Giannis ‘Greek Freak’ Antetokounmpo put on a shooting clinic when he scored a season-high 50 points to lift the Milwaukee Bucks to a 128-19 victory over the refurbished Indiana Pacers.
The last time the Greek Freak dropped 50 points, it was in the championship-clinching game for the Bucks in the 2021 NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns. He notched the fourth 50-point game of his career, which includes the postseason.
“Obviously, it’s a nice feeling to have 50 points, you’ll always remember it, but I care about the win,” said Antetokounmpo. “We have another one on Thursday. We’ll try to finish and go to the All-Star break on a good note. As long as we’re winning, I’m good. You do whatever it takes, and have to focus on winning games.”
The Greek Freak took over the NBA scoring lead. He averages 29.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game. His PER rating of 32.60 is ranked #2 in the NBA.
In the MVP race, Joel Embiid is the consensus betting favorite at +200 odds ahead of reigning MVP Nikola Jokic at +300. Greek Freak is third on the MVP board at +400 odds.
Greek Freak’s final stat sheet read 50 points, 14 rebounds and 4 assists. He shot an efficient 81% from the field with a 17-for-21 clip from the floor, including 2-for-3 from 3-point range. He also knocked down 14-for-18 from the free-throw line.
The Bucks sat out Greek Freak in the previous game against the Portland Trail Blazers so he could rest a sore ankle.
“I felt way better,” Antetokounmpo said. “I was rested.”
“He’s in a good place and good rhythm at the free-throw line,” said Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer. “You get 14 of those and a couple of 3-balls and it can add up for him. Yeah, 50 points is never easy. It’s great to have him back.”
Greek Freak was hot out of the gate and scored 12 points of his 50 points in the first quarter, which set the tone for the rest of the Bucks/Pacers game.
The new-look Pacers fell behind early after they inserted two former members of the Sacramento Kings in the starting lineup. The Pacers traded their All-Star Domantas Sabonis to the Kings in favor of Buddy Hield and Tyrese Haliburton. Hield unleashed a season-high 36 points. The two guards combined for 53 points and 12 assists, but it wasn’t enough firepower to keep up with the Greek Freak and the Bucks.
“The Freak made it tough on us,” said Haliburton. “He’s a load.”
Bucks in 3-Hole
The Bucks (36-23) moved into the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference. They sit just 1.5 games behind the Miami Heat (37-21) and Chicago Bulls (37-21), who are tied for the #1 seed.
The Bucks are +700 odds to win the 2022 NBA championship after the most recent update from DraftKings. They’re tied with the Philadelphia 76ers as the fourth-highest team on the NBA futures board at DraftKings. Now that the 76ers added James Harden and dumped disgruntled Ben Simmons, there’s been a tonal shift predicting how the Eastern Conference shakes out in the postseason.
Sure, there are seven teams within five games of the top seed, which is still wide open, but it looks the road to the 2022 NBA Finals might go through Milwaukee. Once you get down to the nitty gritty of the playoffs, the Bucks and 76ers look like they’ll eventually meet in a showdown between Embiid and Greek Freak, or two of the NBA’s prominent big men.
Harden will not join the 76ers until after the All-Star Break, then they’ll have 24 games to integrate Harden into the offense before 76ers make a deep run in the playoffs. In the meantime, the Bucks are the defending champions and do not look like they’re ready to give up the throne so quickly.
— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) February 16, 2022
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