Was Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Block Better Than LeBron James? Five Greatest Blocks in NBA Playoffs History

Published 07/16/2021, 5:42 AM EDT
Jul 14, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Phoenix Suns during game four of the 2021 NBA Finals at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


The NBA playoffs are in full swing right now as the Bucks take on the Suns in the NBA Finals. While the Suns were 2-0 up, the Bucks made a resounding comeback thanks to Giannis Antetokounmpo and his heroics.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Leading his team to a win in the third game with a 33 point double-double, the ‘Greek Freak’ wasn’t the biggest contributor in offense, rather had some incredible defensive plays in game 4.

Jul 14, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) defends Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) during the fourth quarter during game four of the 2021 NBA Finals at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

One of it was a heroic block which is now being considered as one of the best ever in the post-season. But is it the best block in playoff history? Take a look at the top five blocks in playoffs history.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

5) Bam Adebayo denies Jayson Tatum in 2020 Eastern Conference Finals

Bam Adebayo wasn’t one of the biggest names in the Miami Heat coming into the 2019-20 season. The center was making headways though with his incredible defensive skills and his ability to protect the paint.

But Adebayo’s real defensive display was in the 2020 playoffs. After defeating the Bucks with ease, Bam and the Heat faced off against the Celtics. The first game was an absolute slugfest with both teams going at it.

With a 12 seconds remaining in overtime, Celtics’ Jayson Tatum drove to the basket and jumped up for a dunk which looked inevitable. But Adebayo had other plans. While it initially seemed a poster was bound to happen, the center had a rather nasty block on Tatum as he saved the basket with a couple of fingers.

This was certainly the playoff defining moment in the 23-year-old’s life so far and the trajectory the center is headed in, looks promising. Will we see yet another Bam special next season in the playoffs?

4) Scottie Pippen crushes Knicks’ hope for a championship

The Knicks were one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference back in the 90s. Led by the likes of Patrick Ewing along with electrifying guard John Starks, the Knicks were one of the most feared opponents in the league.

But their biggest rival were the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls. Often bested by the Bulls, the Knicks’ title window was closing in. But 1993 seemed like Knicks were on their way to finally defeat Chicago.

After taking a 2-0 lead in the series, the Knicks saw the Bulls make a comeback in the series. In a game changing game 5, the Bulls had a slender 1 point lead with a scoreline of 95-94.

With 24 seconds remaining, Knicks had possession. With his options to drive to the basket looking limited, Ewing passed it to Charles Smith. Smith immediately went up for a layup but was denied by Scottie Pippen.

The forward somehow grabbed his own rebound and went up for a layup yet again. But Pippen was once again there and blocked the shot. The Bulls ultimately closed the game 97-94 and took control of the series. They would go onto close out the series in the next game and subsequently complete their first ever three peat.

3) Giannis Antetokounmpo denies Suns’ DeAndre Ayton

The 2021 NBA Finals has been fantastic to say the least. While the Suns looked in cruise control, the Bucks have stormed back in the series winning both their games at the Fiserv Forum.

Talisman Giannis Antetokounmpo has certainly been crucial to this run. Be it his two-way display in game 2 and 3 or his defensive masterclass in game, the ‘Greek Freak‘ has stepped up in this season’s playoffs.

But their game 4 win came down to a fantastic block by Giannis. Late in the fourth quarter, the Bucks were only up by two points with a scoreline of 101-99. With a deficit of only two points, the Suns had a major chance to tie the scoreline.

It seemed inevitable as Suns’ Devin Booker could either hit the mid-range or could deliver a perfect lob to DeAndre Ayton. Booker chose the latter and a simple dunk was the anticipated result.

But Giannis used his insane athleticism and recovered. Jumping off of his left foot, the ‘Greek Freak’ stopped Ayton from putting down the alley-oop and this stoppage ultimately led to a Bucks win. If the Bucks win this series, this block will be one of the defining moments in finals history.

2) Hakeem Olajuwon denies Knicks’ John Starks from a game-winner in 1994 Finals

The 90s era might have been dominated by the Chicago Bulls, but for two seasons in a row, the Bulls were not as invincible as Michael Jordan retired from the game. This opened the opportunity for teams to capture the crown.

Hakeem Olajuwon and the Rockets who were making some noise in the West, hit their prime form in the 1994 playoffs and advanced to the Finals. Facing off against the Knicks, the Rockets fell to a 3-2 deficit in the series.

With a scoreline of 86-84, Houston had a lead of only two points with five seconds remaining on the clock. The Knicks the man who could be their savior, John Starks. Starks who had hit 5 of his 8 attempts, was the obvious candidate and could have hit the game winner.

The plan certainly worked out well for the Knicks as Starks was in a great position to pull up. As soon as the 6’3″ guard released the ball, Hakeem got a deflection on the ball and denied Stark and the Knicks to have a buzzer beater and ultimately winning a championship.

With a series now tied at 3-3, Hakeem and the Rockets eventually edged past the Knicks in game 7 as they won the game 90-84 handing Olajuwon his first NBA championship.

1) LeBron James silences record-breaking Warriors in game 7 of 2016 Finals

Game 7 matchups in the Finals are probably the most pressured environments in the NBA. These situations either weather the mental strength of a player or often shows a superstar’s resolve.

WATCH THIS STORY: LeBron James and Other NBA Stars in Their Childhood

It was the latter for LeBron James. After going down 3-1 against the 72-10 Warriors, Bron and Cavs made a resounding comeback as they won game 5 and game 6 forcing a game 7 in Oakland.

Game 7 was an absolute slugfest and in the fourth quarter, the game slowed down with both the teams struggling to connect shots. With 1:56 remaining on the clock and scores tied at 89-89, the Warriors had a fast break opportunity.

With a two on one opportunity, Steph Curry gave the perfect pass to Andre Iguodala who was on his way for an easy layup. But the Dubs did not see the freight train LeBron James coming down the court. Just as Iguodala laid the ball on the glass, Bron elevated and had a perfect block denying Steph and Co. to take the lead.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Moments later, the Cavs eventually took a three point lead with a Kyrie Irving three pointer. LeBron also chipped in as he scored a free throw and ultimately leading Cavs to a 93-89 win in a game 7 and a first championship for Cleveland.

This iconic chase-down block by ‘the King’ is the ultimate playoff block and given how tense the situation was, stands out as one of the best defensive plays ever in Finals and playoffs history.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

With Giannis Antetokounmpo just getting started, we might be in for some more miraculous plays by the ‘Greek Freak.’ Can the 2-time MVP finally win a championship for the Bucks? Let us know in the comments section down below.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Aditya Mohapatra

1016 articles

Aditya Mohapatra is a sports enthusiast who primarily covers the NBA for EssentiallySports. Having graduated in Mass Communication, he has prior experience in writing for ABP News, and has been writing for EssentiallySports since November 2020. This die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan feels that LeBron James is the best thing to have ever happened to the NBA, and will hold a healthy debate with anyone suggesting otherwise.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

essentiallysports's Stories