The hourglass runs dry on The Valley as another NBA Finals concludes.
The Phoenix Suns fall to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 Tuesday night, Giannis Antetokounmpo going nuclear for 50 points.
For the third time in Suns history, Phoenix loses the Finals on a Game 6, as they did in 1976 and 1993.
A slow first quarter eventually turned in a more progressive effort in the second. Chris Paul, who has faced questions about his injured hand, laid those doubts to rest. The point guard scored a team-high 26 points but still couldn’t fuel Phoenix to extending the series.
“I got to my spots a little bit more tonight,” Paul said to reporters postgame. “But I said if you watched us play all season long, I score when I had to, some games I didn’t. Probably needed to more even in this game and probably some other games…”
Deandre Ayton looked off as he once again teetered on fouling out. The center having to sit out and watch Frank Kaminsky pick up the pace at times in the second half. Ayton would finish with 12 points, six rebounds and an assist.
As the fourth quarter winded down, the more the Bucks became assertive in their scoring. With some timely help from Bobby Portis and Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s relentless performance ensured the end of Phoenix.
The Greek Freak was simply undeniable under the basket, resisting the Suns’ defense to lay in a basket or jam it through.
OH. MY. GIANNIS. pic.twitter.com/qtZH6cBG4I
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) July 21, 2021
As stingy as the Suns were, Antetokounmpo nor Milwaukee would be denied. Not that Phoenix made it easy as Khris Middleton noted postgame.
“They were tough. They switched a lot and blitzed a lot and forced us to tough isolations or tough jumpers.”
The shooting guard continued, saying the team needed to, “just attack and don’t settle, and Giannis was a big part of that, just coming out and pin his head down and get it to the rim.”
The Greek Goes Beyond Freak
Not many people have had quite the journey like Giannis Antetokounmpo. Plenty has been said about his rise from the streets of Greece to playing for the National Basketball Association.
Two straight MVP awards, five All-Star selections and a Defensive Player of the Year award later, Antetokounmpo has reached the peak.
The 26-year-old power forward, already a Bucks legend, is now an icon after winning the NBA Finals and the series MVP.
“I never thought ever at 26 I’d be sitting in this chair.”
— NBA TV (@NBATV) July 21, 2021
In accomplishing the ultimate task of any basketball player, Antetokounmpo created yet another milestone in his still-young career. The Greek Freak is now the first to have 40+ points, 10+ rebounds and 5+ blocks in an NBA Finals game.
“If I never have a chance to sit on this table ever again, I’m fine with it,” Antetokounmpo stated postgame. “I’m fine with it. I hope this can give everybody around the world hope. I want them to believe in their dreams.”
Long-time teammate Khris Middleton knows the significance winning it all means to Antetokounmpo. Even as Middleton revels in being a champion himself.
“I mean, we had — we formed a bond, a brotherhood since that first year we’ve been together,” Khris Middleton reflected after his 17-point game. ” We struggled. We struggled together. But we both saw in each other there was no give-up. It was all motivation to be better and not be embarrassed.”
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer shared the same sentiment with reporters postgame. He commended both the Greek Freak and Middleton, saying, “I love the players, I love the roster, I love the team.”
“I’m incredibly fortunate to be where I am and just to be a small part of what’s happening tonight.”
The indomitable spirit of Antetokounmpo was infectious and prevalent in his teammates. Everyone from Jrue Holiday to Bobby Portis fed off his play and it pushed the Bucks to the top of the NBA mountain.
A championship victory well worth the journey for the face of the Milwaukee franchise.
House of The Setting Suns
Considering everything the Phoenix Suns endured in the past decade, this skyrocket to the Finals seemed like destiny for the team and its supporters.
Sometimes, pain is too indescribable for words. But for the Suns, it was the number of words that painted their grief.
“Just lost,” Chris Paul told reporters when asked about the emotional state of the locker room.
“Silent,” Devin Booker responded. “Just a lot of emotion. It’s a long season, we went through a lot.”
In the case of Suns coach Monty Williams, his feelings resonated beyond the printed word.
— Giannis Wobtetokounmpo (@WorldWideWob) July 21, 2021
Much like Game 5, shots that seemed like gimmes failed to fall through. Coach Williams’ squad ending the season shooting 44.2% (38 of 86) from the field. Nevertheless, the Suns still fought and stayed the course. Booker scored 19 while Jae Crowder had a 15-point, 13-assist double-double.
The Suns went into the fourth quarter tied at 77 apiece, equalizing twice but never going out in front. The Bucks making sure of that thanks to 14 second-chance points throughout the night.
“We had opportunities, a lot of shots in and out, but our transition offense tonight we couldn’t convert,” Williams mentioned. ” We had a number of opportunities to get a layup, get a three and we just couldn’t do it.”
As the Bucks celebrate a championship well-earned, the Suns return to Arizona. They are pained but no less grateful for what has been accomplished.
“I love competing, I love the challenges, man, but I just wish I could win,” Ayton said in the postgame conference. “But at the same time it was fun, I learned a lot.”
The big question now is whether or not this was Phoenix’s best shot in a long time to win the Finals at last. But for The Valley, now is not the time to answer that just yet.
Expectations were surpassed in Phoenix this season. The future can only hope to bring out more in the young men on the roster. Even in defeat, the Suns will be driven to return to the top. Of all that Monty Williams has established, his mantra will hopefully live beyond his time and remain part of Suns lore.
“Everything you want is on the other side of hard.”
No doubt the Suns will strive for the other side come 2022.
“From Our Haus to Yours”