For the first time in half a century, the Milwaukee Bucks are NBA Champions.
The Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns 105-98 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to secure the second NBA championship in franchise history. They were led by none other than Giannis Antetokounmpo, who recorded the first 50-point NBA Finals closeout game since Bob Pettit in 1958. The two-time MVP also added 14 rebounds and four blocks in the historic performance and was unstoppable from the free throw line, sinking 17 of 19 shots from the line.
Khris Middleton added 17 points, five assists and four steals in the win, Jrue Holiday secured 12 points and 11 assists and Bobby Portis had an excellent showing off the bench, contributing the only 16 points Milwaukee got from its second unit. The Bucks dominated the glass as well, out rebounding the Suns 53-37.
After the Suns went up 2-0 after the first two games in Phoenix, the Bucks rattled off four straight wins, becoming only the fifth team in NBA history to come back from being down 0-2 and win the title.
Antetokounmpo took home the Finals MVP honors, as he carried the Bucks for a majority of the series. He had three games scoring at least 40 points, including the series clincher and passed Michael Jordan’s mark for most points scored in a Game 6 or 7 of the NBA Finals. He joins Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to win MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and Finals MVP.
The Bucks got out to a fast start in Game 6, building a 29-16 lead after the first quarter. However, the Suns flipped the script in the second quarter, outscoring the Bucks 31-13 in the quarter and taking a 47-42 lead into the half.
After both offenses were smothered in the first half, each came alive on both sides in the third. Milwaukee scored 35 points in the third, as the Suns battled back, scoring 30 of their own to tie the game at 77. However, nothing could stop Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. Milwaukee got out to a lead in the fourth quarter and despite the Suns clawing to keep it close, the Bucks never gave it up in the final quarter, and closed out with a 105-98 win.
For the Suns, Devin Booker managed just 19 points, with Chris Paul dropping 24 points in the loss. Jae Crowder had 15 points and 12 rebounds.
En route to the championship, the Bucks made quick work of the Miami Heat with a first round sweep. After that, it was far from easy. Milwaukee came back from down 3-2 in the series against the Brooklyn Nets in the second round, coming out victorious in a 115-11 OT thriller in Game 7.
In the Eastern Conference finals, the Bucks took on the Atlanta Hawks. Both teams dealt with injuries to their star players, as Antetokounmpo and Trae Young both missed multiple games during the series. Despite not having their star, the Bucks’ depth pushed the Hawks to elimination and defeated Atlanta in six games.
In the NBA Finals, the Suns could not have looked better in the first two games. The trio of Paul, Booker and Deandre Ayton were clicking on all cylinders. Antetokounmpo did not look like his normal self in Game 1, coming back from a knee injury suffered in the Atlanta series. However, once the series went back to Deer District, the Bucks took control, limiting Booker to just 10 points in Game 3. Despite Booker’s 42 points in Game 4, Milwaukee held Paul and Ayton to a combined 16 points.
Game 5 was a dogfight, with the Bucks coming back down from 16 points in the middle frames to take a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter. A 25-12 run closed the gap to just one point, but an alley-oop from Holiday to Antetokounmpo sealed the 123-119 victory for the Bucks.
And in Game 6, like he had not just this season, but most of his career, Antetokounmpo put the team on his back and delivered a historic performance to bring the championship trophy home to Milwaukee.
Phoenix’s run comes to an end after a sensational season that saw them reach the postseason the first time since 2007. After finishing second in the Western Conference, the Suns defeated LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round in six games, swept the Denver Nuggets and then took down the Los Angeles Clippers in six games in the Western Conference Finals.
The Suns will continue to search for their first title in franchise’s history. For Milwaukee, the Game 6 victory snaps a 50-year drought in what could be the first of many championships for the Bucks and Antetokounmpo