The Rockets-Bucks game on Tuesday night was must-watch television for all basketball fans — two of the best teams in the league, with the two best individual players in the league battling it out. Sure, these late-March regular season games rarely mean much, but Houston is still fighting for a better playoff seed and the Bucks are trying to adjust their lineups after injuries to Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic.
What was supposed to be a wire-to-wire game ended up a blowout in the Bucks’ favor, because like the Rockets, they have their own MVP-caliber player. Last night, he made his statement. In outplaying James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo proved that he is, without a doubt, the MVP of the 2019 season.
He didn’t put up gaudy numbers the way Harden (36.2 points/game) has. But the night encapsulated why, despite a truly historic season from The Beard, it is the Greek Freak (27.3 ppg) who should be taking home his first MVP award of his young career. He scored 19 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, added a steal and a block, and seemed to be everywhere whenever he was on the court. Most importantly, nobody on Houston had a prayer of guarding him, which opened up the floor for the rest of the Bucks offense in a way few other players can replicate. P.J. Tucker does his best, but Giannis is just too strong and agile to be contained by any one player.
The Bucks ultimately won by 14, bringing their win total to 56 and putting themselves in a good position to achieve a 60-win season. The game summed up the impact that Giannis has: he was a force in every part of the game and consistently required double teams. He also opened up shots and driving lanes for guys like Eric Bledsoe (23 points) and Pat Connaughton (14 points). What Harden is doing is legendary… but the Greek Freak checks every box required of an MVP while leading his team to the best record in the East after finishing seventh last season. Harden will forever be remembered as the offensive wizard of the 2018-19 season, but Giannis is the overwhelming force scaring everyone.