After being tested by Hawks in semifinals, Bucks win NBA title

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) hugs coach Mike Budenholzer after defeating the Phoenix Suns. Budenholzer is a former Hawks head coach. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Caption
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) hugs coach Mike Budenholzer after defeating the Phoenix Suns. Budenholzer is a former Hawks head coach. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Credit: Paul Sancya

Credit: Paul Sancya

Giannis Antetokounmpo ended one of the greatest NBA Finals performances ever with 50 points and a championship Milwaukee waited 50 years to win again.

Antetokounmpo had 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots as the Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns 105-98 in Game 6 on Tuesday night in Milwaukee to win the series 4-2.

The Bucks also beat the Hawks 4-2 in the Eastern Conference finals, winning Game 6 118-107 on July 3. Antetokounmpo missed the last two games of that series due to a knee injury.

The Bucks are coached by former Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer.

Antetokounmpo shot 16 for 25 from the field Tuesday and made an unbelievable 17-of-19 free throws — a spectacular performance for any shooter, let alone one who was hitting just 55.6% in the postseason and was ridiculed for it at times.

It was the third game this series with at least 40 points and 10 rebounds for Antetokounmpo, a dominant, debut finals performance that takes its place among some of the game’s greatest.

He hopped around the court waving his arms with 20 seconds remaining to encourage fans to cheer, but it was way too late for that.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) reacts during the second half of Game 6 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns in Milwaukee, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) reacts during the second half of Game 6 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns in Milwaukee, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Their voices had been booming inside and outside for hours by then, having waited 50 years to celebrate a winner after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson led the Bucks to the championship in 1971.

In a season played played largely without fans, the Bucks had 65,000 of them packed into the Deer District outside, a wild party that figured to last deep into the Midwestern night.

Confetti rained down inside as fans chanted “Bucks in 6! Bucks in 6!” — what began as a hopeful boast by former player turning out to be a prophetic rallying cry.

The Bucks became the fifth team to win the NBA Finals after trailing 2-0 and the first to do it by winning the next four games since Miami against Dallas in 2006.

Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez (11) reacts after a slam dunk in front of Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) and forward Jae Crowder (99) during the second half of Game 6 of basketball's NBA Finals Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)
Caption
Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez (11) reacts after a slam dunk in front of Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) and forward Jae Crowder (99) during the second half of Game 6 of basketball's NBA Finals Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Chris Paul scored 26 points to end his first NBA Finals appearance in his 16th season. Devin Booker added 19 points but shot just 8 for 22 and missed all seven 3-pointers after scoring 40 points in each of the last two games.

The teams that came into the NBA together as expansion clubs in 1968 delivered a fine finals, with the last three games all in the balance deep into the fourth quarter.

The Bucks won them largely because of Antetokounmpo, a two-time MVP in the regular season who raised his game even higher in the finals and was voted the NBA Finals MVP.