It’s been a dull 50 years for the city of Milwaukee, and what couldn’t be more suiting, a 50 point game from Antetokounmpo to win this organization their second championship.
We’re all quite aware of the mind-boggling stats Giannis put up last night and the multiple records he’s broke, so let’s get right into the other elements that had a factor in this contest. First up, defense. Without a valid center to put in while Ayton sits out (given Saric’s injury), the Suns were at a large disadvantage in size to match up against Giannis. Without another big man, there’s no constant and reliable way to stop him.
Another major contributor to the Suns’ defeat was their lack to counter the fastbreak and rebound at like times. As I previously stated, the Bucks are one of the best transitional basketball teams in the league, and Giannis is one of the best transitional players. With Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, and Giannis all running the fastbreak, there’s not much the defense can do. Phoenix limited Milwaukee to 11 fastbreak points, not a great number, but identical to their own output. However, the Bucks were able to outrebound the Suns 53/37. This was the ultimate turning point of the game. Phoenix would be fresh off of a prominent defensive stand all to allow Pat Connaughton, Giannis, or P.J. Tucker to parachute in and snag the offensive rebound. This not only converted 14 second-chance points (to Phoenix’s 5), it shifted momentum towards Milwaukee in hopes to commence a run.
Bobby Portis, just Bobby Portis. Bucks fans love him, non-Bucks fans (like myself) love him. It’s difficult to root against someone that wanders about with the energy and passion that he does, and the fact that he has the skill to go with that is an incredible lift to the team. Portis shot 60% from the field and 40% from three in addition to knocking down all three of his free throws. There was a point amidst the second half where Milwaukee starters were struggling to hit shots. The two-time COTY in Budenholzer makes the appropriate decision and inserts Portis into the game. He proceeded to score 16 points and his six points in the fourth quarter provided momentum to thrust this squad past the Suns.
Finally, let’s all give Mike Budenzholzer the recognition he deserves. In two consecutive seasons, he made mistakes. Mistakes happen, but when you make them as a coach, it is significantly more noticeable and affects your appearance towards coaching the team towards a championship. The Bucks won ten fewer games than they did during the 2019-20 season and 14 fewer games less than their 2018-19 campaign. This is because Budenholzer utilized the season to experiment with offensive and (mostly) defensive schemes. Doing so aided their fight towards the championship as they were ready for just about any offense and defense they faced. Budenholzer was not afraid to make adjustments because his team practiced those changes and have played games utilizing them. The Bucks were prepared, and that was evident as they escaped victors in their first championship in 50 years.