A playoff-stumble in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals and some haterade from journalists such as myself won’t stop Greek Freak and his Milwaukee Bucks from staying focused on what some folks are calling a “championship run.”
Milwaukee won an Eastern Conference-high 60 regular season games for a reason. The playoffs are indeed a different ball game, but the Bucks’ 123-102 Game 2 bounce back was the kind of response a championship team delivers after a 112-90 loss at home. The win changes the complextion of the series and sets up a critical Game 3 on Friday night.
Giannis & the @Bucks took care of business in Game 2! 🦌 #NBAPlayoffs https://t.co/gpSUyfLJof
Greek Freak has been “unstoppable” this season from the 3-point line in, but in Game 1, he managed just 22 points and shot 7-for-21, well below the 57.8 percent he shot from the field during the regular season. The Celtics had his number and it appeared as if he had James Harden syndrome. You know, when superstars lose their games and eventually their minds under the pressure, physicality, defensive intensity, and urgency of the playoffs.
Celtics did a good job defending when Giannis was a roller in Game 1. A little different so far. Watch the weakside, in Game 1 both Celtics were pulled over. Game 2 they are hugging and running to help. Pocket pass to Giannis/skip to shooter is there. https://t.co/adjXss5il2
The NBA doesn’t need another MVP, who cowers to the playoff challenge. Greek Freak doesn’t seem like the kind of baller who backs down from anyone. We knew this when he told LeBron and the Banana Boat crew that he wasn’t interested in working out with them last summer.
During the summer, All-Stars such as Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard worked out with LeBron James at UCLA. While other elite players like Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Harden, and other elite caliber players have participated in workouts with Carmelo Anthony over the summer in at the Lifetime Athletic Sky gym in New York City.
“I can’t work out with you in the summer and then play you in a few months,” Antetokounmpo told Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “It feels weird. It doesn’t feel right with me. Like other players, it’s cool for other players, but I don’t. I don’t want to. Other guys do it.”
“I hate it when…” Antetokounmpo said… “I hate that. I don’t want [opponents] to see me to be buddy-buddy with me.
The 25-year-old native of Greece has continuously said he’s opposed to Super Teams or any type of fraternizing with the opposition. He wouldn’t even accept LeBron’s invitation to make an appearance in Space Jam 2.
Evan Turner calls for role in LeBron James’ Space Jam 2 after Giannis Antetokounmpo turns it down #Blazers #Lakers #Bucks https://t.co/f25ILKHbYI
With a demeanor and a game that is so old school, you had to know that Antetonkoupo would show that throwback grit and come harder in Game 2, which he certainly did by scoring 29 points, pulling 10 boards and sinking a couple of treys.
The series is even at 1-1 and we haven’t even seen the best of Greek Freak yet. We don’t know the outcome, but we do know that he’s not going to make excuses, blame the refs, back down to the challenge or show mercy to anyone wearing another uniform. He exemplifies the competitive nature of the sport and it’s hard not to believe that he will find a way to get this series to seven games despite the edge in talent and playoff experience that the Celtics poses