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Basketball Daily Dose

Bucks Win NBA Title Behind Giannis’ 50 points

by Brad Stonebraker
Updated On: July 21, 2021, 10:38 am ET

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If Giannis Antetokoumpo wasn’t considered one of the greats of today’s game prior to Tuesday night, well, he sure is now. The Greek Freak brought the Milwaukee franchise their first NBA championship since 1971, a time when legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson were leading the way. Now, Giannis has undoubtedly cemented his status as a legend, and I fail to see a single person on this planet not happy for the 26-year-old, for who we clearly need to invent more superlatives. Let’s dive into a thrilling Game 6 that led to the Bucks earning the coveted Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Bucks 105, Suns 98 (MIL wins series 4-2)

Where to start with Mr. Antetokounmpo. His absolutely absurd stat line consisted of a playoff career-high 50 points on a 16-of-25 (64.0%) mark from the field and a (arguably more impressive) 17-of-19 mark from the free throw line, 14 rebounds, two assists, five blocks and one three-pointer for good measure in 42 minutes. After going down 2-0 in the Finals, the Bucks’ chances were not looking all too promising, but their game-by-game approach worked wonders as they won four straight from that point on to clinch the title. As for Giannis, he’s the second player in NBA history with three 40-point, 10-rebound performances (Games 2, 3 and 6) in a single NBA finals since Shaquille O’Neal way back in 2000, and he’s the very first player in Finals history with a 40/10 line with five blocks in a game since the NBA started recording blocks back in the 1973-1974 season. Keep in mind, all of these feats involve scoring at least 40, but Giannis one-upped that and decided to drop a 50-burger, the most in his playoffs career and just two points shy of his most ever. If I went all night about just how legendary of a performance this was, I still am not too confident I could do this man justice. With this outburst coming in a title-clinching game, it will go down as one of the most impressive Finals performances ever, and probably the frontrunner for the best title-clinching game maybe of all time. Oh, and Giannis unanimously won the NBA Finals MVP Award, and while people saying that Khris Middleton had a chance at it before tonight had some points, they may not have much to say right now. Giannis’ Finals averages came out to a maniacal 35.2 points on 61.1% from the field (who cares about his free throw percentage in this series with tonight’s showing), 13.2 rebounds, 5.0 dimes, 1.2 steals, 1.8 blocks and a modest 2.3 turnovers per game. Just unreal stuff from Giannis, and he, his brother and the entire Bucks team and organization have every reason to celebrate.

While Giannis didn’t appear to need much help, he couldn’t have done it without some of his teammates, with the second most important player on the floor tonight being none other than Bobby Portis. Portis had one of the more tumultuous playoff runs that we’ve seen from a bench player on a championship squad, including not getting a single minute in Games 5-7 of their seven-game series with Brooklyn, then shortly after filling the void left by Giannis’ knee injury in his 17.0 point average in Games 5 and 6 against the Hawks, and finally coming through in the most important game of his life on Tuesday with 16 points, two 3-pointers, and the most emotion that we’ve ever seen from him (which is saying something). Portis was the only sign of life for Milwaukee for a good part of the second quarter, keeping the Bucks’ hopes alive with some nice buckets and good defense. “NBA Champion, Bobby Portis” may never get old.

Khris Middleton was another Buck to join the roller coaster extravaganza, mixing up the good games with the bad, and while his Game 6 wasn’t extraordinary, I don’t think anyone will mind given the result. He finished second in scoring on the team (a far distant second, understandably so) with 17 points to go along with five rebounds, five assists and four steals in 41 minutes. He wasn’t even inefficient in this one, going 6-of-13 from the floor and sinking all four of his free throws, but with Giannis dominating like he was, he didn’t need to unleash another 20-point fourth quarter. Game 6 Jrue Holiday looked much more like Game 4 Jrue than Game 5 Jrue, having another disastrous 4-of-19 shooting night to finish up with a near triple-double of 12 points, nine rebounds, 11 assists and four steals in his 46 minutes. It’s no secret that Jrue’s shot was not falling this series with the exception of Game 5, but all in all, it simply did not matter. He was the best defender every night on a team with a guy that has won the Defensive Player of the Year Award, and without Jrue, the Suns’ guards would have had exponentially more success than they did throughout these Finals. And again, when all is said and done, no one will be looking back at Jrue missing shots, but rather his incredible defensive display that ultimately helped win his team a championship. Brook Lopez had a few minutes of greatness to finish with 10 points, eight boards and a steal in 27 minutes, and P.J. Tucker was predictably scoreless but had the best net rating on the team tonight at +13, so hats off to the Sneaker King.

While this one was all about the Bucks, the Suns get a lot of credit for being a part of one of the more competitive and entertaining Finals in recent years. You can’t help but feel bad for Chris Paul as this was the closest he’s ever been to a title, and one can only hope that this wasn’t his last chance as he’ll enter his 17th season come October. CP3 led the Suns with 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting, also chipping in two boards, five assists, one steal and one 3-pointer in 39 minutes. He had a pretty miserable Game 4 but looked far more like himself in Games 5 and 6, and there’s no question that he’ll come back hungrier than ever as long as he has some gas left in the tank. Devin Booker will be having nightmares about Jrue Holiday’s defense for some time, ending his season to the tune of 19 points on 8-of-22 shooting (0-of-7 on triples), adding on three rebounds, five assists and six turnovers in his 46 minutes. Some people are quick to forget that he is just 24 years of age and that we may not have even seen the best of him yet, and the amount of time left in his career to get a ring is plenty for someone with so much skill and poise. Jae Crowder was all over per usual with 15 points, 13 rebounds, four steals, one block and two triples, while Deandre Ayton battled foul trouble yet again in his 36 minutes to end with 12 points, six rebounds, one dime, two steals and two blocks. 

Now What?

The only negative part of this whole thing is the lack of NBA basketball for the next few months, but there is never a dull moment in this sport as we will have the 2021 draft in just over a week. On top of that, there is sure to be plenty of trade talk, some far-too-early fantasy sleepers, and the most immediate event to look forward to: Team USA participating in the Tokyo Olympics. Their first group-stage game will take place on July 25 against France, and if you’re like me and can’t live without basketball for more than a few minutes, this is sure to hit the spot. 

A final congratulations are in order for the Milwaukee Bucks, your 2020-2021 NBA Champions. They overcame plenty of odds, injuries and more throughout not just these playoffs but the regular season as well, and this particular set up guys only goes to show that hard work really, truly pays off. If anyone figures out a way to fast forward to October, please feel free to let me know. Otherwise, we all hope you enjoyed this silly season as much as we did, and so long for now. 

Brad Stonebraker

Brad has a finance degree and works in Business Management. He has been playing fantasy basketball since 2012 and specifically enjoys sports statistics and crunching numbers. You can find Brad on Twitter @bradbraker97.