X

Bucks Rally Around Giannis Antetokounmpo's 'Competitive Drive,' George Hill Says

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 8, 2020

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) celebrates the team's win over the Orlando Magic with guard George Hill (3) and center Robin Lopez (42) in an NBA basketball first round playoff game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

A quick look at Giannis Antetokounmpo's production makes his impact on the floor clear. Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill explained how his contributions go deeper than the raw numbers.

During Monday's media availability, Hill said Antetokounmpo was having an effect on Milwaukee's Game 4 victory over the Miami Heat despite missing the bulk of the contest with a sprained ankle:

"His competitive drive makes us all better. He's giving us everything he has. Even on one wheel, he's trying to give us all he's got. Crazy part like yesterday when he twists his ankle again for the second time and he's laying on the floor, and the competitive nature kicks in and we go over there and the first thing he said was, 'I should have dunked it.' That just shows, you know, he's trying to lay it all out in line for us, and we got to do the same for him. So we rally around that. He gives us that competitive drive, that competitive spirit. We just try to build off that."

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Giannis congratulating the Bucks after the win in Game 4. https://t.co/5XFphnXjgU

As much as Antetokounmpo can provide an emotional lift from the bench, the Bucks' best chance of survival comes with him actually playing.

Khris Middleton was excellent Sunday, finishing with 36 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Maybe he can do that again in Game 5 if Antetokounmpo's ankle injury is serious enough to keep him out, but that's putting a lot on his shoulders.

There's also the fact the Heat appear to have a clear edge in coaching. Whereas Erik Spoelstra is playoff-tested, Mike Budenholzer continues to be his own worst enemy in the postseason. You'd expect Spoelstra to have a counter for whatever a Giannis-less Bucks lineup might throw at the Heat.

No team has ever advanced from a 3-0 deficit in the NBA playoffs, so things aren't looking great for Milwaukee. Were Antetokounmpo to return for Game 5 and torch Miami, it would potentially be the emotional lift the Bucks need to ignite a historic comeback.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.