Giannis Antetokounmpo: Celtics 'Definitely Play to the Limits' of Flagrant Fouls

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2019

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo looks to shoot past Boston Celtics' Aron Baynes during the first half of Game 2 of a second round NBA basketball playoff series Tuesday, April 30, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo offered a grudging respect to the Boston Celtics for their level of physicality through the first two games of their second-round NBA playoff series against Milwaukee.

"You can play to the limits of fouling," Antetokounmpo said Wednesday, per Yahoo SportsVincent Goodwill. "They definitely play to the limits of [flagrant] fouling. Now, you gotta f--king play. You can't complain to the refs; you gotta play."

Antetokounmpo's second remark could be read as a thinly veiled critique of the Houston Rockets.

Rockets star James Harden and head coach Mike D'Antoni voiced their frustrations with the officiating in the team's Game 1 loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Most likely, Antetokounmpo is merely referring to the fact that no amount of arguing with a referee will change his or her decision.

The stats—particularly those from Game 2—back up his assessment of Boston's approach. The Bucks averaged 23.2 foul shots per game in the regular season. They got to the line 24 times in their Game 1 defeat and then 31 times in their victory Tuesday. Antetokounmpo counted for 18 of those trips by himself.

Playing an aggressive style with the three-time All-Star is the right strategy.

According to Basketball ReferenceAntetokounmpo shot 76.9 percent from inside three feet, and those attempts accounted for 57.3 percent of his overall field goals. Meanwhile, he was a 72.9 percent free-throw shooter.

If Antetokounmpo gets the ball deep in the post or is driving with a clear path to the basket, fouling him hard and sending him to the line is better than giving up an inside shot.

The Greek Freak can expect more of the same over the rest of the series, so it's up to him and head coach Mike Budenholzer to find a way to force the Celtics to alter their approach.

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