Giannis went supernova in Game 2, but Bucks need more from him

Published July 10, 2021, 1:00 PM â—Ź Jon Carlos Rodriguez

Giannis Antetokounmpo did everything to keep the Bucks in step with the Suns in Game 2, but it still wasn't enough.

There was an interesting moment during a timeout in Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks. 

The scene was straight out of a sports movie. At the center of it was Giannis Antetokounmpo, who appeared to be in his most animated self, trying to pump up his teammates.

He stretched his long, muscular arm and pointed his finger at PJ Tucker then made arm gestures that were either a form of rallying or of extreme frustration.

Then he slammed his hand on an empty chair to hammer his point. He pumped his right fist and gripped a towel with his left, all while looking at his teammates straight in the eyes as he barked words of encouragement.

This little show of emotion from Giannis will be remembered long after the series is over, whatever the outcome may be. It’s this year’s version of frustrated LeBron at the bench after the JR Smith faux pas or out-of-gas Jimmy Butler slumped at the stanchion.

The only difference is that those other moments showed basketball superheroes in their most vulnerable state. They’re humans, after all.

This thing with Giannis, however, was something else. It’s the scene where the superhero is emitting his superhuman strength. Sure, everything he does on the court at this point—hurt knee and all—is beyond mortal, but what he’s been doing off it has been equally impressive.

Giannis, the motivational speaker, got the spotlight when he came down with a knee injury against the Atlanta Hawks. Hobbled on the sidelines, he did work by coaching his teammates. This is the type of superhero that Giannis is and this is the type of superhero that Milwaukee needs.

In the Game 1 loss, Giannis played 35 MVP minutes, where he did the things we thought were impossible after hyperextending your knee just a week prior.

Superhero things like scoring 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting and grabbing 17 rebounds. And supervillain things like running the full length of the floor, at full speed, then launching into the air like a missile to deflect a sure Suns basket.

But he needed to do more.

So in Game 2, he replicated his entire 20-point output in Game 1, but only needed the third quarter to do it. While the Suns were solving basketball with their clockwork ball movement and precise shooting, Giannis was solving the dilemma of his existence.

In total, he extended his work hours to 40 minutes and did more superhero things. He scored 42 points, a career playoff high, and grabbed 12 rebounds. He added four assists, three blocks, and a steal.

Giannis did everything in his power to help the Bucks run side-by-side with the Suns. He needs to do more.

Whether it’s doing TED Talks in the huddle or scoring 50 points and grabbing 20 rebounds, Giannis will just have to do more. This Suns team, who’s looking a lot like destiny, requires this of him.

Whether or not Giannis can rise to this challenge isn’t the question, we already know the answer to that (hell yes he can). The question is, with the Bucks two losses away from turning their first finals trip into a learning experience, will it work?

Or will Giannis’ efforts, no matter how superhuman, not be enough to derail a team that has been conditioned to handle superhuman qualities? 

Will he succeed where LeBron, Nikola Jokic, and Paul George failed? We’ll find out in Game 3.


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