The Milwaukee Bucks won the franchise’s first NBA championship in 50 years with a 105-98 win over the visiting Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.
Exactly three weeks after suffering a knee injury that appeared to put his role in the Finals in doubt, Giannis Antetokounmpo carried Milwaukee to their first championship in half a century.
With the victory, the Bucks clinched the NBA Finals 4-2 and became only the fifth team to win the best-of-seven championship series after losing the first two games.
The ‘Greek Freak’ delivered arguably the best performance of his career at the best possible moment and now can add an NBA Finals MVP award to his two regular-season MVP trophies. Just as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led Milwaukee to their first championship in 1971, the 6ft 11in Antetokounmpo made sure a big man also carried the Bucks to their next title.
Antetokounmpo was an easy choice for the Bill Russell Finals MVP award after collecting 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks. He had at least 40 points and 10 rebounds in three of the six games in this series.
Giannis scored 33 in the second half alone, including his 50th point on a game-sealing free throw with 9.8 seconds remaining. Surprisingly, after struggling with his free throw shooting throughout the playoffs, he ended 17 of 19 from the foul line to eliminate the Suns.
The 26-year-old averaged 35.2 points and 13.2 rebounds across the Finals against Phoenix.
Chris Paul had 26 points and five assists for the Suns, who dropped four games in a row after taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Phoenix’s Devin Booker missed an open look from three-point range on the right-wing and Khris Middleton made two free throws with 44.7 seconds left to give the Bucks a 104-96 advantage.
On the previous possession, moving to his right from the top of the key, Middleton took a handoff from Antetokounmpo at full stride, rose up and knocked down a clutch jumper with 56.9 seconds left, putting Milwaukee up 102-96. That was the answer to a pair of Jae Crowder free throws at the 1:14 mark.
Booker’s run-out and contested layup put the Suns within 100-94, and Middleton committed the Bucks’ 19th turnover of the game at the other end to hush the home crowd.
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