Giannis on Centers Trying to Defend Him: 'That S--t ... Doesn't Work'

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistApril 5, 2019

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, left, tries to drive past Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

As NBA teams try to slow down Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, he is making it clear that putting a center on him is not the answer.

Antetokounmpo discussed his success against some of the league's top centers in speaking with The Athletic's Eric Nehm on Thursday:

"Now, they put the 4 man on Brook [Lopez]. So, the guy can be up with him and the guy that's guarding me stays back. So, they're basically daring me to shoot. They don't want Brook to shoot. It's kind of hard because if you put a center on me, he cannot stay in front of me easily.

"From what I've seen lately, they put DeAndre Jordan on me, they put [Rudy] Gobert, they put Joel [Embiid], they put Jarrett Allen. They just keep doing that s--t, but it doesn't work."

The NBA MVP candidate backed up his talk and then some Thursday night.

In a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview against Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers, Antetokounmpo went off for a ridiculous stat line of 45 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and five blocks.

That put his season average against Philadelphia at 43.0 points, 15.7 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 3.0 blocks per game.

Again, he's putting up those numbers against a team with one of the best big men in the league in Embiid. The Greek Freak gave the Sixers All-Star fits on both ends of the court, as ESPN Stats and Info pointed out:

"He's a hell of a player," Embiid said of Antetokounmpo, per Nehm. "Every time you go against him is a challenge, and he's really good. He doesn't talk back or whatever, he doesn't talk."

The 2013 15th overall pick is nearing the end of his finest season to date, averaging career highs in scoring (27.7), rebounding (12.5) and assists (5.9). Meanwhile, he has led Milwaukee (59-20) to the best record in the league and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

In February, Antetokounmpo offered insight into how to defend him, via Matt Velazquez of the Journal Sentinel:

"At the end of the day, I'm not trying to sound arrogant and cocky because that's not who I am, but I don't think there's one guy that can stop me. It's going to be a whole team effort. They've got to load, they've got to double-team me. When I get to the paint, three guys swarm at me. That's the only way. They've got to all work together to stop me from making playsnot getting points, from making plays."

Shutting down Antetokounmpo will become the top priority for opposing teams come playoff time. Nobody has managed to do it consistently to this point, but with a championship on the line, coaches will center their game plans on trying to contain the Bucks star.

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