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Giannis MVP Watch: Bucks vs. Cavaliers

Antetokounmpo’s stat line includes 27 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists and 1 slayed King

If you’re new to this series, read our previous entries about Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo’s MVP candidacy (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI).

What did he do?

27 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals and 1 slayed King on 57.1 percent shooting in a 119-116 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.

Did he dunk on someone?

CLEVEELANNNNNNDDDDDD, yes he did. Antetokounmpo set a screen for guard Eric Bledsoe and drew Cavs guard Jose Calderon on the switch (first mistake). Bledsoe passed to center John Henson as Calderon turned his back to Antetokounmpo (second mistake), and Henson basically volleyed the ball back to a soaring Antetokounmpo, who caught the ball with two hands and slammed it home with one. While Calderon and teammate Kevin Love both made business decisions and got out of the way, technically avoiding being dunked on, they were both still in the general vicinity of the slam, or what I like to call the “Eurozone” (or “Gyro zone”), thus still being posterized.

Did he make a crazy play?

Late in the third quarter (2:06 mark below), Antetokounmpo brought the ball up the court like a point guard, drew an immediate double team from a 6-foot-7 shooting guard (Kyle Korver) and 6-6 power forward (Jae Crowder), which turned into a triple team when LeBron James (6-8) wandered over. Antetokounmpo hit all three defenders with “The Hesi” at the free throw line, took just two steps and then somehow went around Crowder’s outstretched arms to lay it in. It’s as if Mr. Fantastic stretched his arms around one Human Torch and two Benjamin Grimms all at once. #BrandSynergy

Earlier in the game, Antetokounmpo caught a pass in the low post and was immediately surrounded by two Cavs defenders. The Bucks forward took one step and dribble apiece and went up and under both players for a relatively easy basket.

You can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him.

What was his MVP moment?

Forty-seven minutes and 50 seconds into the game, Antetokounmpo hadn’t really taken over like he had in the early parts of the season. He passed up open shots to teammates, didn’t take advantage of clear mismatches and was overall outplayed by James (39 points, 6-of-11 on 3-pointers). But with 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter and a blown 20-point lead down to just two, Greeky put his team on his back, doe.

Antetokounmpo cut to the basket with James trailing, and guard Khris Middleton tried to zip a pass to Antetokounmpo near the restricted area. James read the pass like Richard Sherman and appeared to have intercepted the ball, thus putting the game in his hands — only, Antetokounmpo somehow reached under James’ legs to steal the ball back, and the four-time MVP finally looked every bit of the 15 years he’s been in the league, toppling to the floor as Antetokounmpo scooped up the ball and laid it in as he was fouled for the and-1 basket, pushing the lead to five with barely five seconds remaining. The King remained stretched out on the floor, exasperated.

The story should have ended there, with Antetokounmpo snapping a five-game losing streak to the Cavs and James stretched out on his back in disbelief. But James being James meant the All-Star forward would inbound the ball off the back of Antetokounmpo, collect the deflection himself and then hit a 3-pointer in Tony Snell’s face to make it a two-point game. The Bucks prevailed, but James is still a beast.

Martenzie is a senior researcher for The Undefeated. His favorite cinematic moment is when Django said "Y'all want to see somethin?"