Monday night the Milwaukee Bucks won game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns making them the first team since the 2006 Miami Heat to be down 0-2 in a Finals series and win 4 straight games to win the NBA Championship and 5th team in NBA history to win a NBA Finals series after being down 0-2. Milwaukee's superstars and role players stepped up big down the stretch of their Finals victories. Let’s analyze the key to the Bucks first championship in 50 years.
On July 11, 2021, Milwaukee headed home after dropping the first two games of the series on the road to Phoenix, losing both games by double digits. Heading into game 3, Devin Booker and Chris Paul both averaged over 27 points and 6 assists per contest and have won 3 straight games going back to their Western Conference Championship clincher against the Los Angeles Clippers. After a spectacular 42 point, 12 rebound performance by Giannis Antetokounmpo the Bucks found themselves down 0-2 for the second time this postseason. Game 3 was a must win game and Milwaukee showed a sense of urgency. Antetokounmpo added another historic performance to his already impressive resume, dropping 41 points, and grabbing 13 rebounds leading Milwaukee to a 20 point victory.
Game 4 was closer, but Milwaukee generated a sizable lead in the 4th quarter. Middleton and Antetokounmpo were responsible for 27 of Milwaukee’s 33 4th quarter points. Middleton finished with a playoff career high, 40 points leading Milwaukee to a series tying victory heading into game 5 in Phoenix.
Game 5 was the most entertaining game of the series. Series tied at 2, Milwaukee had to find a way to steal at least one road victory to win the series. Down by as much as 16, Milwaukee entered the 4th quarter up by 10. Phoenix cut Milwaukee’s lead down to 1 with less than a minute left in the game thanks to Booker's 11 4th quarter points. Phoenix had possession with 30 seconds left after Jrue Holiday missed a floating jump shot. Booker looked to give Phoenix the lead as he crossed the timeline. Booker’s weapon of choice was his lethal mid-range jumper (Smart choice as Booker has been shooting over 40%+ in the playoffs from mid-range up to this point). Booker drives left from the right wing on Milwaukee's defensive specialist, PJ Tucker. Booker attempts to get into his patent turnaround mid-range jumper. Holiday shows his defensive prowess by stealing the ball from Booker before he is able to get into his jumpshot. Holiday pushes the fast break off the steal with the shot clock unplugged, Antetokounmpo runs with Holiday as he gets in formation for the Game 5 dagger. Holiday throws an alley-oop to Antetokounmpo who slams down the alley-oop with two hands as he is fouled. Milwaukee winds up winning by 4 as Booker fails to convert his 3 point attempt to tie the game at 122. Milwaukee’s game 5 victory makes them 1 win away from becoming NBA Champions as they head back home for game 6.
Game 6 was Antetokounmpo’s best playoff performance of his career as he went off for 50 points, 14 rebounds, and 17-19 from the free throw line. Antetokounmpo had help as well as Milwaukee had 5 players score in double figures. In the 4th quarter Phoenix couldn’t get defensive stops as Milwaukee fed off their home crowd. Paul finished with 26 points on 11-19 shooting. Booker finished with 19 points on 8-22 shooting. Phoenix had a versatile scoring attack as well with 5 players scoring in double figures, but it wasn't enough to get them back to Phoenix for game 7. Antetokounmpo’s historic game 6 performance put the finishing touches on a great postseason run for the Milwaukee Bucks as he was named the NBA Finals MVP and the Bucks won their first title since 1971.