Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Giannis Antetokounmpo posts historic series numbers despite Bucks’ second-round loss to Celtics

Giannis Antetokounmpo has attempted 27 or more shots in seven playoff games over the course of his career. Five of those games came in this second-round series against the Boston Celtics. No single statistic could do a better job of boiling down the series Milwaukee’s two-time MVP just had than that. With Khris Middleton out, he had to carry a historic burden for Milwaukee to have any sort of chance at winning. He did just that.

For the series, Antetokounmpo accumulated a total of 237 points (for an average of 33.9 per game), 103 rebounds (14.7 per game) and 50 assists (7.1 per game). That was very nearly enough to keep the Bucks alive into the Eastern Conference finals, but Milwaukee came up just short. They lost Game 7 to Boston on Sunday, and in the end, Antetokounmpo’s brilliant series was wasted. 

But that doesn’t make it any less historic. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Antetokounmpo is the first player in NBA history to post 200 points, 100 rebounds and 50 assists in a single series. In addition, he finished the postseason by averaging 31.67 points, 14.1 rebounds and 6.75 assists across the 12 playoff games his Bucks played. He is therefore the first player in NBA history to average a 31-14-6 line across an entire postseason.

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These numbers will likely be of little comfort to Antetokounmpo himself. His goal was to defend his championship. The Bucks came up short due in part to factors entirely outside of their control, but if it’s any consolation, Antetokounmpo’s individual excellence seems to have created a new consensus. Right now, Giannis looks like the best player in the world.

There’s some irony to that. A year ago, Antetokounmpo was on the other side of this equation. His Bucks were playing a seven-game war against the Brooklyn Nets, who themselves were dealing with major injuries to Kyrie Irving and James Harden. Kevin Durant came mere inches away from sending the Bucks home in the second round. But a possible series-winning 3-pointer turned out to be worth only two points as Durant’s toe was on the line. Milwaukee won Game 7 in overtime and went on to win the championship, but Durant’s marvelous performance earned him widespread praise. He entered the season ranked No. 1 on virtually every major ranking of the top players in the NBA, including the one we made here at CBS Sports

Durant is getting older. LeBron James will turn 38 next season, and if the Bucks are healthy, they figure to be right back in the championship picture next season. If there was any lingering doubt over what Antetokounmpo brings to the table in the postseason, this series erased that. He has become the NBA’s best player, and if he plays this way over the next few years, with better luck, he’s headed for another couple of championships.

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