Giannis After Bucks' Game 1 Win Over Celtics: 'I Thrive Through Physicality'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 1, 2022

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo plays against the Detroit Pistons in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Detroit, Friday, April 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Playoff basketball tends to present a far different challenge from the regular season. Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo relishes the general change in playing style.

"I thrive through physicality," he said after his team's 101-89 Game 1 victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday at TD Garden. "I love feeling beat up after games."

Bally Sports Wisconsin @BallySportWI

"I thrive through physicality. I love feeling beat up after the game." <br><br>Giannis Antetokounmpo after winning the physical matchup against the Celtics in Game 1. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FearTheDeer?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FearTheDeer</a> <a href="https://t.co/s89tovZb8A">pic.twitter.com/s89tovZb8A</a>

The final score illustrates how the games slow down and become more physical in the playoffs. The Bucks and Celtics averaged 115.5 and 111.8 points per game, respectively.

Antetokounmpo can expect to draw plenty of fouls, too, because that's one way to neutralize the two-time MVP a bit. He's a career 71.8 percent shooter from the charity stripe and went 6-of-11 on Sunday.

The 27-year-old isn't a historically poor foul shooter, but that's clearly one of the few weaknesses in his game.

In general, the Celtics did a pretty good job on Antetokounmpo, holding him to 9-of-25 shooting overall. Still, he finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. The Greek Freak also delivered the moment of the game with the alley-oop to himself.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

GIANNIS OFF THE BACKBOARD TO HIMSELF 🔥<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NBATV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBATV</a>)<a href="https://t.co/mpptZyofgX">pic.twitter.com/mpptZyofgX</a>

The road won't get any easier for Giannis and the Bucks.

The Celtics had the best defensive rating (106.2) in the regular season, per NBA.com, and they put the clamps on Kevin Durant in the first round. Durant's 38.6 percent clip from the field was his lowest since his first playoff trip in 2009-10.

Boston head coach Ime Udoka and his staff might already be hard at work tweaking their defensive game plan ahead of Game 2.

If his comments are any indicator, Antetokounmpo will be ready.