The big question surrounding Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has quickly shifted from “Will he be available to play in the NBA Finals?” to “How are the Suns going to stop him?”
The two-time NBA MVP followed up a sensational Game 2 with another outstanding effort, totaling 41 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in Milwaukee’s 120-100 victory Sunday night. Antetokounmpo made 14 of his 23 field goal attempts, and perhaps even more impressively, he used up 13 of his 17 free throw attempts.
MORE: Best Highlights from Game 3 of the NBA Finals
“I’m trying to enjoy the game, trying to play, trying to put myself in a position to be successful. That’s what I’m trying to do,” Antetokounmpo said after Game 3. “You know, when I take each possession at once , when I have a possession in front of me, I try to put myself in a position, in a position to be successful. Sometimes it’s driving the ball. Sometimes it’s sealing on the line. Sometimes it’s setting up a screen. I’m just trying to read each possession at the same time, and each possession is different.
“I could say, okay, I’ll attack this guy this time, but for some reason that’s not working. So, I’m not trying to have a game plan or strategy in my head. I just want to enjoy the game. I just want to be there. outside, have fun and compete at a high level and read each possession at the same time, that each possession is different. “
That’s a simple explanation, but Antetokounmpo’s performance in this series has been truly historic. Just take a look at the numbers. . .
40 and 10
Antetokounmpo became the second player in NBA Finals history to add more than 40 points and more than 10 rebounds in consecutive games. The only other guy to hit those numbers? Shaquille O’Neal, who accomplished the feat in the 2000 NBA Finals.
One of the keys to Antetokounmpo’s scoring surge has been his free throw shot. Before Game 3, he was 55 percent of the line. In the last two contests, he has made 24 of his 35 attempts (68.6 percent).
Speaking of free throws, check out Shaq’s Game 2 line. Yes, that’s 39 free throw attempts, an NBA playoff record.
28 and 24
The Suns scored 40 points in the paint in Game 3. Antetokounmpo had 28 points in the paint for himself, including 24 points in the restricted area. In the last 25 seasons, just O’Neal and LeBron James have scored the most paint points in an NBA Finals game.
This shot chart really tells the whole story.
40, 10 and 5
Antetokounmpo was not only dominant in the scoring and rebounding departments, but also in creating for his teammates by dishing out six assists. Antetokounmpo is only the fourth player to reach the thresholds of 40 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in an NBA Finals game since 2000. That list includes O’Neal, James, Kevin Durant and Jimmy Butler.
“[Antetokounmpo is] a great playmaker, blocker, passer and does so many wonderful things, “said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer.” I think when he’s aware of doing a little bit of everything, he’s very capable and that’s when he’s at his best. “
Antetokounmpo has added 103 points in the NBA Finals, the fourth most points by a player in the final first three games of his career. He lands behind Rick Barry (122 in 1967), Allen Iverson (106 in 2001) and Willis Reed (104 in 1970).
Despite their best efforts, Barry and Iverson fell short in their pursuit of a championship in those series. Reed ended up winning the title with the Knicks, famous speaking for Game 7 despite dealing with a serious thigh injury.
Will Antetokounmpo capture a ring on his first trip to the NBA Finals? Or will the Suns find a way to make him look like a mere mortal?
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.