The Greek Freak capped off his remarkable season this year by breaking a few records. Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with career highs in every major stat: points (22.9), rebounds (8.8), assists (5.4), steals (1.6) and blocks (1.9). He also is the Bucks’ leader in each of these stats, making him one of just five players to ever do lead his team in each of the five major statistics, the last being LeBron James in 2008. He also finished in the league’s top 20 in each category, making him the first player in NBA history to do so.
After clinching a playoff berth on last week with a win over the 76ers, Antetokounmpo said, “We aren’t going to be fun to play in the playoffs, because we have nothing to lose.” This could not be more true. While the Greek Freak may lead statistically in every category, they still have many dangerous pieces that could make them a threat to make a decent run in the playoffs. Young guns like Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon have stepped up for Milwaukee, while the Bucks have also gotten help from veterans like Michael Beasley and Spencer Hawes. The team has a solid blend of role players and star power that can give it a chance to make a splash in the playoffs.
Milwaukee’s first test in the playoffs will come against the No. 3 seed Toronto Raptors, which will be a huge litmus test of its resiliency. The Bucks are just 1-3 against the Raptors this season, but they did the most recent matchup in March. If they manage to get through Toronto in the first round the sky is the limit: the Raptors are one of the youngest and most electrifying teams in the NBA, having just finished its second straight 50-win season. However, Milwaukee stands a chance for a few reasons.
Toronto is definitely a contender for a deep run, but do the Raptors have anyone that can guard Antetokounmpo? DeMarre Carroll is likely going to assume that role, but it may take more than Carroll to slow down the Greek Freak. Also, starting point guard Kyle Lowry has only recently come back from wrist surgery. Will Lowry be able to rekindle the chemistry that he and DeRozan had before the All-Star break, or will they struggle and give the Bucks a chance to sneak past them? In the last meeting between Milwaukee and Toronto on March 4, the Bucks were able to hold DeRozan to just 10 points in the 101-94 win. Shutting DeRozan down would be huge for Milwaukee, because the Raptors don’t have anyone else to turn to that can produce the same kinds of numbers that he does.
Antetokounmpo and the Bucks will take on the Raptors in Toronto starting with Game 1 on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN.
Edited by Quinn Pilkey
Featured image by Keith Allison, courtesy of Creative Commons