Playoffs 2021

NBA Playoffs 2021: Giannis Antetokounmpo praises 'special' Khris Middleton after clutch Game 3 performance

Coming off their upset loss in Game 1, the Bucks did it by committee in Game 2. In the 34-point win, four players scored in double figures while the bench erupted for 46 points.

The credit for Game 3, however, should single-handedly go to Khris Middleton. The 6-foot-7 wing caught fire late and put the Bucks on his back to lead them to a 113-102 Game 3 win.

He outscored the Hawks by himself, 20-17 in the fourth quarter and sparked Milwaukee's 25-7 game-sealing run. Postgame, two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was full of praise for his teammate.

"The day you retire is going to be the toughest day of my career," Antetokounmpo said. "He's special for a reason and he showed it tonight."

While the Greek Freak stuffed the stat sheet with 33 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals, it would have been in vain if not for Middleton's fourth-quarter performance.

The two-time All-Star finished the game with 38 points (tied playoff career-high), 11 rebounds and seven assists while shooting 15-of-26 from the field and 6-of-12 from beyond the arc.

Given the nature and standard of his performance, it wasn't only Antetokounmpo applauding Middleton.

"Shoutout to Khris on the fourth quarter man, he went crazy," Bucks reserve forward Bobby Portis said postgame. "I see it every day. He's a load, one-on-one, he's tough."

MORE: Takeaways - Middleton's late-game takeover leads Bucks to Game 3 win

"He starts to see it go in, he starts to feel good and gets into rhythm, he can score different ways," Bucks head coach Mike Budeholzer added. "Glad he's on our side."

Middleton, on the other hand, was very modest and put the performance in perspective.

"I'm proud of myself no matter what," Middleton said postgame.

"Second-round pick, worked my way into rotation after I got traded. To me, that's a win. So, every time I'm out there, I play with pride. Doesn't matter if I play well or bad. I know I'll give it my all out there, that's what I'm most proud about."

With this Game 3 win, the Bucks have the home-court advantage once again and have an opportunity to put a stranglehold on the series by taking a 3-1 series lead in Game 4 on Tuesday, June 29 at 8:30 p.m ET.

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