The Milwaukee Bucks are one win away from their first NBA title in 50 years, and to no surprise, it wouldn't be possible without the star trio of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton.
Milwaukee has its Big 3 - with a capital "B" - and it's past time that they're respected as such, even if they don't have the profile of a typical Big 3.
Between the three, there are just eight All-Star Game appearances - Antetokounpmo accounts for five, Middleton picked up the honours in 2019 and 2020 and Holiday earned his lone All-Star selection nearly a decade ago in 2013.
Now that we're combining their accolades, now feels like a good time to add that in Game 5 of the 2021 NBA Finals, the three combined for one of the most legendary collaborative efforts in recent memory to defeat the Phoenix Suns.
NBA FINALS GAME 5: Takeaways | Twitter reactions | Player ratings
Antetokounmpo led the charge, finishing with 32 points, nine rebounds and six assists in just over 40 minutes of action. Holiday, who saw just under 42 minutes of action, finished with 27 points, 13 assists and four boards while Middleton finished with 29 points, seven rebounds and five assists in a team-high 44:23 of playing time.
Together, that's 88 points, 24 assists and 20 rebounds, making them responsible for 115 of Milwaukee's 123 points, per Kellan Olson of Arizona Sports. The trio also combined to score all 23 of the Bucks' points in a highly-contested fourth quarter.
I think those figures are pretty good.
Beyond the offensive numbers is the defensive excellence put on display by Holiday, who continues to make life difficult for whoever he's matched up with, but especially for the Suns' prolific backcourt duo of Devin Booker and Chris Paul.
MORE: CP3 is feeling the pressure from Holiday
Look no further than the Final steal and ensuing alley-oop to Antetokounpo for an illustration of the Jrue Holiday Experience, which now doubles an all-time NBA Finals moment.
JRUE STEAL. GIANNIS DUNK!!! pic.twitter.com/O0KhiXILBV- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) July 18, 2021
That play alone is enough to justify partiing ways with the entirety of your future draft capital to acquire a player of Holiday's calibre.
Middleton, who scored nine of his 29 points in the fourth, reprised his role as a calming force a big shot maker in Game 5, thwarting one Phoenix comeback attempt with a ridiculously difficult step-back 3-pointer over the outstretched arm of Mikal Bridges.
MONEY MIDDLETON. pic.twitter.com/J6cTym3yHq- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) July 18, 2021
MORE: Middleton delivers when he's needed most
As big of a shot as that was, Milwaukee was rendered scoreless for the next two minutes. That is, until Holiday and Antetokounmpo pulled off the aforementioned steal-to-alley-oop sequence, with a Middleton free throw effectively icing the contest.
As for Giannis, he continues to be Giannis.
Through five games, the two-time league MVP is now averaging 32.2 points, 13.0 rebounds and 5.6 assists, turning in two 40-point performances, two all-time blocks and, most recently an iconic alley-oop finish to help seal the Bucks' 3-2 series lead.
MORE: Giannis' alley-oop is yet another signature Finals moment
After a bevy of criticism during the past two seasons - some warranted and some unfair - Antetokounmpo is one win away from adding "NBA champion" to his résumè and has a high likelihood of adding Finals MVP while he's at it.
All at 26.
By answering the call time and time again on the biggest stage, Antetokounmpo is dispelling any prior notions surrounding his ability to be the centrepiece of a title-winner, with his star shining bright enough to set the tone for the two Bucks that round out the star triumvirate.
In Game 6, Milwaukee's Big 3 has an opportunity to again step up, this time with a chance to attain basketball immortality. If Game 5 is any indication, they'll be ready to do what needs to be done.
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