In the fourth quarter in Boston on Sunday, Antetokounmpo – with a defender draped over him – had resumed his dribble and was struggling to find a teammate.
But rather than attempt a speculative shot or pass the ball, the “Greek Freak” turned to the basket, tossed the ball off the backboard before slamming home to complete the solo alley-oop.
The explosive display of athleticism gave the Milwaukee Bucks a 94-78 lead late in the fourth quarter and capped the team’s 101-89 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of their series. best-of-seven playoff.
When asked about the electrifying moment, the two-time MVP said it was his method of getting out of trouble.
“I threw it against the backboard,” he said. “I’m lucky God blessed me with the ability to jump. I had a good jump to pick it up again and was able to finish the play.”
It was another addition to the 27-year-old’s already impressive highlight reel, as he proved a threat to the Celtics all night.
He finished with a triple-double — the second in the playoffs of his career — with 24 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer showed his appreciation for Antetokounmpo’s solo alley-oop, saying it was “just pure talent, just pure instinct”.
“He’s a great player. He does unique, special and timely things,” Budenholzer said. “It’s one of those games where you’re happy he’s on our side.”
Jrue Holiday had 25 points and 10 rebounds as the defending champion Bucks used their physical defense to stifle the surging Celtics, who had just swept the Brooklyn Nets in the final round of the playoffs.
The two Celtics stars – Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown – were held to just 21 and 12 points respectively, shooting a combined 10 for 31 in the game.
With the Bucks’ length and physicality blocking the Celtics near the basket, Boston fired 50 three-pointers, making just 18 and shooting 33.3 percent from the field as a team.
“Offensively, it’s not our best night. I think we guarded pretty well,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “To lose a game by 12 points when we shot so badly bodes well for us. In a way, it’s good to get rid of that miss, offensively.”
The teams will face Boston again for Game 2 on Tuesday.