50 years on from their first championship, the Milwaukee Bucks are once again NBA Champions. The Bucks took care of business in Game 6 in front of a raucous crowd at Fiserv Forum. Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo put on a finals performance for the ages with 50 points, 14 rebounds & 5 blocks. The Greek Freak going 17/19 from the free-throw line (having shot just 59% from the line across the previous five finals games).
Antetokounmpo was named Finals MVP after averaging 35.1 points (on 61% shooting from the field), 13.1 rebounds & 5 assists across six finals games. The player was defiant as ever following his first NBA title.
Coming back, I was like, this is my city. They trust me. They believe in me. They believe in us. Obviously, I wanted to get the job done but that’s my stubborn side. It’s easy to go somewhere and go win a championship with somebody else. I could go…I could go to a superteam and just do my part and win a championship. But this is the hard way to do it and this is the way to do it, and we did it. F***ing did it.Giannis Antetokounmpo speaking to Yahoo Sport
The team failed to get beyond the conference finals after finishing with the best record in the East in back-to-back seasons. This season was seen by many as the final chance for coach Mike Budenholzer. He has answered his critics in the best way possible.
How Milwaukee became NBA Champions
The Bucks were stunned by the Miami Heat in the conference semi-finals of 2020. But, creating the perfect omen for this year’s postseason, they swept last year’s NBA Finalists in the first round. The Bucks then went on to take down the Brooklyn Nets and their superstar team including, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving & James Harden, in seven games.
Next up was the Atlanta Hawks in the conference finals. Atlanta had shocked the entire NBA by making it this far but wasn’t ready to roll over for Giannis and Milwaukee. The Hawks took Game 1 in Milwaukee before the Bucks took control, eventually winning the series in six games.
The team had their first Eastern Conference title since 1974, but they now faced the new-look Phoenix Suns. Phoenix had eliminated both LA teams & the Denver Nuggets on their way to NBA Finals. Things started badly once again for Milwaukee as they slumped to 0-2, just as they did against the Nets. But just like in the Brooklyn series, the Bucks home support re-invigorated the team’s belief. The team leveled up the series before heading back to Phoenix for Game 5.
Phoenix was confident heading back home, but the Bucks now had the bit between their teeth, and they would not let it go. Antetokounmpo (32 pts), Kris Middleton (29 pts) & Jrue Holiday (27 pts) led Milwaukee to the first road win of the series and presented the Bucks with the opportunity to win the title in front of their home crowd.
Game 6-Giannis’ coronation
Both teams started nervously on Tuesday night before Antetokounmpo took over. This was the Greek Freak’s moment, and he had no interest in letting it pass him by. Jrue Holiday once again struggled on offense, but his defense shut down Devin Booker. Antetokounmpo carried his team for most of the game, his 50 points equating for nearly half the Bucks total points. And after struggling all game, Kris Middleton showed why he is so valuable. With 56.9 seconds remaining, his pull-up jumper stretched Milwaukee’s lead to six and ultimately secured the win and the championship. The Bucks eventually winning 105-98.
Giannis signed a five-year, $228 million contract extension last December. The largest contract in NBA history. The Bucks committed to him, and he committed to the city of Milwaukee. Having promised back in 2014 that he would not leave Milwaukee until “they had built a championship-winning team.” And despite their worst regular-season finish since Mike Budenholzer took charge of the team, Giannis has come good on his promise!