For the first time in half a century, the Milwaukee Bucks have won the NBA Finals. On Tuesday night in Wisconsin, the Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns 105-98 to win game six of the best-out-of-seven series. In the process, the Bucks beat the Suns four games to two.
A major catalyst for the Bucks throughout the NBA Playoffs was their star power forward, Giannis Antetokounmpo, of Athens, Greece. The player well known as the Greek Freak was an absolute force in the paint all season long, and led all players in the postseason with 12.8 total rebounds per game. In the 2021 NBA Playoffs, Antetokounmpo also averaged 30.2 points per game, 5.1 assists per game, and a field goal percentage of .569.
Then in the championship game on Tuesday, Antetokounmpo had a game for the ages. He had 50 points in the seven-point Bucks victory. The only other player to score 50 points in a NBA Finals series-clinching game was Bob Petit of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who reached the half-century mark in total points on April 12, 1958, for the St. Louis Hawks in a 110-109 win over the Boston Celtics.
In addition to the 50 points, Antetokounmpo was a beast when it came to defense as well. He added 14 rebounds, (of which 10 were defensive rebounds and four were offensive rebounds), five blocks and was a +10 when it came to points for and against.
The key part of Antetokounmpo’s success in game six was his free throw shooting. At times throughout the NBA Playoffs, he was significantly below average. When the season mattered most, Antetokounmpo looked like a slick-shooting Steve Nash rather than Shaquille O’Neal. Of the 19 free throws he attempted, he made 17 of them, for a spectacular free throw percentage of .895.
Anteokounmpo also became only the third non-American born player to be named the NBA Finals MVP. He joins Tony Parker of Paris, France, who received the honour with the San Antonio Spurs in 2007, and Dirk Nowitzki of Wurzburg, Germany, who received the honour with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011.