Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has guided the Milwaukee Bucks to the brink of securing its first NBA title in five decades. Antetokounmpo continues to be the Bucks’ driving force behind the deep playoff run. As Milwaukee closes in on a championship, it puts the two-time league MVP on track to reach Kobe Bryant’s final challenge to him.
Giannis Antetokounmpo sits a win away from leading the Bucks to an NBA title
After falling to a 2-0 series deficit in the NBA Finals, the Bucks responded with three straight wins.
Milwaukee capped it off by earning the series first road victory behind a strong collective effort. The Bucks overcame a first-quarter 16-point deficit by outscoring the Suns 79-53 over the second and third quarter by making 32 of 45 shots.
Phoenix struggled to keep pace with Milwaukee through much of the second half before making a late push in the fourth quarter. Chris Paul cut the deficit to one point with 56 seconds left in regulation, but Jrue Holiday’s steal leading to an alley-oop pass and dunk from Antetokounmpo sealed the win.
The Bucks’ impressive road showing was fueled by a balanced offensive performance from its three stars. Antetokounmpo, Holiday, and Khris Middleton each scored at least 25 points on 50% or better shooting from the floor.
The decisive win pushes Milwaukee to a win shy of earning its first NBA title in five decades. It also moves Antetokounmpo on the brink of reaching the final challenge Bryant set for him.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is on the verge of meeting Kobe Bryant’s final challenge to him
Before the 2017-18 season, the former Lakers great took to social media to issue individual challenges to several NBA stars.
Antetokounmpo threw his name into the hat by asking Kobe Bryant for a personalized goal to which he told the Bucks All-Star to earn a regular-season MVP award. Not only did he accomplish that lofty challenge, but he won the award twice.
After Antetokounmpo won his first of two MVP awards, Bryant issued the task of winning an NBA title.
“My man…M.V.P. Greatness,” Bryant wrote. “Next up: Championship. #MambaMentality.”
A little over two years after receiving that challenge, Antetokounmpo sits one win away from securing his first NBA title. The journey toward the 2021 championship has featured several obstacles for the Bucks.
After sweeping the Miami Heat in the first round, the Bucks overcame a 2-0 series deficit against the Brooklyn Nets to return to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Milwaukee captured an NBA Finals berth despite Antetokounmpo missing Game 5 and Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals due to a hyperextended left knee. Since then, he’s played in every game against the Suns, where he’s been a game-changing factor.
All that’s guided him to potentially earn his first championship, with the biggest game of his NBA career ahead.
Milwaukee holds an opportunity to close out the Suns in Game 6
Antetokounmpo is preparing for the biggest game of his NBA career.
The 26-year-old has stepped up his game, averaging 32.2 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 5.6 assists on 60.5% shooting from the floor. He’s scored at least 20 points in each contest while topping 40 points twice and recording four double-doubles.
The Bucks won’t have an easy challenge as the Suns hold the opportunity to bring the series back to Phoenix for an all-or-nothing Game 7. Devin Booker continues to torch Milwaukee, averaging 30.0 points, including a pair of 40-point performances in Game 4 and Game 5. Meanwhile, Paul will have all hands on deck with his first NBA title hanging in the balance.
It all sets the table for what will be an intense Game 6 on Tuesday night.