Giannis Antetokounmpo made what some are saying is one of the best defensive plays in NBA Finals history on Wednesday, soaring out of nowhere and using every inch of his 7-3 wingspan to block Deandre Ayton on an alley-oop well above the rim.
A dunk would have pulled the Suns level with the Bucks with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter of a critical Game 4. Instead, Milwaukee held on for a 109-103 victory to even the series heading back to Phoenix.
This should go down in NBA history as one of the greatest defensive plays of all time. pic.twitter.com/hpgBz4QlyC— Anthony F. Irwin (@AnthonyIrwinLA) July 15, 2021
"This is one of the great recovery plays you'll ever see."— NBA (@NBA) July 15, 2021
Another look at Giannis' clutch block late in the @Bucks win.. series continues Saturday at 9pm/et on ABC.#ThatsGame #NBAFinals pic.twitter.com/Y4TsnEvW2E
Bucks guard Pat Connaughton called it the best block of all-time.
“Obviously, we’re a little biased and you can talk about the LeBron block as well,” he said. “But as far as a block where he (Antetokounmpo) was covering the pick-and-roll, he had to judge where the pass was, where Ayton was catching it and trying to dunk it, above the box, it’s about as impressive as you can get.”
The LeBron James block Connaughton is referring to is the chasedown block that happened with less than two minutes left of Game 7 of the 2016 Finals and spurred the Cleveland Cavaliers to a title-clinching win over the Golden State Warriors.
Unfortunately, a former Arizona Wildcat was the victim of that play too, only then it was Andre Iguodala whose shot was sent away. Iggy clearly isn’t too bitter about it, tweeting Wednesday “That Giannis block was crazy. King James-esque!”
Connaughton explained why he thought Antetokounmpo’s was better.
“I would look at the criteria of greatest block of all time based off of difficulty of the block and then time and score,” he said. “I think obviously LeBron’s time and score probably has the edge in that situation because of when it was and helped them literally win a championship that game. But I think the difference between the time and score difference and then the difficulty of the block difference, gives the edge to Giannis just because a chase-down block, you have a little bit more of an ability to read, and obviously it’s a great block and we’re talking about two of the greatest blocks of all time and I don’t want to discredit that block, but Giannis was guarding the pick-and-roll...and that’s a play that they have done time and time again. Book threw a great pass, threw it high and away from any defender and Giannis was able to recover. He’s Defensive Player of the Year, two-time MVP for a reason and I think it’s those types of play to be able to read where Ayton is, where the ball is, and to have the athleticism to get that high and get literally all of the basketball is why I would give the edge to him.”
Ayton didn’t speak to the media after Wednesday’s game, so we don’t know what he thinks of the play, but he can get the last laugh by winning the series.
Game 5 is set for Saturday at 6 p.m. PT on ABC.
Big difference with LeBron block, spectacular as it was, is he ran linear.— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) July 15, 2021
The change of pace, with the ground covered, is just stunning with the Giannis block. It’s both. https://t.co/z6bm1lSjD6
I'm trying to think of a bigger block in NBA Finals history than Giannis' block tonight (aside from LeBron's, of course) and I'm coming up short. I'm sure there are others but man that one's huge— Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) July 15, 2021
I'm still putting the game 7 LeBron chase-down block over it. But Giannis is firmly in second.— Antonio Planas (@AntonioPlanas1) July 15, 2021
Good lord. https://t.co/s2k1YfNMfI
If Lebron doesn’t block Iguodala, they lose the NBA Finals. It was Game 7, down 3-1 against a 73 win team.— SWAGGY C (@SwaggyCTV) July 15, 2021
If Giannis doesn’t block Ayton, it’s a tie game with it being the Bucks ball. This block is an all-timer but it’s not even comparable.
Situations matter. Relax. https://t.co/MmLvBklhnx