After a long and grueling nine-month NBA season filled with health and safety protocols and injuries, we have finally crowned an NBA Champion! The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns in Game Six of the NBA Finals on Tuesday to win the franchise’s first championship in 50 years.
In what turned out to be the final game of the 2020-21 NBA season, the Bucks and Suns came out with everything on the line. If the Suns won, they would force a pivotal Game Seven back in Phoenix. But if the Bucks prevailed, which they ended up doing, they would hoist up the Larry O’Brien trophy in victory. The Bucks won 105-98 in a hard-fought, gritty, and at times very sloppy, game that came down to the last few minutes.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Bucks, put on one of the best NBA Finals performances the world has ever seen, with a staggering 50-point game, along with 14 rebounds and a mind-blowing five blocks. After the game was over, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver unsurprisingly awarded Giannis with the honor of Finals MVP after his incredible performance all series long. What was even more incredible was that he looked unstoppable at the free throw line, going 17-19 after shooting abysmally from the line all postseason.
Khris Middleton and Bobby Portis played supporting roles exceptionally in this game, scoring 17 and 16 points, respectively. Portis’ energy and defensive intensity was a difference maker for Milwaukee. Middleton and Jrue Holiday each had four steals, adding to an amazing game on the defensive end for the Bucks to clinch their championship.
The Suns struggled mightily offensively in this game, largely due to the pressure on defense from the Bucks. Devin Booker went 0-7 from three, missing even a few wide-open looks that could have brought the game closer. He finished the game with 19 points, which while not bad, was not enough to make a full-fledged comeback. His biggest issue was his turnover rate, turning the ball over six times. Chris Paul tried to keep them in it, pouring in 26 points on 11-19 shooting, but it wasn’t enough. Deandre Ayton, who has been excellent in the paint all postseason long, was only 4-12 from the field, with most of the shots being close to the basket. It seemed that the Suns knew how much was on the line in this game, and the nerves affected them detrimentally.
After the game, the team was awarded the trophy and Giannis was named the Finals MVP. The Suns walked off the floor in disappointment, but their season, despite falling just short, was a remarkable one, especially for a team that few predicted to make the type of run they made.
After the win, Antetokounmpo spoke to the media with his trophies in hand about signing a max extension in Milwaukee this year and fighting to win a championship the right way, saying, “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. It’s easy. … I could go to a super team 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.”