First and foremost, huge congratulations to the entire organization of the Milwaukee Bucks for winning the 2021 National Basketball Association Finals even after going down 0-2 to the Phoenix Suns earlier in the series. The Bucks, despite telling injuries to key players late in the playoffs were still able to win the games that really mattered on their way to winning their second title in franchise history after 50 long years, their first delivered by a young beanpole by the name of Lew Alcindor, now more popularly known as Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
Huge chops go to the Bucks’ unquestioned leader and MVP, the Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo, for leading this team of misfits to the top of Mt. Olympus even when no one actually believed they can make it out alive after dropping the 2021 Finals’ first two games at the Talking Stick Resort Arena by an average of 11.5 points.
The same is true with the other members of the Bucks’ ‘Magic Three’ in All-Stars (and Team USA mainstays) Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, who were both so-so in the first two games of the series but stepped up big time in the last four matches to help the Bucks to eventually lift the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. The figures bear them out on this.
In the first two games of the series in Phoenix, Giannis scored 31 points, hauled 14.5 rebounds, and dished out 4 assists, although it resulted in two stinging losses. The rest of the series saw the Greek Freak improving his scoring with a significant 37.25 point average, highlighted by the 50 points he scattered in that title-clinching Game 6 at the Fiserv Forum. He also jacked up his assists numbers to 5.5 per game, although he slowed down in collecting caroms with ‘just’ 12.5.
It also appeared to do wonders for both Middleton and Holiday, whose scoring averages after that deflating 118-108 loss in Game 2 executed a virtual rebirth of sorts, at a time when the Suns are actually in the throes of taking full command of the 2021 NBA Finals.
Middleton had uninspiring (for their own tastes) averages of 20 pts, 6.5 rebs, and 6 asts while Holiday, brought there in December vice the lackluster Eric Bledsoe, had 13.5 markers, 6 caroms, and 8 dimes. The change of scenery, however, was everything that the doctor ordered for the Bucks’ marginal stars as the next four games, three at home, saw them showcasing their renewed improvement with averages of 26.5 points, 6.25 rebounds, and 5 assists on the part of Middleton, and 18.25ppg, 6.25rpg, and 10apg for Holiday. Between the three of them, that is easily 17 more points per game, explaining much of the 37 total points difference in the last four games of the Finals series.
Of course, that also should explain why after winning the series’ first two games, Phoenix suddenly conked out and lost the next four games on their way to a flameout.
In the first two games at Phoenix, the Suns’ own version of the Big 3—Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and DeAndre Ayton—appear to dominate their counterparts over at Milwaukee, with CP3 (27.5ppg, 4rpg, and 8.5apg), D-Book (29ppg, 3.5rpg, and 6apg) and Dominayton (16ppg, 15rpg, and 2apg) having their way against the Bucks.
But as soon as they landed at Milwaukee for Game 3, everything changed as the Suns’ Big 3 suddenly were a shell of their former selves. CP3 is no longer as lethal as before with just 19ppg, 2rpg, and 8 apg, all significant dips in his averages; D-Book was suddenly not as unstoppable by just averaging 27.75 ppg, 3.5rpg, and 3apg; and Dominayton no longer dominates with his 12ppg, 10.5rpg, and 1.75apg.
And the problem with the Suns is, unlike the Bucks who showed flashes of brilliance from man-mountain Brook Lopez, PJ Tucker, Pat Connaughton, and even Bobby Portis, they were left basically much on their own with bench guys Cam Johnson and Cameron Payne going eerily quiet for long stretches while veteran Jae Crowder and starter Mikal Bridges are just not enough to provide steady support on a nightly basis.
And as a result, the Bucks went on to win their second NBA championship trophy, Giannis his first with an NBA Finals MVP hardware to boot, and the city of Milwaukee gets to earn bragging rights until a new NBA champion is crowned sometime middle of 2022.