All 14 of Antetokounmpo’s baskets on Sunday night were at the rim, an impressive feat considering the Suns strategically employed a zone defense to prevent just that.
“He’s physical,” said Cam Johnson, the Suns guard. “When he gets downhill, gets to the basket, gets to the free-throw line, it encourages him to keep going. And he was hitting his free throws tonight, and that just kind of opens up his whole game. So it’s on us to stop him, give him more resistance. It’s tough to balance that physicality aspect of the game, especially when he’s coming at you so hard. But you just got to do it.”
But a great Antetokounmpo in the postseason has not always translated into wins. There was, of course, the Game 2 loss against the Suns. But there was also the opener of the Eastern Conference finals series against the Atlanta Hawks, when Antetokounmpo dropped in 34 points and snatched 12 rebounds, while dishing out nine assists. The Bucks lost.
In the semifinals against the Nets, Antetokounmpo racked up 34 points in Games 1 and 4. Milwaukee lost both games. Antetokounmpo has rarely had a poor game in this postseason run. Instead, it has been his teammates who have been unreliable.
Somewhat paradoxically, not having Antetokounmpo on the floor hasn’t always meant certain doom for the Bucks either. The confounding supporting cast pulled out wins in Games 5 and 6 against the Hawks without Antetokounmpo playing at all.