What we’re seeing Giannis Antetokounmpo do in the 2021 NBA Finals is only comparable to Air Jordan himself — and the Milwaukee Bucks are hoping that trend continues to knot up the championship series that they currently trail 2-1 heading into Wednesday night’s Game 4 in Milwaukee.
Antetokounmpo has notched 40 or more points in each of the previous two games of the Finals, dropping 42 in a Game 2 loss in Phoenix before his 41 sparked the Bucks’ first victory of the series.
“I’ve seen him do a lot of stuff like this. It doesn’t surprise me,” his teammate, Khris Middleton, said. ” To see him do this for a while now, and now it’s on the biggest stage and now everybody is getting a chance to see what he goes through; how he’s hurt and he still finds a way to go out there and compete and be productive and be dominant at the same time.”
“The Greek Freak” is only the second player since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000 to record back-to-back games of at least 40 points and 10 rebounds — an impressive enough feat. But back-to-back 40-point games is as rare as they come in the NBA Finals.
In fact, it’s only happened four other times by three players: O’Neal in 2000 for the Los Angeles Lakers in Games 1 and 2 against the Indiana Pacers, Michael Jordan four-straight times from Games 2-5 in the 1993 Finals against the Suns, and Jerry West — who posted two straight 40-point-plus games in the 1965 and 1969 Finals; both against the Boston Celtics.
Another 40-point night for Antetokounmpo only puts him behind Jordan.
“I’m not Michael Jordan,” the Bucks star said. “I’m just out there trying to enjoy the game, trying to play, trying to put myself in a position to be successful. That’s what I’m trying to do.
“You know, when I take each possession at a time, when I have a possession in front of me, I try to get myself in a position to be successful. Sometimes, it’s driving the ball. Sometimes, it’s sealing down in the lane. Sometimes, it’s setting a screen.”
Granted, the Suns will be keen on gaining a two-game advantage with Chris Paul and Devin Booker trying to deliver Phoenix its first NBA title ever.
“We got better from Game 1 to Game 2. And now we got better from Game 2 to Game 3,” Antetokounmpo said. “We’ve got to keep building. Keep trusting one another. Keep trusting winning habits. Keep making winning plays. Keep competing hard, and keep doing it together.”
Tip-off for Game 4 on Wednesday night is at 9 p.m. ET.