At this point, you almost have to feel bad for Giannis Antetokounmpo.
After hyperextending his knee in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, most of us assumed that he wouldn’t return in time to close out the series, let alone the NBA Finals.
“I haven’t watched the clip,” Antetokounmpo said. “But when the play happened, I thought I’m going to be out for a year, you know.”
Shit, so did we.
But because the Lord works in mysterious ways, the two-time NBA MVP experienced a miraculous recovery that’s not only baffled doctors and other players, but has allowed him to still play at an elite level. On Thursday night, he exploded for 20 points in the third quarter alone—the most in a Finals quarter since Michael Jordan brought 22 points worth of ruckus in Game 4 of the 1993 NBA Finals.
It’s just not enough when you’re facing a juggernaut like the Phoenix Suns.
Giannis’ 42-point, 12-rebound assault in Game 2 of the NBA Finals was valiant, but with teammates Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday shooting a combined 12-of-37 from the floor on the same night, the Milwaukee Bucks squandered one of the gutsiest performances of all time; falling short to the Suns 118-108.
Per usual, Devin Booker and Chris Paul abused the Bucks’ pick-and-roll defense and led the way with 31 points and 23 points respectively.
“It may be a surprise to others, but I expect those guys to lead the way, especially offensively for our team,” Phoenix forward Jae Crowder told reporters after the game. “That’s what we have been doing all year, and it’s no different now that we’re in the Finals.”
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer echoed those sentiments.
“Paul and Booker attract a lot of attention, and particularly in the first half I think they made us pay a little bit for that extra attention on them,” he said “[Mikal] Bridges hit some shots. Crowder hit some shots. They make 20 3s tonight. Then they made some tough ones, too.”
It also doesn’t hurt that coach Monty Williams is coaching his entire ass off.
Expect this trend to continue until the Suns finally put the Bucks out of their misery in Game 4.