Giannis Antetokounmpo is playing through a hyperextended knee in the 2021 NBA Finals. There was real doubt that he would even be able to play in the early portion of this series as he was initially listed as doubtful for Game 1. But he gutted it out in Game 1 and was sensational in Game 2, scoring 42 points on 15-of-22 shooting in one of the best postseason performances of his career. It wasn’t enough as the Suns defeated his Bucks, 118-108, but the consolation prize for Antetokounmpo is the history he made in the second half.
He scored 20 total points in the third quarter, a playoff career-high for the two-time MVP, and he joined some very impressive company in the process. He is now the fourth player in NBA history to score 20 points in a single quarter in a Finals game, joining Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars in the record books on the way to one of his best playoff performances ever.
Antetokounmpo gave the Bucks a historic performance, but his teammates just couldn’t give him enough help offensively. Milwaukee’s four other starters combined to score just one more point than Giannis did on his own, putting up 43 on 19-of-52 shooting for the night. The Bucks shot 29 percent from behind the arc. The Suns shot 50 percent behind a balanced offensive attack.
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Milwaukee beat Atlanta in Games 5 and 6 of the Eastern Conference finals without Antetokounmpo because their role players stepped up and played like superstars. They haven’t thus far in the Finals, and if the Suns do go on to defeat the Bucks in the series, their play is going to be a big reason why. It won’t matter how well Antetokounmpo plays if his teammates can’t share some of the scoring burden.