NBA

NBA playoffs 2021: Giannis wants Bucks to 'keep getting better' after sweep of Heat

By Sports Desk May 29, 2021

Giannis Antetokounmpo knows the Milwaukee Bucks can beat the teams a variety of ways, and they had to take the hard road Saturday. 

The Miami Heat held the Bucks' top two scorers without a field goal in the first quarter of Game 4, but Milwaukee pushed through that early adversity and prevailed 120-103 to sweep the first-round NBA playoff series. 

Khris Middleton finally got on the board early in the second quarter and the Greek star went without a basket from the field until a dunk with one minute to play in the second quarter, but Antetokounmpo said his team never lost patience even when their shots failed to fall. 

"At the end of the day, nothing's going to be easy. It's a game that's win or go home for them," he said.

"Obviously they're going to play extremely hard, they're going to try to be physical, they're going to try to get us out of our spots.

"But at the end of the day, as players you're going to have games that you're going to come, you're going to score the ball right off the bat. There's going to be days that you're not going to do that.

"Today was one of those days that we couldn't score the ball right off the bat but at the end of the day we keep finding one another, keep facilitating, keep playing the right way. For me and for Khris, that's what we both did.

"Obviously they did a great job guarding us and just making it tough for us, but it did not really test our patience, because what we do, we keep playing the right way, we keep finding one another."

Antetokounmpo turned in a career-best 15 assists on the way to his first playoff triple-double, adding 20 points and 12 rebounds as the Bucks out-scored the Heat 64-39 in the second half. 

But he left most of the scoring load to others this time, as Brook Lopez led the way with 25 points, Middleton had 20, and Bryn Forbes scored 22 off the bench. 

"I try to affect the game in any way I can," Antetokounmpo said.

"I'm blessed enough that I can affect the game defensively, I can pass the ball.

"There's days I'm going to be dominant, and I'm mature enough to understand that there's days I'm going to be able to do it and there's days I'm not going to be able to do it."

Thanks to their first-round sweep, Milwaukee will have a week off before the next round, where they were eliminated 4-1 by the Bucks last season. 

Antetokounmpo and his teammates want more this year, and they know this was just the start. 

"We've got to keep getting better. We have a week now to recover and rest our bodies and get better," he said.

Obviously we don't know who we're playing yet. We're going to try to focus on ourselves as much as possible. 

"Not trying to take anything away from this moment -- obviously it's a great moment for us, winning 4-0 and beating the team that beat us last year. It feels good. But at the end of the day, we've got a long way to go. Gotta stay humble."

Related items

  • Mavericks believe 'brilliant' Doncic will bounce back in Game 2 Mavericks believe 'brilliant' Doncic will bounce back in Game 2

    The Dallas Mavericks have faith in Luka Doncic to put a disappointing Game 1 behind him when they meet the Golden State Warriors again on Friday.

    Mavs superstar Doncic was tightly marshalled by the Warriors on Wednesday, with the Slovenian only managing 20 points on six-of-18 shooting.

    Andrew Wiggins was the primary defender on Doncic, who had seven turnovers and was also limited to seven rebounds and four assists in a 112-87 defeat.

    However, team-mate Spencer Dinwiddie has full confidence that one of the best players in the NBA has the ability to be back at his best in Game 2.

    "He's just brilliant. I think he's seen every defense from probably playing professionally overseas when he was younger," Dinwiddie told reporters.

    "If you've seen it before, you've probably developed counters for it.

    "So, now, it's just about continuing to improve game by game, and he's one of the best in the business at doing that."

    The sentiment was echoed by Mavs coach Jason Kidd, who said: "[Doncic] understands what [the Warriors] are trying to do, and he'll be better, we believe that in that locker room."

    Doncic was still the second-highest scorer in Game 1, behind only Warriors talisman Stephen Curry, who had 21 points, 12 rebounds and four assists.

  • Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley and Scottie Barnes headline NBA All-Rookie First Team Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley and Scottie Barnes headline NBA All-Rookie First Team

    The NBA All-Rookie teams were unveiled on Wednesday, headlined by Rookie of the Year finalists Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley and winner Scottie Barnes in the All-Rookie First Team.

    Joining the trio – who were all unanimous selections – on the First Team were Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner and Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green.

    Cunningham, Green, Mobley and Barnes were the first four picks of the 2021 NBA Draft, while Wagner was the eighth selection.

    They were also the only five rookies to average at least 15 points per game this season, putting a gap between themselves and sixth-highest scorer Chris Duarte at 13.1 points per game. It is the first time since at least 1985 that all five members of the All-Rookie First Team have each averaged at least 15 points per game.

    The All-Rookie Second Team was made up of first-rounders Josh Giddey (sixth selection), Duarte (13th selection) and Bones Hyland (26th), as well as a pair of second-round picks in Herb Jones (35th) and Ayo Dosunmu (38th).

    Orlando will have the number one pick of the 2022 NBA Draft, followed by the Oklahoma City Thunder and then the Rockets.

  • 'I still take pride in my defense' – Klay Thompson defends reputation after Warriors' blowout win 'I still take pride in my defense' – Klay Thompson defends reputation after Warriors' blowout win

    Golden State Warriors wing Klay Thompson emphasised that it all starts on the defensive end, while highlighting the performance of Andrew Wiggins after his side's 112-87 Game 1 blowout of the Dallas Mavericks.

    The Warriors had seven players score in double-figures, led by Stephen Curry with a game-high 21 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, along with tying for the game-high with four assists.

    While the Warriors' offense was strong, shooting 56.1 per cent from the field, it was their defense that won them the game, holding the Mavericks to 18 points in the first quarter and igniting a 15-4 run to start the third.

    A main talking point from the series opener was the impressive performance of Andrew Wiggins, scoring 19 points while being the primary defender on Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic, holding him to 20 points on six-of-18 shooting with seven turnovers.

    Speaking after the game, Thompson discussed the narrative that he is not the defender he once was and what he thinks makes the Warriors defense so good.

    "I think our length, starting with Andrew [Wiggins] – he was moving them puppies tonight," he said.

    "I still take pride in my defense, no matter what people say about if I've 'lost it' or not, I still think I'm a very good defender. Steph is in the [passing] lanes, obviously Draymond [Green], we can count on him every night on that side of the ball.

    "I don't really pay attention to the noise [about criticism of his defense] – I know what I'm capable of, and I know what my team-mates are capable of. I knew we were able to do what we did tonight – it was just going to take a lot of focus and trusting each other.

    "I'm trying. It's hard. Marking the best player every night for 40 minutes is not easy, and going to get buckets on the other end, but it's something I love to do. 

    "All the best two-guards to ever play the game played both sides of the ball – whether it was Mike [Jordan], Kobe [Bryant], [Dwyane Wade], guys I really idolised as a kid – they all competed on that side, so I just try to follow the same mould."

    Thompson went on to touch on the mediocre performance from Doncic, before showering Wiggins with further praise, saying he is happy people are finally seeing "who he really is".

    "Luka is obviously one of the best players in the world," he said. "It didn't help that they played two days ago, off that emotional high of winning a Game 7, so we expect them to come back with a much better effort on Friday. 

    "That's why [Wiggins] was the number one pick [of the 2014 NBA Draft]. You can't teach that athleticism, you can't teach that length or his timing. 

    "I'm just happy the world is getting to see who he really is – an incredible wing player – and he will be like this for the next 10 years.

    "I think him being here, he's allowed to be himself. We have so many great, talented players that it can be somebody's night and the ball will find them. 

    "Andrew was incredible tonight, I can't say enough good things about him. 

    "He makes my job so much easier, I don't have to check the best player every night – after what I've been through, that's a nice change of pace. He doesn't seem to get tired, his outside shot has greatly improved, and he's just coming into his own.

    "It's just one game, and we can feel good now, but [the Mavericks] were down 2-0 and won their series last round."

    Warriors coach Steve Kerr echoed Thompson's sentiments about Wiggins.

    "I thought [Wiggins] was fantastic," he said. "Doncic is as difficult a cover as there is in this league, and we just asked Wiggs to try to hound him and guard him as best as he could. 

    "He did a fantastic job – Wiggs is just a huge part of our defense and our team. I thought he was great offensively as well, so great night for Andrew."

    When asked about the job the Warriors defense did on him, Doncic was respectful but had little to add.

    "They did a great job – that's it, that's all I have to say. They did a great job," he said. 

    "It's one game, that's what the playoffs is about. Whether you lose by one or you lose by 40, it's a loss, so we just have to get ready for Game 2 now."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.