Less than a year after dropping 50 points in a closeout game that sealed his Finals MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo's follow-up bid is over.
In a wildly hyped Game 7 against the Boston Celtics on Sunday, the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks were dismissed surprisingly easily, 109-81. With his co-star Khris Middleton sidelined nursing an MCL sprain, Antetokounmpo recorded his fifth straight double-double and second straight 20-20 game. It took 26 shots to get his 25 points on Sunday.
But let's be clear: This isn't a legacy defining moment. It's probably not even legacy-altering.
Years from now, we may look back on this as a hiccup on the way to a pantheon career. It might end up being the fuel that pushes him into discussions about the top 10 to 15 players all time.
It's worth remembering that Giannis is 27 years old. LeBron James and Michael Jordan both won their first titles at that age. No one else in league history had two MVPs, a Finals MVP and a Defensive Player of the Year this young (Hakeem Olajuwon and MJ are the only other players to pull off that triple crown at any age).
But the details matter, so how should history judge Antetokounmpo's 2022 playoff exit?
He shot under 50 percent from the field in five of seven games against Boston and finished at 45.7 percent for the series, with a true shooting percentage of 51.6. That efficiency to get 33.9 points in a playoff series would be OK for plenty of players, but it's 11.5 percentage points shy of Antetokounmpo's regular-season mark since the start of 2018-19. It's not close to the 59.9 he put up in the 2021 postseason, either.
Against a defense with multiple lengthy, switchy wings like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, as well as mobile bigs like Grant Williams and Al Horford, Antetokounmpo had a hard time finding open shots. In an in-game interview during Game 6, Celtics coach Ime Udoka talked about the need to show him a crowd. And that's exactly what Boston did all series.