Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Immortal Alley-Oop From Jrue Holiday In Game 5 of the 2021 NBA Finals Officially Destroyed the Phoenix Suns

Behind the brutal power of Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference in back-to-back seasons in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

The Greek Freak expanded his game, though, and Milwaukee was no longer satisfied with a one seed. They wanted to win the ‘chip.

And they did, again behind Antetokounmpo. But Giannis became a better one-on-one scorer and facilitator as the playoffs progressed.

But his overpowering physicality came back with a vengeance in Game 5 of the Finals against the Phoenix Suns as he threw down a vicious alley-oop from Jrue Holiday.

Milwaukee won its first title in half a century two nights later.

But it was the Holiday-to-Giannis connection that has been immortalized in Finals history. It destroyed the Suns and effectively ended the series.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had a playoff run for the ages on his way to winning the Bucks their first title in 50 years

Giannis Antetokounmpo effectively ended the Phoenix Suns NBA Finals chances when the Milwaukee Bucks star threw down an epic alley-oop.
Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks dunks against the Phoenix Suns during the second half of Game 5 of the NBA Finals. | Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Athens native averaged better than 35 points and 13 rebounds in six games against Phoenix. He shot 62% from the field and averaged nearly two blocks per game.

No other player in the series averaged more points, rebounds, or blocks, and no one was more efficient (except for Phoenix’s Frank Kaminsky, who took a total of nine shots over all six games).

It was an all-around dominant performance by The Greek Freak.

But there are two plays that define his series and Milwaukee’s championship.

In Game 4, Antetokounmpo left Deandre Ayton to prevent a Devin Booker drive. He then turned around and flew about five feet, stretched his long arm out, and blocked an Ayton attempt at the rim all in one fluid motion.

“It was one of the great recovery plays you’ll ever see,” Jeff Van Gundy said on the ESPN broadcast.

Then in Game 5, with Milwaukee leading 120-119 in the closing seconds, Holiday ripped the ball away from Booker.

But instead of dribbling time off the clock, Antetokounpo sprinted the length of the court, pointed into the air, and the two connected on an alley-oop that will live forever in NBA lore.

According to longtime Bucks’ play-by-play announcer Jim Paschke, that was the dagger in Milwaukee’s championship.

The lob and ensuing dunk “crushed” the Suns’ hope

Antetokounmpo was recently ranked as the 24th best player in NBA history by The Athletic.

Paschke described what he saw on the play and what Giannis did to Phoenix:

The NBA Finals, in my opinion, ended in Game 5 when (Jrue) Holiday stole the ball and Giannis pointed at the rim,” Paschke told The Athletic. “Listen, that’s Giannis with blinders on. Giannis, he feels the dagger in his hand and he points to the rim.

Because Holiday was going to dribble the clock like you normally would and be smart about it, and Giannis just said, ‘You know, I’m gonna crush these people right now.’ It was over right there.

Former Bucks TV announcer Jim Paschke on the epic Giannis-Jrue Holiday alley-oop

There was still a Game 6 to play. And that was nearly as legendary, as the Finals MVP posted 50 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks on 64% shooting and 17-of-19 from the free-throw line.

All this after a play in which Antetokounmpo’s knee gruesomely bent the wrong way, and he missed the final two games of the Eastern Conference Finals series against Atlanta.

It was an all-around, all-time performance encapsulated in one single play in which Giannis “crushed” the Suns.

Antetokounmpo’s goal now is to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to back-to-back NBA titles

The Bucks’ championship aspirations have gotten off to a rough start. A number of injuries have plagued Giannis and his team, including some to The Greek Freak himself.

But when he and Holiday play alongside Khris Middleton, the Bucks are 18-4 this season, showing that Milwaukee is still one of the league’s premier threats when at full strength.

It’s incredible to think there’s another level the 27-year-old could reach. But if Giannis Antetokounmpo can close out an NBA Finals the way he did last year and then lead the Milwaukee Bucks to another title this season, he’ll finish his career much higher than No. 24 when it’s all said and done.

Some more epic plays that will immortalize him forever wouldn’t be bad to watch, either.

All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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