Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Monster Game Was Wasted Plus 6 Observations From Game 2

The Suns sit two wins away from the franchise’s first NBA title after their 118-108 victory in Game 2, but the talk was about the Greek Freak's epic effort.

Giannis Antetokounmpo Game 2 NBA Finals 2021

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 08: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks rests against the Phoenix Suns during the first half in Game Two of the NBA Finals at Phoenix Suns Arena on July 08, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Giannis Antetokounmpo Game 2 NBA Finals 2021

Part of the strategy Milwaukee wanted to use in its quest to even up the NBA Finals Thursday wasn’t revolutionary.

It was obvious. It was working. And it was mesmerizing.

“We want Giannis attacking,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said pre-game.

Attack he did. Giannis Antetokounmpo was practically unstoppable in the paint, especially in the third quarter, as he put up monster numbers—42 points, 12 boards, and 3 blocks over 40 minutes—in a Finals performance that fans won’t soon forget. But because his running mates couldn’t match his energy or offensive output to seriously threaten Phoenix, Milwaukee disappointingly heads back home in a 0-2 hole.

Behind 31 points from Devin Booker and a barrage of 3-pointers from the entire squad, without much drama, the Suns were able to weather Antetokounmpo’s offensive onslaught and epic swats. The Suns now sit two wins away from the franchise’s first NBA title after their 118-108 victory in Phoenix, but the talk after this one has to be how Antetokounmpo’s epic evening was wasted.

Twitter had a field day piling on Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday who couldn’t muster enough offense to make it close down the stretch. At times it felt like Antetokounmpo—who scored 20 in the third frame, the most by a player in a quarter in the Finals since Michael Jordan in 1993—did everything for the Bucks. If only he had more help—Middleton finished with 11 on 5-of-16 shooting while Holiday had 17 on 7-of-21 shooting—maybe we feel differently about the prospects of this series being something other than a Suns coronation right now.

Because Milwaukee could’ve snatched this one away. A few more stops, a few more loose balls, a few more shots fall from those not named Giannis and I’m writing a different story. 

Phoenix, of course, deserves its flowers for shooting lights out from beyond the arc (20-of-40, tying a Finals record for most made threes) and the Bucks deserve demerits for not having answers, again, defensively. Even if Budenholzer liked what he saw from his club on that end.

“I think defensively, I think there’s some progress and improvement,” the Bucks coach said after the game. “We’ve just got to keep working that end, and same thing offensively. We’ve just got to get better and we’ve got to go home and play good basketball.”

Chris Paul added 23 points and 8 assists while Mikal Bridges exploded for 27 points. Phoenix hit 11 threes in the first half (they had 11 in Game 1) and enjoyed an 11-point lead at the half.

“With our team, we got shooters. Like real shooters,” Paul said. “And I say this all the time, it’s nice when you kick it to the guy and you expect him to make it.” 

Milwaukee was able to whittle down that lead to a couple of possessions in the fourth quarter, but the Suns once again closed out the game the way championship clubs are supposed to do. While a two-game lead doesn’t mean this series has already been wrapped up for Phoenix—everyone has already pointed out how the Bucks climbed back from an 0-2 deficit against the Nets earlier this postseason—it ain’t looking great for the Bucks right now. 

Game 3 tips Sunday at 8 p.m. ET from Fiserv Forum. Here are six other observations from Game 2.

Ain't a Holiday

Jrue Holiday Chris Paul Game 2 NBA Finals 2021

Never call it a comeback. The Suns entered Game 2 12-0 this postseason when they’ve held a double-digit lead. That record now sits at 13-0 after the poised and polished Suns, playing calmer, cooler, and way more collected than their lack of Finals experience would suggest entering this series, were able to weather a fourth quarter run by the Bucks. Phoenix’s lead never dipped below five points. 

The Counting Continues

Giannis Antetkounmpo Free Throw Game 2 2021

Sure, Booker rolling up to the arena in a different custom car for each of the first two games of the Finals has been fun, but we don’t really do cars at Complex. We’re all about sneakers. So we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t highlight PJ Tucker, the NBA’s No. 1 sneakerhead, stuntin’ before Game 2. The Bucks forward, widely known to have the league’s deepest and rarest collection of kicks, broke out the epically hyped Air Mags for his tunnel walk. Released in 2016, a pair of Nike MAG Back to the Futures (official name) can be yours—depending on your size—for anywhere between $52,000 and $200,000 on StockX. Consult with your accountant before pulling the trigger.  

P.J. Tucker pulled up in Nike Mags for Game 2 of the NBA Finals 👀

— Complex Sneakers (@ComplexSneakers) July 9, 2021

Saric Will Be Missed

Dario Saric Torn ACL Finals 2021

If you care about it, the ratings for Game 1 of the Finals were surprisingly good. We’ve written in the past about the NBA’s ratings problem—real or maybe slightly exaggerated, depending on your perspective—but the league was very happy to trumpet the Suns’ 118-105 victory Tuesday saw a 13 percent increase in viewership compared to last year’s Game 1 win by the Lakers over the Heat. ABC’s broadcast averaged over 8.5 million viewers, peaking at closer to 10 million viewers in the fourth quarter. Game 1, predictably, set 20-year ratings records in the Phoenix and Milwaukee markets. 

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