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MILWAUKEE -- Late on Christmas afternoon, Giannis Antetokounmpo came down the floor with his arms out, screaming for Jrue Holiday to pass him the ball. Holiday looked him off, so Giannis started clapping, trying desperately to get his point guard's attention. Again Holiday looked him off. At that point, some stars would mope and take themselves out of the play. Not Giannis.

"Giannis isn't like that at all," Holiday said. "Even though he claps and wants the ball, he also wants you to make a play." 

Holiday did just that. As the veteran point guard worked his way to the basket, Giannis followed him with a hard cut through the paint. This time, he got what he wanted. Holiday found him with a crafty drop-off pass, and Giannis powered his way to the rim for a clutch and-one to tie the game at 111-111. 

A few minutes later, the Milwaukee Bucks walked off the floor with a 117-113 win over the Boston Celtics in a Christmas Day thriller. After trailing by double digits for most of the game, and by as much as 19 late in the first half, the Bucks came storming back thanks to their two-time MVP. Giannis scored 29 of his 36 points in the second half, and added 12 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. 

With a worldwide audience looking on during one of the league's marquee days, Giannis provided yet another reminder of his brilliance. And what's more, he did it in his first game back after a bout with COVID-19, which is once again sweeping through the league. 

He entered the health and safety protocols on Dec. 14, and wasn't cleared until Christmas Eve. Because he dealt with symptoms and had been out for over a week, it initially wasn't clear if he would be able to play. But a strong workout convinced the team he was ready – albeit with a minutes restriction. His performance showed they made the right decision. 

"That's him," Wesley Matthews said. "He gutted it out. You could see the fatigue but he's just one of those guys. He's a robot, he's a machine. He tells himself he feels no pain, he feels no pain. He feels nothing. He keeps going, he keeps attacking and keeps putting pressure on everybody. He's a gamer. He's a two-time MVP for a reason, he's Finals MVP for a reason. He's all he is for a reason. The greatest thing about him is he's not content with any of it."

Giannis proved his teammate's point in the closing seconds of the game. Though he had already done so much to drag the Bucks back into the lead, he came up with one more stunning play to seal the win. 

Trailing by three with less than 20 seconds to play, the Celtics tried to get a quick two. It looked like they would be successful after Jayson Tatum drove past Khris Middleton and had a clear path to the basket, but Giannis had other ideas. He darted over to Tatum, who dished the ball to Robert Williams III. It was the right read, and against any other player it would have been an easy dunk. Instead, Giannis recovered to the other side of the rim and rose up for the rejection. In a split second, he had shut down two Celtics all by himself. 

"I'm gonna jump no matter what," Giannis said. "If Tatum tries to dunk it, I'm going to try to block it – jump vertical, try not to foul. But he decided to pass it to Williams under the basket, and I turned around and jumped. Sometimes you are in a disadvantage, and plays like that you get dunked on. But it doesn't really matter. At the end of the day you try to win the game, try to put yourself in a position to block the ball. It went our way, it went in our favor on that play, and we were happy."

After Giannis returned and provided the perfect Christmas present, all the fans inside a sold-out Fiserv Forum felt the same way.