These are not not necessarily the best individual games of the playoffs. Giannis would have all 10 of those, just like he had all 10 of the best regular season performances (for the third straight season…). These were delightful to me though.
It is tough now to put yourself back in the moment, back to the games, to April 17 (up 2–0 on Pistons) or May 17 (up 2–0 on Raptors), to all the reasonable, honest hope and confidence that filled those days, but…
10. Eric Bledsoe — Game 3 vs. Pistons
Fun number: 7 shots made at the rim
Bucks 119 Pistons 103 — April 20, 2019
He was not hitting shots (0–4), but he was playing defense and playing a smart game and looked like he looked for almost the whole regular season. Which was a player that you picture making plays in not just the first round but the Finals.
9. Pat Connaughton — Game 2 vs. Pistons
Fun number: 4 blocked jumpers
Bucks 120 Pistons 99 — April 17, 2019
Six different Bucks blocked a shot. Connaughton blocked four, and the thing was, they were all jumpers. This was very much his thing all season long, and what a very cool thing. He made 8–10 shots from the field and was all over the boards and was great everywhere, but it is the blocks that stand out glowingly.
8. George Hill — Game 5 vs. Celtics
Fun number: 16 points in 21 minutes
Bucks 116 Celtics 91 — May 8, 2019
At one point, the Bucks gathered five straight offensive rebounds against the visibly broken Celtics, and Hill was all around it, and he almost got number six, and then clapped hard, and the Bucks never even ended up scoring on that sequence but that did not matter.
7. Giannis Antetokounmpo — Game 4 vs. Pistons
Fun number: 41 points
Bucks 127 Pistons 104 — April 22, 2019
The Bucks made something of a highlight reel in the first round and this one below was the tops.
6. Giannis Antetokounmpo — Game 2 vs. Raptors
Fun number: 17 rebounds
Bucks 125 Raptors 103 — May 17, 2019
Giannis got his own board on the first play of the game and dunked the ball and that is exactly where the game went.
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo — Game 3 vs. Celtics
Fun number: 6 Giannis-assisted three-pointers
Bucks 123 Celtics 116 — May 3, 2019
Going back to where the Bucks went down in Game 7 the year before, and the series at 1–1, Giannis turned everything in a brilliant two-way night in Boston. This one might be my favorite play of the playoffs.
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo — Game 2 vs. Celtics
Fun number: 28–2 Bucks run to end game
Bucks 123 Celtics 102 — April 30, 2019
After a rough Game 1 blowout loss at home, the Bucks trailed after the first quarter of Game 2, and it was up in the air until Giannis keyed a 16–0 run. It was just one game, one half really, but you could see (below, see) that Giannis was well on the way to breaking the Celtics.
3. Brook Lopez — Game 1 vs. Raptors
Fun number: 13 fourth quarter Brook points
Bucks 100 Raptors 92 — May 15, 2019
Brook put in 13 points in the fourth quarter. He also blocked the majority of Kawhi’s fourth quarter shot attempts, and grabbed what amounted to a game-sealing defensive rebound.
2. Ersan Ilyasova — Game 2 vs. Raptors
Fun number: 3 more charges drawn
Bucks 125 Raptors 103 — May 17, 2019
Fourteen years later (after being drafted by the Bucks), Ersan gloriously packed together everything he has always been doing in a half of hoops that set the tone for a massive win (and ultimately the final win). The arc is out of view…
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo — Game 4 vs. Celtics
Fun number: 17 fourth quarter points
Bucks 113 Celtics 101 — May 6, 2019
The Bucks were only up 2–1, and they were down at halftime (by two) in Boston in Game 4. Then the bench (mob) went nuts in the third quarter to give the Bucks a lead while Giannis watched in foul trouble, and then Giannis dominated the fourth quarter and pretty much ended the series right then and there. Things turn quickly.