NEW YORK: The Milwaukee Bucks, powered by a masterpiece from Greek forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, ended their 50-year wait for a second NBA championship with a 105-98 win over the visiting Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.
With the victory, the small-market Bucks clinched the NBA Finals 4-2 and became only the fifth team to win the best-of-seven championship series after losing the first two games.
Antetokounmpo was named most valuable player of the series, making him only the fifth international winner, after scoring a playoff career-high 50 points in the clinching game that will surely soothe the Bucks’ recent history of playoff letdowns.
“I love playing in the playoffs. I love playing in the Finals. This is the moments I want to chase. I want the team to build off this and hopefully we can do it again,” Antetokounmpo said.
Phoenix overcame a slow start and led by as many as seven points early in the third quarter but could not contain the dominant and determined Antetokounmpo down the stretch.
Suns guard Chris Paul had a team-high 26 points.
For Phoenix, who were seeking their first championship in the team’s 53-year existence, the defeat marked the first time all season they have lost four consecutive games.
Unlike last year’s NBA Finals when the celebratory screams of the Los Angeles Lakers echoed across an arena void of fans due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bucks’ win kicked off a wild party for both a capacity crowd of 17,000 inside and the 65,000 supporters who attended a watch party outside the arena.