Milwaukee Bucks: 10 Initial Takeaways from Finals Clinching Win

Jul 20, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) celebrates with the NBA Finals MVP Trophy following the game against the Phoenix Suns following game six of the 2021 NBA Finals at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 20, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) celebrates with the NBA Finals MVP Trophy following the game against the Phoenix Suns following game six of the 2021 NBA Finals at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Somehow, someway, the Milwaukee Bucks, led by a historic performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo, are NBA Champions. With the Fiserv Forum rocking and an estimated 65,000 fans outside of the arena, Milwaukee was able to close out the series at home with a 105 to 98 win over Phoenix.

While admittedly, I am still soaking in this moment and will take time to really reflect upon the magnitude of this win and Antetokounmpo’s performance later on, for now, I have my 10 initial takeaways from Milwaukee’s series-clinching win.

Giannis was legendary

There never should have been to begin with, but moving forward, there shall be no more Giannis slander after the postseason and Finals performances that he put together. He then capped it off with a historic 50 point night.

Antetokounmpo dropped those 50 points while taking just 25 shots and making 16 of them to go along with an incredible performance at the free-throw line, where he hit 17 of his 19 attempts. Giannis would also add 14 rebounds, two assists, and five blocked shots. It was an all-around masterful performance.

Giannis at the free-throw line

Giannis’ ability to knock down his free throws was the difference between the Milwaukee Bucks winning and losing this game. During the regular season, he would knock down 68 percent of his attempts while in the playoffs that number fell to 59 percent.

Had he hit just 59 percent of his free throw attempts in Game 6, that’s eight fewer points for Milwaukee in what ended up being a seven-point victory. For Antetokounmpo to go from struggling at the line to all of a sudden making almost 90 percent of his 19 attempts is as clutch of a performance as you will see.

Jrue Holiday brings it defensively

That headline isn’t anything new. We already knew that night in and night out, Jrue Holiday is one of the best defenders in the game. But it’s that ability on the defensive end that still makes him an integral part of this team even when he is struggling offensively.

It was another rough shooting night for Holiday overall, as he went just 4-19 from the field, and he also had three turnovers. But defensively, he forced three steals and made life quite difficult for Devin Booker, who was just 8-22 shooting. Despite only scoring 12 points, the Bucks were still +12 with him on the court for 46 minutes.

The Milwaukee Bucks defense overall was impressive

For starters, they held the Suns to under 100 points while coming away with 11 more defensive rebounds and six total blocks. Phoenix shot just 24 percent from 3 while Chris Paul was their only player to score more than 20 points. Booker scored 19 while shooting 36 percent, and DeAndre Ayton scored 12 on 33 percent shooting.

It was the Bucks performance on the defensive end that allowed them to keep this game close early on, even though they weren’t hitting shots and were turning the ball over.

Bucks overcome a slow start

That last paragraph is as good of a segue as any to this topic, which is that the Milwaukee Bucks started off very slowly. You could definitely tell there were some nerves early on as the team struggled to hit shots, which included a few air balls, and were turnover prone.

Thanks to some rock solid defense and the Suns having similar issues, Milwaukee had a 13 point lead after one but would go on to score just 13 of their own points in the second quarter, which let Phoenix right back into it. Fortunately, in the second half, they were able to shake some of these nerves and sloppy play.

Khris Middleton hits some big shots again

With Giannis taking over and dropping 50 points, it was a quieter night offensively for Khris Middleton, who tallied 17 points while going 6-13 from the field. But as we’ve seen him do so often in the past, during crunch time, Middleton made the big shots.

With 4:35 to go in the game, Middleton would hit a 15 footer. Then with under a minute left, he knocked down a 17 footer to extend Milwaukee’s lead to six. He would also make two free throws in that final minute as well.

Bobby! Bobby! Bobby!

What else is there to say about Bobby Portis? He has provided this Milwaukee Bucks team with an energizing presence off the bench these playoffs and did so once again in Game 6. Portis finished the night 6-10 from the field, including 2-5 from deep, for 16 points along with three rebounds and a block. The Bucks were +6 with him on the court.

Bucks dominate the boards

As I alluded to above, this is another reason that Milwaukee was able to overcome their sluggish start and eventually put the game away. They simply dominated the boards, just as they had done during other games in this series.

When it was all said and done, the Milwaukee Bucks grabbed 53 rebounds, including 11 on the offensive end, while the Suns came away with only 37.

Pat Connaughton

As I wrote recently, Connaughton has provided the Milwaukee Bucks with a huge boost off the bench during these Finals. However, that was not the case — at least offensively— on Tuesday night.

Connaughton finished the game 0-4 shooting and -21 in the +/- column, but he did grab eight rebounds, including two on the offensive end, to help contribute.

Brook Lopez three key possessions in Q3

It was a relatively quiet night on the offensive end for Brook Lopez who finished 5-10 for 10 points over 27 minutes but there was a stretch of three possessions in the third quarter that Lopez scored on — including a big dunk — that gave Milwaukee the lead after trailing at halftime. From that moment on, the Bucks never trailed again. Lopez finished the game +9 when he was on the floor.

 Run it Back

PJ Tucker is a free agent, and Bobby Portis has a player option, both very well could be back, but even if they aren’t, this Championship-winning Milwaukee Bucks team from 2020-2021 will largely be the same next season. And if Tucker does re-sign and Portis picks up his option, this team will be nearly identical, giving them an excellent opportunity to repeat. But let’s not look ahead too far just yet and make sure we enjoy this one.