A few Milwaukee Bucks had nice performances against the Toronto Raptors in Game 1, but Giannis Antetokounmpo was far and away the best player on the floor.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was always going to have to carry the Milwaukee Bucks in the playoffs. With Jabari Parker out for the season and Khris Middleton enduring a shaky shooting stretch of late, the Bucks playoff hopes ride on Giannis playing like the star he’s been throughout the entirety of the 2016-17 regular season.
In Game 1, Giannis was everything Bucks fans could’ve hoped for. He scored 28 points to go along with eight rebounds, three assists, two steals, one block and just one turnover in his 38 minutes played.
Those stats are definitely impressive, but the manner in which Antetokounmpo scored so many of his points was bigger than numbers. The Toronto Raptors threw everything they could at the Greek Freak, and none of Toronto’s defenders could do much to stop him.
Giannis dunked on just about everybody that dared to guard him. All of his highlights stand out to a certain extent, but his dunk on Serge Ibaka was just plain mean.
Ibaka had positioning, and he’s one of the better rim protecters on the Raptors. It didn’t matter. More importantly, Giannis didn’t care. That’s the best part about the Playoff Giannis that was on display on Saturday.
It didn’t matter who or even how many Raptors defenders were in front of him–Giannis was confident and convinced he could score. He was right most of the time–Antetokounmpo scored his points on 13-for-18 shooting from the field.
The way Giannis took over against Toronto should have Bucks fans very excited about their team’s future–both in terms of coming years and coming weeks. If the teams are even enough, having the best player in the series can turn the tide in the NBA Playoffs.
With his performance all season and in Game 1, Giannis is looking like the second-best player in the Eastern Conference. That means the Bucks should have a shot against virtually any team, as long as Playoff Giannis continues to show up.
With extra days off between each game, playing the Greek Freak for 38 minutes is not a bad thing. Jason Kidd can even let Giannis play more than that, and he likely would’ve on Saturday were it not for foul trouble.
Giannis did not play his first playoff game against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday. The Bucks All-Star famously leveled Mike Dunleavy in his first-ever NBA Playoffs series back in 2015, back before he was hitting game-winners.
Thankfully for the Bucks, Giannis recorded more highlights than just an aggressive tackle in his second playoff series. The Greek Freak scored over 10 more points per game in the 2016-17 regular season than he did in the 2014-15 regular season, and that uptick in performance has extended to Playoff Giannis as well.
In six games back in 2015, Giannis averaged 11.5 points on an ugly 36.6 percent from the field. It’s safe to say he’s improved in the two years since, considering Antetokounmpo went from scoring 11.5 points on 11.8 shots to scoring 28 points on 18 shots.
The Milwaukee Bucks weren’t supposed to be good this year–not after losing both Parker and Middleton for roughly half of the season. Thanks to Playoff Giannis reaching new heights as a player, the ceiling is now the roof in Milwaukee.