On June 1, the Milwaukee Bucks played their first game in franchise history against the Boston Celtics (the team’s first game in franchise history was on May 15, 1968, against the Detroit Pistons in Detroit). The Bucks were in no way expected to stand a chance against the Celtics, who were hosting an NBA Finals rematch. Despite the fact that the Bucks were the lowest-seeded team in the Eastern Conference playoffs, they had played well enough to eliminate the Toronto Raptors in the first round and the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round, and many expected them to begin the series against the Celtics with the same grit.
Gaveth left some fans with a lot of questions after scoring a game- and career-high 43 points in the Milwaukee Bucks’ Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. With the Bucks down 82-77 with just over four minutes to go, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 15 points in a row to take the lead, but the result of the game was never in doubt after he was ejected with 2:44 left in the fourth quarter.
It’s not easy to carry your entire team on your back when you have a knee injury, but Giannis Antokounmpo did it Sunday night and led the Milwaukee Bucks to a much-needed victory over the Phoenix Suns in Game 3 of the 2021 NBA Finals.
But Antitokounmpo not only led his team back into the series, the two-time NBA MVP also joined an exclusive club of NBA Finals players.
Giannis Antokounmpo scored 41 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Bucks to a 20-point victory in Game 3 of the NBA Finals
When Antetokounmpo injured his left knee in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, his season seemed to be over. But after missing the Bucks’ last two games against the Hawks, the five-time NBA All-Star came back and was in fine form in Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals against the Suns. And he was just great.
Sure, he was a bit of the underdog early in the series, but in the last two games Giannis has clearly resumed his role as the Bucks’ leader and done his best to keep Milwaukee in the series. Despite limited minutes in the first game, he scored 20 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in a 118-105 loss against the Bucks. In Game 2, with Middleton and Jrue Holiday in foul trouble, he scored 42 points and 12 boards in a 118-108 loss.
Antetokounmpo was dominant again Sunday night in his return to the field in Game 3. He made 14-of-23 from the field and 13-of-17 from the free throw line, scored 41 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and handed out six assists in the Bucks’ 120-100 win. Holiday had 21 points and nine assists, while Middleton finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Giannis Antetokounmpo during the Milwaukee Bucks’ 120-100 victory over the Phoenix Suns in Game 3 of the 2021 NBA Finals | Justin Casterline/Getty Images
With his performance in Game 3 on Sunday night, Antitokounmpo became the 12th player to make the team’s all-time scoring list. Player in NBA Finals history who scored 40 points multiple times. He joins this impressive list of names:
- Jerry West: 10
- LeBron James: 8
- Michael Jordan: 6
- Shaquille O’Neal: 5
- Elgin Baylor: 4
- Rick Barry: 3
- Kyrie Irving: 2
- Dwayne Wade: 2
- John Havlicek: 2
- Bob Pettit: 2
- George Meekan: 2
- Giannis Antetokounmpo: 2
Of those 12 players, Giannis is one of six who scored 40 or more points in consecutive games, along with West, James, Jordan, Shaq and Barry. After 103 points in the first three games of the NBA Finals, Antetokounmpo is now fourth on this list, behind Barry (122), Allen Iverson (106) and Willis Reed (104).
Antitokounmpo not only ranked in the top four in total points scored in the first three games of the NBA Finals, but he also became the only player in NBA Finals history to score 100 or more points and grab 40 or more rebounds in the first three games. Giannis scored 103 points and 42 rebounds against the Suns, and Reed had 104 points and 48 rebounds in the first three games of the 1970 Finals against the Lakers.
Antitokounmpo has also joined another exclusive club: He and Shaq are the only two players in NBA Finals history to score at least 40 points and grab 10 rebounds in consecutive games.
Now we have to wait and see which clubs Giannis can join next. Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Finals between the Bucks and Suns takes place Wednesday night at 8 p.m. in Milwaukee. ABC Eastern Channel.
Statistics provided by Basketball Reference
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