Michael Tipton (Flickr)
After the Milwaukee Bucks ground out a win at Phoenix Suns Arena last Saturday night, it was plain to see that Phoenix would have to come up with a near perfect game to beat the Bucks on their home court Tuesday night and force a deciding Game 7.
The Suns were facing elimination and the end of a brilliant season – not to mention the team’s first playoff run in over a decade.
Suns fans probably hoped Tuesday’s game might be a repeat of Game 5, where the team leading after the first winds up losing their momentum and eventually the game.
However, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo simply wouldn’t let that happen.
Not surprisingly, Antetokounmpo dominated once again, scoring 50 points on 16-25 shooting – not to mention making 17 of 19 free throws. Giannis closed out his dominant Finals performance by winning the Bill Russel NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award, averaging 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5 assists per game.
Suns point guard Chris Paul tried to keep pace with 26 points on 11-19 shooting, however, the young Suns core just couldn’t give him enough help.
“They made timely shots – we didn’t. We didn’t get stops when we needed to. And they just beat us,” said Paul in his YouTube TV postgame interview.
Suns center Deandre Ayton couldn’t seem to get it going, scoring only 12 points on an irregular 4-12 shooting.
Phoenix showed their resilience by fighting back to tie the game at the end of the third quarter after finishing the first behind by 13.
The fourth quarter came down to who was going to perform when the pressure was on and the stakes were highest — that turned out to be Bucks shooting guard Khris Middleton (17 pts.) and Antetokounmpo.
“On the defensive end, I think we came up short” Phoenix shooting guard Jae Crowder said during his Youtube TV postgame press conference.
Suns Coach Monty Williams put the loss in perspective during his emotional YouTube TV postgame interview.
“I’m just thankful that God allowed me to be in this position. To be a head coach in the Finals – it hurts badly – but I’m also grateful that we had this chance to play for a championship,” Williams told reporters.
It is Milwaukee’s first NBA championship since 1971, when the team won the title in just their third year.