Why Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Jayson Tatum could define the Eastern Conference

by Msnbctv news staff

MILWAUKEE — The Giannis Antetokounmpo-Jayson Tatum rivalry is right here. It’s defining the current of the Japanese Convention and will prolong properly into the longer term.

Antetokounmpo is placing up Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O’Neal numbers. Tatum is breaking the data of all these retired jerseys for his 75-year-old storied franchise that has 17 championships.

And the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks have not even performed Recreation 7 but.

It is a black-and-blue sequence, the ice bag and Advil counts rising by the sport. However Antetokounmpo and Tatum made artwork in Recreation 6 Friday night time, the Bucks star slamming the Celtics with two-by-fours and the Celtics star responding with high-arching dagger jumpers that cruelly extended every punch to the devastated Bucks’ crowd.

The Celtics gained 108-95 to even the sequence, profitable for the second time in Milwaukee up to now week. The street groups are 4-2, illustrating simply how shut these groups are.

Antetokounmpo had 44 factors, 20 rebounds and 6 assists, the third participant in historical past to have a 40/20/5 sport within the playoffs, the opposite two being Chamberlain and O’Neal. He has three 40-point, 10-rebound video games this sequence.

He is the third participant ever to have three 40-point video games in opposition to the Celtics within the playoffs. The opposite two are Jerry West within the historic 1969 Finals when he gained the MVP regardless of the Los Angeles Lakers dropping and LeBron James, who did it in 2018 in probably the most prolific sequence of his profession.

And Tatum is true there with Antetokounmpo. After out-scoring, out-rebounding, out-assisting, out-stealing and out-shooting Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant within the first spherical, Tatum goes proper on the present Finals MVP on this sequence.

Tatum had 46 factors Friday, the second most factors for the Celtics in an elimination sport in crew historical past behind solely Corridor of Famer Sam Jones. He is acquired two 45-point video games on this playoff run — one thing Larry Hen, John Havlicek, Paul Pierce or Bob Cousy by no means did for the Celtics.

When the Bucks lowered an 18-point lead down to 5 with six minutes to play — flashbacks from the Celtics’ blown 14-point fourth quarter lead two days earlier got here to thoughts — Tatum hit a devastatingly lengthy 3-pointer that broke the momentum in maybe the night time’s largest second.

“This was our season on the road and figuring out that, you allow all of it on the ground,” Tatum mentioned. “That is the mindset that I’ve, the mindset that all of us have. I wasn’t going to depart something on the market and have any regrets.”

He made 14 contested pictures, based on ESPN Stats & Data, demoralizing the Bucks and their crowd. They’d all come to Fiserv Discussion board anticipating to see the Bucks win — and why not? This title-winning group had gained its final eight closeout sport alternatives.

After a dud in Recreation 3 through which he performed his worst sport of the postseason, capturing 4-of-19, Tatum vowed to be higher. Within the final three video games, Tatum has averaged 37 factors and 9.3 rebounds. Setting an early tone for the Celtics, he scored 18 factors within the first half to offer the Celtics a 10-point halftime lead.

The massive pictures within the fourth quarter, through which Tatum scored 16, had been much more beneficial. It was precisely the sort of effort a celebrity delivers in elimination video games.

“That is why he will get paid the large bucks for moments like that,” mentioned Marcus Good, who scored 21 factors. “I used to be telling him the entire sport ‘simply be you, man.’ He was.”

Antetokounmpo, taking part in with out the injured Khris Middleton, has ratcheted up his already unfathomable manufacturing. He is averaging 35.3 factors, 13.8 rebounds, and 6.8 assists within the sequence. On Friday night time he went 14-of-15 on the foul line.

Tatum and Antetokounmpo, although each blessed with the basketball trinity of peak, versatility and ability, are fairly totally different gamers. Antetokounmpo grew up admiring Magic Johnson and Kevin Garnett. Tatum grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant. You may see it of their video games. It is not essentially the most pure matchup.

However that does not matter. There isn’t any strategy to watch what they’ve carried out over the previous two weeks and never need to see extra.

Making proclamations and predictions as to what number of instances this duo may do that once more is foolhardy. Nothing is assured. However Antetokounmpo is 27, Tatum 24.

They are going to play as soon as extra this yr. The winner goes to really feel like he is gained a prize struggle, and the loser goes to be devastated — and lay in wait for an additional probability. What extra can a basketball fan ask for?

“I used to be excited to play Recreation 6,” Tatum mentioned. “This was an enormous second for myself and the crew. We believed, we actually believed, we may are available in right here and win and it confirmed.”

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