Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks defeat Phoenix Suns to win NBA championship

Greek 26-year-old leads Bucks to first NBA Finals win in 50 years

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo holds with the championship trophy after defeating the Phoenix Suns.
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Giannis Antetokounmpo has led the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA championship in 50 years with a 105-98 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

The Bucks lost the first two of their best-of-seven series but took the next four games to seal the title in front of their own fans on Tuesday.

Two-time MVP Antetokounmpo scored 50 points and posted 14 rebounds to lead the Bucks to their second championship, following their victory in 1971.

The achievement saw the Greek 26-year-old become just the seventh player to score 50 points in an NBA finals game.

Antetokounmpo also had five crucial blocks in the game played in front of 17,000 fans at Fiserv Forum, while Chris Paul top scored for the Suns with 26 points.

The Bucks needed every one of their star forward’s points after the Suns came back from an early deficit to lead 49-42 at halftime.

Antetokounmpo went hard in the second half, scoring 32 points and going 16-for-17 from the foul line as he continually charged at the rim en route to victory.

"I'm so blessed to work with Giannis every day," Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said during an on-court interview.

"He's a special human being, he's an even more amazing human being than he is a player. I've learned so much from him and his leadership."

Phoenix overcame a slow start to the game and led by as many as seven points early in the third quarter but could not contain Antetokounmpo down the stretch.

Suns guard Chris Paul had a team-high 26 points.

For Phoenix, who were seeking their first championship in the team's 53-year existence, the defeat marked the first time all season they have lost four consecutive games.

Unlike last year's NBA Finals when the celebratory screams of the Los Angeles Lakers echoed across an arena void of fans due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bucks' win kicked off a wild party for both a capacity crowd of 17,000 inside and the 65,000 supporters who attended a watch party outside the arena.

Shaky start

Both teams got off to a shaky start that saw poor shooting on both ends of the court and plenty of turnovers but Milwaukee, powered by Antetokounmpo, led 29-16 after the first quarter.

Phoenix, facing elimination for the first time in the 2021 playoffs, shook off their lowest-scoring first quarter of the postseason as they turned up the defense while Chris Paul led the offense as the Suns took a 47-42 lead into the half.

The Suns opened up a seven-point lead early in the third quarter but the Bucks responded with a 16-6 run that put them back in front. From there the teams went back and forth and took a 77-77 tied into the final quarter.

But Milwaukee never trailed the rest of the way and it was Antetokounmpo who took over on the offensive end to deny the Suns' a chance to host a decisive seventh game.

Updated: July 21, 2021, 4:51 AM