In a very high-level MVP race, Giannis Antetokounmpo no doubt has a say. The Greek has been playing at an impressive level lately and tonight he martyred the Atlanta Hawks in a remake of the conference finals. He compiled 43 points at 15/22, despite a small 1/5 from distance, but 12/17 from the throw line and 12 rebounds. He has 82 points over the last two games.
“The things he does are not normal,” said Bobby Portis. “It’s fun to be his teammate and fun to play alongside him.”
“I see him working every day, but I’ve also seen his growth and his greatness,” said Khris Middleton Middleton. “When you see it every day, you get used to it, but not in a bad way. You just realize how good he is and expect a lot from him. »
Mike Budenholzer feels there isn’t a big difference in the way the Greek has been playing since returning from the All-Star break, but “he’s even better.” »
I think he puts in a few 3-point shots and it adds up. You put in a few, plus the free throws, it makes the difference. I think Jrue and Khris are opening the game for him. His teammates are helping him, and Bobby is hot. So suddenly there’s maybe more attention on these guys so more space for Giannis. I think it’s a combination of things. But he’s special, unique and he just plays at a very, very high level.
Giannis set the tone tonight with 17 points in the first quarter to put his team on the right track. He returned 6 of his first 9 shots including a 3-pt shot at the quarter time buzzer.
“There are games where it works, and others where it doesn’t,” said Giannis Antetokounmpo. “I was just trying to make one right call after another, sometimes it’s playing pick & roll, attacking the circle, going into the keyhole, creating an open shot for someone else, going for the rebound offensive. Basically that’s what I was trying to do. And I was able to get into the rhythm. »
“Giannis started the game aggressive,” Middleton said. “I think he realized that nobody could defend on him, he went to his spots, and every time he was in the key, he got the foul, and was going to the free throw line to get even more into the rhythm. He did a lot of damage in the first quarter, he gave us a good start. In the second quarter, Bobby and I played pick-and-roll. We felt like they couldn’t really defend pick-and-roll with Gallinari or their bigs, so we just tried to see what they were going to do on pick-and-roll and adapt to from there. »
Then Portis and Middleton took over in the second quarter by scoring 14 and 13 points respectively to give the champions a 19-point lead.
“We just play basketball,” Portis says with a smile. “We play basketball, we have fun, we let the game come to us. We read the game and we react. If you are open you shoot, if the defender goes up you do the extra pass and you trust the system. ,Coach Bud has a good system that is easy to run, but you have to be able to shoot. It helps. »
The latter avoided this time the need to make a comeback, even if Atlanta returned to 2 possessions in the last quarter, within gunshot for the last 12 minutes. The Bucks have managed their business well and are only 2 games closer to the Heat, leading the Eastern Conference. The champions are clearly gaining momentum in this home stretch, with more convincing victories against the Heat, Suns and Bulls, before embarking on a road trip of 4 games, including a test on Saturday in San Francisco.
“I think we were confident as a team before this series, but I think we’re mostly building a lot of good habits,” Antetokounmpo said. ” We play together. We understand how to play late in the game. We understand how to make the delay screens and take rebounds, how to give the ball to Jrue or Khris to make plays. We feel good as a team. »
Via Journal Sentinel