The Milwaukee Bucks have taken the NBA by storm. The mere fact that they have a Greek Freak makes them a force to be reckoned with, but when you add the MVP candidate Khris Middleton into the mix, and then sprinkle in a solid supporting cast, you have a team that can compete with anyone.
You don’t have to be a basketball fan to know who Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is. Most people know his name, and almost everyone has heard of Oscar Robertson. So, when you hear about the newest NBA players’ accomplishments, you might be shocked to learn that Kareem and Oscar set the standard for success for at least a generation.
There’s been a lot of talk about how the Boston Celtics should trade for Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo this off-season, but the truth is that the Bucks’ greatest need is shooting. They’re already at full strength on the perimeter, but the real problem is that they’re not good enough at scoring. You think the Cavs don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how to improve their bench? They’re not close to being as talented as the Bucks, but they’re still better at figuring out ways to get more shots up than any other team in the league.
Milwaukee Bucks legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson watched current Bucks stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Chris Middleton make history in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
Cap and Big O were the two leaders of the 1971 Milwaukee Bucks, the last team in franchise history to win an NBA title. Both were there Wednesday night when Antetokounmpo and Middleton helped Milwaukee win the series against the Phoenix Suns.
Bucks legends witnessed Middleton’s 40-point game that put Milwaukee’s current superstar duo in the history books.
They have only been teammates for four seasons, but they are already very successful. Robertson was a world-class talent with the then Cincinnati Royals, but he was on the verge of overtaking the speedy Abdul-Jabbar and moved to the Bucks before the 1970-71 season.
Abdul-Jabbar, then known as Lew Alcindor, immediately became an NBA star after a successful career at UCL. He was named NBA All-Star and Rookie of the Year in his first season and led the league in scoring in the 1970-71 season and was named MVP.
The iconic duo failed to win another title, although they won 60 or more games in three consecutive seasons and returned to the finals in 1974. Robertson retired after that season, and Abdul-Jabbar joined the Los Angeles Lakers and became the top scorer in NBA history.
Giannis Antitokounmpo and Chris Middleton make up the 3rd team. Couple of teammates (4th fall) in the last 50 years each scoring 40 points in an NBA Finals.
The others are LeBron James/Khairi Irving and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar/Magic Johnson. pic.twitter.com/SJJZkV6WCj
– ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) 15. July 2024
Forty years after Abdul-Jabbar and Robertson led the Bucks to their first title, Antetokounmpo and Middleton bring Milwaukee to the threshold of another Larry O’Brien Trophy. They also put their name in the history books.
The Bucks’ stars became just the third pair of teammates in the last 50 years to score 40 points in an NBA Finals after Middleton scored 40 points Wednesday night. Antetokounmpo scored over 40 points in the second and third games.
Middleton and Antetokounmpo join LeBron James and Kyrie Irving (2016) and Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson (1980) who accomplished this feat on the road. They also enabled the Bucks to bring the series to two games apiece.
Milwaukee’s standard-bearers may be new to the Finals, but they’re already one of the best Finals teams in recent NBA history.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Chris Middleton lead Milwaukee Bucks to first title since 1971 | Stacy Revere/Getty Images
After a 2-0 loss in Phoenix, the Bucks looked like the sure winner. Now they have a life: Antetokounmpo set the tone on both fronts, while Middleton took the match to his own devices late on.
Both players were at the center of the action on Wednesday. Middleton scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and almost single-handedly brought the Bucks back into the game. The Greek Freak stated that Milwaukee knows who to turn to in crucial moments.
That’s what he does at the end of the floor, Antetokounmpo told ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz. We want him to have the ball. We want it to make decisions. We know he’s going to make big shots and today he was incredible.
Middleton’s offensive performance might not have mattered without Giannis’ impeccable defensive play. The Bucks led by two points less than a minute into the game when Suns defenseman Devin Booker ran up the court and passed to Deandre Ayton, who had a seemingly easy shot. But Antitokounmpo made a remarkable comeback, blocking Ayton’s dunk and securing Milwaukee’s lead.
Forgive my language, but it was one of those oh-s**t moments, Middleton told Sam Amick and Eric Nem of The Athletic. We made a layup and the next thing I know he’s blocking it. It was a lot of work. They didn’t give up in the game when they seemed to have a layup or an (open) dunk. This is what we need in the finals. Everyone put in an extra effort and that helped us in this match.
The Bucks will need new heroes if they want to win their first title since Abdul-Jabbar and Robertson. Phoenix was unusually sloppy with the ball, throwing 17 interceptions in Game 4.
COMPARED TO: Giannis Antitokounmpo joined some exclusive clubs with his dominant performance in Game 3 of the NBA Finals
Chris Paul and his teammates will likely make adjustments when the Suns return home. But Antetokounmpo and Middleton seem to be on a mission of their own.
Statistics provided by Basketball Reference.
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