The Milwaukee Bucks are the new NBA Champions. Their 105-98 victory at the Fiserv Forum last night saw them eclipse the Phoenix Suns 4-2 to clinch their first NBA Championship since 1971.
And fittingly, 50 years after they last landed the title by a team led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, it was their current big man, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who played the pivotal role.
The Greek Freak scored a somewhat appropriate 50 points, along with 14 rebounds, five blocks and two assists to lead his team to victory and, deservedly, claim the Bill Russell Finals MVP award.
🗣️ Finals MVP.
🗣️ Giannis. pic.twitter.com/Y5qbnVi3SQ
— NBA (@NBA) July 21, 2021
Suns Second Quarter Comeback Silences Bucks Crowd
As has often been the case in this series, the game ebbed and flowed and it was the Bucks that made a fast start, securing a 13-point lead in the first quarter.
However, Bucks fans were soon hushed into silence as Chris Paul led the Suns to a superb second quarter comeback, as they scored 31 points to the Bucks 13 to take a five-point lead into the half time break.
However, after the break, the Greek Freak turned on the style, scoring 33 points in the final two quarters alone and he also hit the free throw that sealed the game with 9.8 seconds remaining.
After being off key from the free throw line in the playoffs, Giannis ended the series 17 from 19 from the foul line.
He also scored 20 points in the third quarter, the second time he landed 20 points in a quarter in the Finals, in doing so matching Michael Jordan as the only other player to do so.
Crucial Moment In Game 6
The crucial moment in the game came with under a minute left in the game as with the Suns trailing 102-96, Devin Booker missed an open look three-pointer, which eventually led to Khris Middleton hitting two vital free-throws with just 44.7 seconds remaining to hand the Bucks a 104-96 lead.
Middleton had scored a key jumper just a few seconds before that which had put Milwaukee into that six-point lead.
The Suns cut that down to 104-98 but they couldn’t get the ball back quickly enough and when Giannis sank the free throw to make it a three-score game with less than ten seconds to go, the Finals were effectively over.
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) July 21, 2021
All the Bucks team made telling contributions alongside Giannis, especially Bobby Portis who added 16 vital points from the bench, but this was very much the Greek Freak’s night.
Indeed, had the Bucks not made quite so many turnovers, 18 to the Suns 14, then they would have likely won this game by an even more comfortable margin.
“Believing In Me”
Speaking after the game, Antetokounmpo stated:
“I want to thank Milwaukee for believing in me. I want to thank my team-mates for playing hard with me.”
“I’m happy I was able to do it with this team for Milwaukee.”
Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer lavished praise on his star man.
“I’ve learned to much from him. He’s a special leader.”
“These players are champions every day. They’ve embraced getting better every day.”
With 17,000 fans inside the Fiserv Forum, but 65,000 outside the stadium watching on screens, celebrations across the city continued long into the night.
“Never Dealt With This Kind Of Hurt”
For the Suns, the wait for their first ever NBA title goes on and on the back of four successive losses to the Bucks, the defeat was hard for players and staff to take.
“I haven’t felt a hurt like this in my life. This isn’t something you want to feel,” said a desolate Devin Booker after the end of the game.
Coach Monty Williams, clearly very emotional after the game, bravely spoke to the press stating.
“It’s hard to process right now. It’s hard. That’s all.”
“I’ve never dealt with this kind of hurt as a head coach. There’s just a pain that goes with your season being over, but I’ve never dealt with this. I know this is going to hurt for a while.”
Booker though won’t be able to dwell on the defeat for too long as he along with Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton will soon be flying out to Japan to compete for the Team USA Basketball team at the Olympic Games.
For Antetokounmpo, he joins Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players in NBA history to claim regular season MVP, NBA Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards.
And he can now call himself and his Bucks team, NBA Champions.