The Milwaukee Bucks are NBA champions for the first time in 50 years.
Milwaukee defeated the Phoenix Suns 105-98 in Tuesday's Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Finals at Fiserv Forum to clinch its first title since the 1970-71 campaign. Giannis Antetokounmpo was unstoppable during a legendary performance and led the way for the victors, who won four consecutive games after dropping the first two on the road.
The story was Antetokounmpo, who cemented his name alongside some of the all-time greats with a showing that will never be forgotten in Milwaukee.
A solid outing from Chris Paul was not enough for the Suns, who have lost all three of their NBA Finals appearances.
Notable Player Stats
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, MIL: 50 PTS, 14 REB, 5 BLK, 17-of-19 FT
- Khris Middleton, F, MIL: 17 PTS, 5 REB, 5 AST, 4 STL
- Jrue Holiday, G, MIL: 12 PTS, 11 AST, 9 REB, 4 STL
- Chris Paul, G, PHO: 26 PTS, 5 AST
- Devin Booker, G, PHO: 19 PTS, 5 AST, 3 REB
Giannis Brings Home Championship With All-Time Performance
The Larry O'Brien Trophy was in the building Tuesday and, with it, the chance at basketball immortality for Antetokounmpo.
Giannis had the opportunity to join none other than Michael Jordan as the only players in league history to build a resume that includes a Finals MVP, NBA MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and All-Star Game MVP, and he wasted no time spinning his way into the lane, controlling the glass and swatting shots as Milwaukee built a double-digit lead in the first quarter.
There would be no blowout from the start, though, as Milwaukee's offense stopped getting to the rim and suddenly became stagnant on the way to 13 second-quarter points.
While Jrue Holiday excelled on defense, he was a brutal 1-of-11 from the field in the first half. Khris Middleton also picked up a third foul, and it became a game of getting bailed out by Antetokounmpo or bust for extended stretches.
Brook Lopez provided some help with a monster slam and multiple shots in the lane, but Giannis put on an absolute clinic in the third quarter. He shifted into takeover mode and poured in 20 points in the third alone with an array of drives, pull-up jumpers and uncharacteristically solid free-throw shooting.
His individual brilliance put the Bucks on the doorstep of a championship with the game tied entering the fourth quarter, and Bobby Portis kept a raucous crowd engaged while turning into the second option for much of the second half.
It was all about Antetokounmpo, though, as he racked up the blocks on defense and overpowered everyone the Suns threw at him on the other side with Shaq-like dominance. He was also cold-blooded on the free-throw line as he overcame his previous struggles that were such a major storyline throughout the playoffs.
It was an iconic effort from a player who is well on his way to an all-time career.
Suns Stars Can't Keep Pace With Giannis
For as dire as the situation seemed for the Suns entering play after three straight losses, they were just one win away from forcing a Game 7 at home and had a red-hot Devin Booker coming off two straight 40-point performances.
From dire to optimistic was the story of the first half for the visitors, as they scored a mere 16 points in the first quarter and had no answer for Holiday's perimeter defense and Milwaukee's combination of physicality and length in the frontcourt.
However, things dramatically changed in the second quarter as Phoenix turned a 13-point deficit into a five-point lead at intermission. Much of the turnaround could be attributed to the Suns' renewed efforts on the defensive side, but Paul also methodically worked his way to midrange spots and took advantage of screens to get more favorable matchups.
Throw in Cameron Payne providing an immediate spark off the bench, and Phoenix was in control even with an early quiet showing from Booker and initial struggles from Deandre Ayton.
That control didn't last through Antetokounmpo's onslaught in the third quarter, although the game was still tied entering the final quarter in large part because Booker woke up. He started finding his scoring touch on the offensive end even with hounding defense from Holiday and P.J. Tucker and gave his team a chance to win in the fourth.
The Suns got timely contributions from Jae Crowder and Frank Kaminsky, but the game was going to come down to whether their stars could match Giannis in crunch time.
They simply couldn't, as Ayton and Booker shot a combined 12-of-34 (35.3 percent) from the field with the latter turning it over six times. The team as a whole managed just 21 points in the fourth quarter and simply couldn't keep pace with the two-time MVP on the other side.