And just like that, it’s over. What started out as a highly competitive NBA Finals — and a 2-0 advantage for the championship-starved Phoenix Suns — ended last night in a runaway victory for Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. The 2021 NBA season is over, and the last ‘Cat standing fell just short of glory. Let’s talk about it.
Booker, Suns eliminated by dominant Giannis
A week and a half ago, the BBNBA crew got together and laid out predictions for the remainder of the Finals with the Suns leading two games to none. In hindsight, we couldn’t have been much more wrong. None of us saw this Bucks comeback coming, and my pick of Suns in six was actually the most conservative of the group. At least I got the number right? But in fairness, Phoenix had looked downright dominant up until that point. Then Giannis got angry and everything changed.
After Staurday’s Game 5 shootout, expectations were high for last night’s Game 6 in Milwaukee. Neither team was quite as efficient in this one, but the result was the same. While the Suns took the lead at halftime and hung around for most of the fourth quarter, the momentum was entirely in Milwaukee’s court, and they pulled away in the final minute to win 105-98. Giannis finished with an incredible line of 50 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks and — get this — 17 of 19 from the free throw line. The MVP put in the work, and it was rewarded with a Finals performance unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
Giannis EXPLODES for 33 of his 50 points in the 2nd half of Game 6, fueling the @Bucks Taco Bell Comeback en route to their first NBA Championship in 50 years!
17-19 FTM pic.twitter.com/qDbk0nHWeb
— NBA (@NBA) July 21, 2021
On the other side, Devin Booker was unable to replicate his Game 5 success. He scored just 19 points, shooting 8-22 and missing all seven attempts from outside. When he needed it most, his stroke abandoned him. Still, it was a historic run for DBook in his first-ever playoff run. By the time the dust settled, his 28.2 points per game against Milwaukee were the second most by a UK player in the Finals ever, behind Cliff Hagan’s 29.4 against the Celtics in 1961.
Devin Booker first career playoffs:
— 27.3 PPG
— 5.6 RPG
— 4.5 APG
— 4 40-point games
— Back-to-back 40p in Finals
Keep your head up Book. pic.twitter.com/bwQP8a4WBc
— StatMuse (@statmuse) July 21, 2021
Without a doubt, Book will be back. Whether he does so with Chris Paul is another question. After shining in the first two games, Paul largely disappeared down the stretch of the Finals. He played a little better in Game 6 with 26 points to lead Phoenix, but it wasn’t nearly enough. The 36-year-old point guard has a player option to return to the Suns next year, which means it’s entirely up to him.
The Bucks championship was the franchise’s first in 50 years, since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led the way in 1971. It marked the end of an incredible journey for Giannis, who earned series MVP after becoming the sixth player in NBA history to score 40+ points three times in one Finals. At 26 years old, the Greek superstar already has an MIP, two MVPs, a championship and Finals MVP on his resume.
How did he celebrate? By going to Chick-fil-A and ordering 50-piece McNuggets, of course. How else?
Giannis immediately went to Chick-fil-A to order 50-piece nuggets ?? pic.twitter.com/VDkTv0AwAY
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) July 21, 2021
Try as you might, it is scientifically impossible to hate that man.
Other first-time title winners on the Bucks include… well, the whole team. Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez, P.J. Tucker, Jeff Teague, Bobby Portis, and Louisville’s Jordan Nwora all took champagne baths last night. But it was Giannis’ moment, and he earned every bit of it. Maybe this will finally teach us to stop making predictions…
Until next year, BBN. It’s been fun!