The Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo is still in awe of the block he made in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, but he’s ready to shift focus to Game 5.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is still awed by his block, but ready to shift focus to Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Read more in detail here: nba finals game 5.
8:06 p.m. Eastern
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps
PHOENIX, Ariz. — Giannis Antetokounmpo still hasn’t explained how he blocked Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton’s dunk attempt late in Game 4 of the NBA Finals two days ago.
Antetokounmpo said Friday, “It’s amazing what your body is capable of.” “When it comes to winning, you go to extremes.”
“I’m not sure how to describe the play.” But, at the end of the day, it’s history. It’s your ego talking when you speak about the past. It happened in the past. It’s finished.
“It was time for me to move on. I’ve got to keep making good decisions. It’s up to me to keep competing. I need to constantly looking for new methods to assist my team in becoming even better. This is a fantastic opportunity. I’m grateful for the opportunity. This is a fantastic opportunity. But, alas, we must go on.”
The basketball world, on the other hand, hasn’t moved much in the 40 hours since Antetokounmpo’s 74-second rejection in Game 4 preserved Milwaukee’s two-point lead and helped the Bucks even the series at two games each as it moves back to Milwaukee for Game 5 on Saturday night.
There have been parallels to LeBron James’ spectacular block of Andre Iguodala’s layup in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, and arguments continue about which of them, along with other famous blocks from previous finals, was the most remarkable move.
For Antetokounmpo, the emphasis is on a far more concrete goal: winning Game 5, which would give Milwaukee the chance to win its first title in a half-century with a win in Game 6 at Fiserv Forum on Tuesday night.
It’s a strategy based on previous experiences and lessons learned about the dangers of feeling too happy after a great performance.
“I guess I’d say life,” Antetokounmpo said with a grin. “Usually, when I think about like, ‘Oh, yeah, I did this, I’m so amazing, I had 30, I had 25-10-10,’ whatever the case may be, the following day, you’re going to stink, you know?” “It’s as simple as that; you’re going to feel awful for the next several days.”
“I devised a mentality that says, ‘When you concentrate on the past, that’s your ego.’ This was done by myself. We were able to defeat this squad by a score of 4-0. This is something I’ve done before. That’s something I’ve won before.’ It’s my pride when I concentrate on the future: ‘Yeah, next game, Game 5, I’ll do this, this, and this.’ ‘I’m going to be the boss.’ That’s your ego at work. It isn’t going to happen. You’ve come to the correct place.
“I make an effort to stay in the present moment. That is what humility is all about. That’s what it means to be humble. That isn’t the same as not having any expectations. That means getting out there and having fun while competing at a high level. I believe I’ve had individuals in my life that have assisted me with this. But it is a talent that I have attempted to perfect. I’m not going to quit since it’s been working so far.”
If Antetokounmpo’s performance is any indication, he won’t be altering anything about his approach. Antetokounmpo is averaging 32.3 points, 14.0 rebounds, and 5.5 assists through the first four games of the NBA Finals, and he’s gotten pretty much everything he’s asked for.
He had 26 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, three steals, and two blocks in 43 minutes in Game 4, after which he acknowledged he should have been more aggressive.
For the second time in these playoffs, the Bucks have been able to dig themselves out of a 0-2 hole to start a playoff series, and they have recovered from a series deficit for the third time. The Bucks have struggled in the last two postseasons, losing to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals in 2019 and the Miami Heat in the conference semifinals last year on the NBA’s bubble.
So, what’s different this time?
“I believe we worked really hard all year to develop winning habits,” Antetokounmpo said. “Every game is competing.” When you compete in every game, I believe you put yourself in a position to win.
“We are unconcerned about the result.” We are unconcerned with the score. We just care about going out there, making a lot of plays, competing as hard as we can, and doing it as a team. When you’re down 0-1 or 0-2, whatever the situation may be, you don’t give a damn. You’re concerned with how you can get one, and then a second. Then you start to get traction and wonderful things start to happen.
“So I think we have to thank all of the winning habits we’ve developed throughout the year for our ability to recognize that even when we’re down, we can still find ways to win games.”
The Bucks must now find a way to steal one on the road in Game 5 to formally seize control of the series after winning both games in Milwaukee to even the series.
They aim to do so by adhering to the same playbook that brought them back into this series — and that has allowed them to come back from numerous deficits to advance in these playoffs.
Bucks guard Khris Middleton said, “Same concentration, same purpose we’ve had this entire run.” “Stay focused, play the game the correct way, compete, and play as hard as we possibly can. That is all there is to it.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo is still awed by the block he made in the fourth quarter of Game 4, but he’s ready to shift focus to Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Reference: nba finals schedule.
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