Phoenix’s Jae Crowder made two free throws to draw the Suns within 100-96, but Middleton countered with a jumper and two more throws to give Milwaukee an eight-point advantage.
After Paul missed a 3-point attempt, Middleton snatched the rebound and Bucks supporters erupted in applause.
“They made timely shots, whereas we didn’t,” Paul explained the situation. The fact that we didn’t obtain stops when we needed them resulted in them beating us.
Middleton scored 17 points to the Bucks’ total, while Bobby Portis contributed 16 points off the bench and Jrue Holiday contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Devin Booker scored 19 points to the Suns’ total, while Crowder contributed 15 points and 13 rebounds in the victory.
As a result of the game-six referee crew head Scott Foster officiating, St. Paul went to 0-13 in postseason games. Foster has been a target of Paul’s ire in previous appearances.
The winning run included Milwaukee’s victory over the Phoenix Suns in game three of the NBA Finals, in which Antetokounmpo made 17 free throws to the Suns’ 16.
With their free throw shooting, the Suns went 16-of-19, matching Antetokounmpo’s total, while the Bucks shot 25-of-29 in the final game of the season.
“It was the same old routine, pretty much every game, the free throws,” Paul reflected on the situation. “Do you understand what I’m saying? ”
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