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#pounditThursday, January 20, 2022

Articles tagged: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo thinks he can be playing more minutes

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Milwaukee Bucks are now on the brink of elimination, and Giannis Antetokounmpo feels like he can be doing more for the team.

After the Bucks fell into an 0-3 hole after Friday’s loss to the Miami Heat, the reigning MVP was asked about his minutes, which have been a topic of discussion all series.

“I feel great,” said Antetokounmpo, per Matt Velasquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Yeah, I could play more.”

Antetokounmpo’s minutes during the second-round series have been rather suspect. He played 37 in Game 1, 36 in Game 2, and 35 in Game 3. That is certainly an oddity, especially in the playoffs where superstars regularly log 40-plus minutes every single game.

The 25-year-old did suffer an apparent ankle tweak during Friday’s contest. But the Bucks are one loss away from getting swept, and Antetokounmpo is their leader. Thus, there is no reason he should not be logging heavy minutes if he feels physically able to do so.

Giannis Antetokounmpo playing through ankle injury against Heat?

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks have been struggling in the playoffs against the Miami Heat, and now there are questions about whether the reigning NBA MVP is playing hurt.

During the fourth quarter of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series between the teams on Friday, the TNT announcers wondered whether Antetokounmpo was dealing with an injury.

TNT showed a video of Antetokounmpo rolling his right ankle midway through the first quarter. Then they noted the way Giannis grimaced after coming down from a dunk in the fourth quarter.

Antetokounmpo’s minutes have been a topic of conversation since the team fell behind 2-0 in the series. He said he would play more minutes if his coach wanted him to. In Game 3, he played fewer minutes than Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, which makes little sense, other than the injury explanation.

With his team down 2-0, you would figure Antetokounmpo would play as many minutes as possible, yet he was sitting during important minutes in the fourth quarter. The results of the series — and Antetokounmpo’s minutes — are nothing short of surprising.

Report: Heat, Raptors considered frontrunners to sign Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Miami Heat are two wins away from pulling off an upset over the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. Losing the series would be tough for the Bucks to swallow, but the long-term impact of an early playoff exit could be even greater.

As Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports phrased it, the Heat’s impressive showing thus far against Milwaukee could wind up being an excellent recruiting pitch. Miami has kept Giannis from exploding the same way the Toronto Raptors did in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. That’s one of the main reasons Goodwill was told by a source in the Orlando bubble that the Heat and Raptors are considered by many to be the frontrunners to sign Antetokounmpo if he becomes a free agent after next season.

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer has been outsmarted by his counterpart Erik Spoelstra in the first two games of the series. That, of course, is the same Erik Spoelstra who won championships with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He now appears to be getting the most out of Jimmy Butler, and that track record has to impress Antetokounmpo.

Giannis has said all of the right things about wanting to stay in Milwaukee, and the Bucks will be able to offer him an astronomical amount of money this offseason. However, it is no secret that Giannis wants to win, and many have speculated that he will be more likely to leave Milwaukee if the Bucks come up short this season.

A lot can change in the span of a few games, and the Bucks certainly aren’t dead and buried yet. Antetokounmpo may have to make an uncomfortable adjustment for Milwaukee to turn things around. If the Bucks do end up losing the series, the possibility of Giannis leaving Milwaukee will become an even more popular discussion.

Isaiah Thomas critical of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s passive defense

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo is drawing some criticism from one of his former competitors in the Eastern Conference.

Former All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas sent a tweet Tuesday bashing the Milwaukee Bucks star for his passive defense to start the team’s second-round series. Antetokounmpo, the newly-crowned Defensive Player of the Year, noticeably did not defend Miami Heat counterpart Jimmy Butler as Butler took over in the fourth to win Monday’s Game 1. After the game, Antetokounmpo was not pleased with a reporter who brought up the issue.

Thomas wrote that it was Antetokounmpo’s job to take that assignment as the leader and the DPOY. He said that players like Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, and Kawhi Leonard would have accepted the job.

Granted, Antetokounmpo has a big load to carry on offense as well, unlike the players Thomas mentioned (with the exception of Leonard). Taking the reporter’s bait might have also led to Antetokounmpo indicating doubt in head coach Mike Budenholzer’s defensive gameplan.

In any case, the Bucks need to make a big adjustment to get their series back on track. Antetokounmpo now very well may see more time checking Butler. He also now knows that the spotlight on him will be even more intense after his latest award.

Giannis Antetokounmpo open to guarding Jimmy Butler

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Jimmy Butler erupted for 40 points in the Miami Heat’s win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night. Some wondered if Giannis Antetokounmpo should have been guarding Butler late in the fourth quarter, and Giannis was asked about that after the game.

He seems open to it.

A reporter asked Antetokounmpo after the game if he wanted to guard Butler in the fourth quarter. Giannis said he didn’t ask Mike Budenholzer to give him the assignment, but “The Greek Freak” is willing do whatever the Bucks coach asks of him.

Giannis is 6-foot-11 compared to Butler’s 6-foot-7. You can understand why Antetokounmpo would ideally be used elsewhere on defense for Milwaukee, but they can’t let Butler catch fire the way he did in Game 1. The Heat star abused the Bucks late in the game.

Butler was so good that even Joel Embiid appeared to take a shot at the Philadelphia 76ers over the performance. Unless the Bucks change something defensively, the Heat could pull off the big upset in the Eastern Conference semifinals series.

Video: Shaq tried to speak Greek to Giannis Antetokounmpo and left him so confused

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Shaq tried a little something extra to relate to Giannis Antetokounmpo on Tuesday, and it did not go well.

Antetokounmpo joined TNT to accept the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. Shaquille O’Neal tried to congratulate him by speaking in Greek, but his lack of command of the language left Giannis confused.

Take a look at the video of Giannis’ reaction to Shaq.

Even if Shaq’s Greek leaves a lot to be desired, he should still be praised for getting the Bucks star’s last name right.

Antetokounmpo won NBA MVP last year and this year won Defensive Player of the Year for the first time in his career. He looks likely to capture MVP for the second year in a row, too. Now he’s trying to lead his Milwaukee Bucks to the championship.

ESPN reporter explains controversial reason for voting LeBron MVP over Giannis

LeBron James

Many people view Giannis Antetokounmpo as worthy of winning his second straight NBA MVP award, but ESPN reporter Ramona Shelburne says she voted for LeBron James instead.

Why did Shelburne vote for James? She shared her reason during a Tuesday appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump.”

“I did not vote for [Giannis Antetokounmpo] for MVP. I voted for LeBron James because I tend to be more of a narrative-based voter. I feel like LeBron James took a Lakers team that had missed the playoffs six years in a row up to the stop spot in the West after all the dysfunction the summer before. So I think he gets credit for that as well,” Shelburne explained.

Shelburne’s explanation mostly centers around preferring the story of what James has done over the story of what Antetokounmpo has done.

That’s tough for many to accept when Antetokounmpo is ascending and averaging a career-high 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 1.4 three-pointers made per game. He’s also averaging 5.6 assists, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals per game for Milwaukee, which maintains the best record in the NBA.

James is leading the league with 10.3 assists per game but trails Giannis in every other statistical category, including team record. One could also argue that Anthony Davis’ arrival is more responsible for the Lakers’ turnaround than anything else. Comparatively, the Bucks lost Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic and still have posted an even better winning percentage this season.

An unofficial tracker seems to show Antetokounmpo will win the MVP award for the second year in a row, with James finishing a distant second. Shelburne would be one of a few voters to rank James ahead of the Bucks star this year. Giannis is probably more focused on something else anyway.

Giannis Antetokounmpo receives one-game suspension for headbutt

Giannis Antetokounmpo headbutt

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s headbutt on Moe Wagner will ultimately cost him the final seeding game of the season.

Antetokounmpo will receive a one-game suspension for headbutting Wagner, as first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. That means he’ll sit out the Milwaukee Bucks’ game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.

Antetokounmpo’s absence could impact the Western Conference playoff race. The Grizzlies will need to beat the Bucks in order to qualify for the play-in game as either the eighth or ninth seed. Antetokounmpo’s absence for Milwaukee could be significantly beneficial for the Grizzlies in that scenario.

The MVP candidate chalked his actions up to frustration after Tuesday’s game, which saw him ejected for the headbutt. It will cost him an extra game as well, but the good news for Antetokounmpo is it’s a functionally meaningless contest from Milwaukee’s point of view.

Wizards’ Rui Hachimura comes close to calling Giannis Antetokounmpo dirty

Giannis Antetokounmpo headbutt

Giannis Antetokounmpo was ejected from Tuesday night’s game between the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards, and one of his opponents did not seem surprised by the act that got “The Greek Freak” thrown out.

Antetokounmpo was called for a charge while driving into Washington’s Moe Wagner in the second quarter. The two began jawing back and forth, and Giannis then threw a hard headbutt at Wagner and was ejected. After the game, Wizards forward Rui Hachimura said Giannis is “good at those little things” and stopped just short of labeling him a dirty player.

Of course, Antetokounmpo said after the game that he lost his cool because he was tired of “dirty plays” from the Wizards. He also admitted that the headbutt was a “terrible” act and said he regrets it.

The only way to slow Giannis down is to be extremely physical with him, and that often results in tempers boiling over. We saw an example of that recently when he was restrained from going after an opponent, but the headbutt crossed the line.

Giannis Antetokounmpo explains his headbutt on Moe Wagner

Giannis Antetokounmpo headbutt

Giannis Antetokounmpo was ejected from Tuesday night’s Milwaukee Bucks-Washington Wizards game for headbutting an opponent, and he’s sharing his side of what happened.

Leading up to the headbutt, Antetokounmpo was called for a charge while driving into Washington’s Moe Wagner in the second quarter. He later walked up to Wagner and headbutted him hard. He was called for a flagrant 2 foul and ejected from the game.

So what was going through Antetokounmpo’s head? He said he was frustrated with all the punishment he had been taking, and it culminated with that blowup.

“I don’t think I was frustrated with Wagner. I think it was just the whole, like, buildup of dirty plays in my mind, you know, guys tripping me, guys falling in front of my feet, holding me, hitting me,” Antetokounmpo told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Matt Velazquez.

“It wasn’t just – I don’t have nothing against Wagner, it wasn’t just him. It was just, like, in my mind all these games I’ve played guys hitting me so I lost it for a second.”

Antetokounmpo’s frustration is understandable, but his reaction was unacceptable. He knows that, which is why he said it was a “terrible” action and something he wishes he could undo. The Bucks star ended up playing just 10 minutes and had 12 points and nine rebounds in the game. Milwaukee still won 126-113 playing without him for much of the contest.