Milwaukee Bucks win NBA Championship

MILWAUKEE – Half a century ago, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – a young goliath then known as Lew Alcindor – led the Milwaukee Bucks to their first championship. For decades, that was the only time the franchise had reached this height.

It is until now.

On Tuesday night, the Bucks officially wrapped up their comeback to greatness. They are once again led by a monster with unique skills, this one, a 26-year-old Greek player nicknamed the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo. On his home turf, Milwaukee beat the Phoenix Suns, 105-98, in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to win his second championship and end a grueling NBA season of injuries and disruption from the coronavirus pandemic.

The championship marked a remarkable rise for Antetokounmpo, two-time winner of the league’s MVP award. He entered the NBA as a slim prospect, drafted outside of the Top 14 picks, a group known as the Lottery which is seen as a sign of impending stardom. He has since established himself as one of the best players in Bucks history.

Antetokounmpo won a championship in his eighth season, filling the last glaring hole in a resume that includes five All-Star caps and a Defensive Player of the Year award. The best stars are often judged by how many championship rings they own and how they’ve earned them. Antetokounmpo won his title with the franchise that drafted him, in an NBA era when the best players are often on the go.

In the previous two seasons, the Antetokounmpo Bucks finished the regular season with the best Eastern Conference record and were eliminated in the playoffs ahead of the final, raising questions as to whether Antetokounmpo could be the one to truly elevate. the team. Opponents exploited his below average shooting ability.

Going into this season, there were murmurs that he might leave the Bucks in free agency. Instead, Antetokounmpo put his bets on Milwaukee in December, signing a so-called super max expansion worth nearly a quarter of a billion dollars. He then delivered a dominant run in the playoffs, dispelling any doubts about his status as a superstar.

It helped Milwaukee play and trade for Jrue Holiday, a well-regarded all-rounder without the pedigree of perennial All-Star appearances. The Bucks sent a package to New Orleans usually reserved for a bona fide star, including several veterans and several draft picks. The bet was won: Holiday provided Antetokounmpo with invaluable help on both sides of the ball when the Bucks needed it most, especially with a 27-point performance and 13 assists in Game 5 on Saturday night.

This regular season, the Bucks finished third in the East, behind the Nets and Philadelphia 76ers. Milwaukee has been helped in part by the health of its major players, who have largely avoided serious injury and coronavirus infections. In March, the Bucks traded with Houston to acquire PJ Tucker, an experienced forward with a reputation as a tough defenseman and reliable shooter.

However, the Milwaukee playoffs have looked on the verge of collapsing on several occasions. Once again, coach Mike Budenholzer, in his third season with the Bucks, has come under scrutiny over his struggles to make adjustments against strong defenses or find more creative ways to use Antetokounmpo. And two-time All-Star Khris Middleton was once again faced with the question of whether he was a good enough assistant to Antetokounmpo, given his inconsistent playoff shot.

In the semifinals, the Bucks faced the Nets, led by trio of superstars Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden. Milwaukee lost the first two games of the series, including a 39-point blowout in Game 2. But the Nets were hampered by injuries to Irving and Harden, and Antetokounmpo put in his own performances to extend the series to seven. matches. In the last game, Durant’s jump shot at the end of the settlement came within an inch of the Bucks’ end of the season: his toe was on the 3-point line, so the shot didn’t. was worth a match equal to 2 points and not a winner of Game 3. Instead, with Antetokounmpo’s 40 points and 13 rebounds, the Bucks won the deciding overtime game in Brooklyn.

In Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Atlanta Hawks, with the series tied at two games apiece, Antetokounmpo awkwardly landed and fell to the ground holding his left knee, raising fears that he is not the latest in a series of NBA stars. running out of time because of a serious injury. With his return date uncertain, the Bucks relied on Holiday and Middleton to win Games 5 and 6 and send Milwaukee to their first NBA Final since 1974.

Antetokounmpo’s injury turned out to be just a hyperextension, allowing him to return for the championship round. In the final, the Suns won the first two home games, marking the third straight series in which the Bucks have faced a deficit. Antetokounmpo’s 41 points in Game 3 in Milwaukee helped turn the tide, as the Bucks won 120-100.

In Game 4, the Bucks came back 9 points in the fourth quarter and tied the series behind Middleton’s 40 points. But that game will be remembered for Antetokounmpo’s late-game block over Suns center Deandre Ayton, one of the most important defensive games in NBA Finals history.

With solid momentum in the back, the Bucks returned to Phoenix and put the Suns on the edge of Game 5, highlighted by an alley-oop to Holiday’s Antetokounmpo at the end of the game. Entering Game 6, Antetokounmpo averaged 32.2 points, 13 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game in the final.

Add a Comment