Giannis Antetokounmpo is making most of first career trip to NBA Finals

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 08: (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 08: (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

It was only a week-and-a-half ago where all thought Giannis Antetokounmpo wouldn’t play another game this season, much less do so in this tear’s NBA Finals.

That skepticism was certainly extended to the Milwaukee Bucks as a whole in the aftermath of Antetokounmpo’s horrifying knee injury, but Milwaukee kept calm and weathered the storm to book their first trip to the Finals in 47 years without Antetokounmpo.

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Now, the Bucks’ return to the promiseland hasn’t gone according to plan, yet Antetokounmpo, having improbably returned to the court at the start of this series, is looking to make the most of his first career trip to the Finals.

Antetokounmpo did all he could to keep the Bucks within it throughout their 118-108 Game 2 loss to the Suns as the two-time MVP finished with 42 points on 15-of-22 shooting (1-for-5 from three, 11-for-18 from the foul line), 12 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a steal in just over 40 minutes of run.

Unsurprisingly, that’s the most points scored by a Bucks player in an NBA Finals game, per StatMuse. Oh, and all of that has come while Antetokounmpo is functionally playing on one healthy leg.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is seizing upon his first trip to the NBA Finals

While Antetokounmpo is clearly playing in pain and doing his best to play his way in spite of the circumstances, he surely wasn’t slowed by it as he put in a historic performance.  22 of Antetokounmpo’s 42 points came in the paint and he was 9-for-10 when scoring in the restricted area, per

We all are aware of the relentless pressure that Antetokounmpo puts on opposing defenses towards the rim and that hasn’t changed so far this series. The 26-year-old has been every bit as explosive as we’ve seen from him before and after his injury.

Where Antetokounmpo supplemented his terrific offensive performance and paint scoring was putting his back to the basket and sinking a few turnaround jumpers, which has long been a key for his scoring development. Just watch how Antetokounmpo fluidly get off this turnaround fadeaway over Suns center Deandre Ayton.

And while the bulk of Antetokounmpo’s misses came when he was settling for attempts from beyond the arc, he still went 8-for-17 on jump shots (47.1 percent) throughout the night. That means Antetokounmpo went 7-for-12 on jump shots attempted within the arc.

So far this series, the Bucks have been boosted by Antetokounmpo’s presence on the court. The bigger problem has obviously come down to the Bucks not having the requisite performances from the likes of Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, to say the least.

The fact that the Bucks are outscoring the Suns by four points in Antetokounmpo’s 75 minutes this series and have been outscored by 27 points in the 21 minutes Antetokounmpo has been on the bench is quite the damning situation.

At this point, there is no bigger hurdle facing the Bucks and their quest to win a championship than needing the likes of Holiday and Middleton getting into any sort of groove that’s needed to fight back in this series.

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The Bucks are getting more out of Antetokounmpo simply by playing, much less playing at his MVP-caliber standard. As a result, Antetokounmpo is putting on a show in his first trip to the Finals while the rest of the Bucks are falling behind.