Giannis Antetokounmpo Admits Bucks ‘Haven’t Grown’ Playing Vs. Celtics

Boston's switch-heavy defense has proven effective


Dec 26, 2022

It’s hard to imagine, but Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo actually finished with the worst plus-minus rating out of all players in the loss to the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day.

The Celtics limited the two-time NBA MVP to 27 points on 9-for-22 (40.9%) shooting from the field to go along with nine rebounds and three assists. Antetokounmpo also had an eye-popping minus-27 rating.

Antetokounmpo seemed frustrated with his performance, which is maybe why he lashed out at Jaylen Brown late in the fourth quarter. He was also down on Milwaukee’s offensive production as a whole, believing the Bucks haven’t shown any improvement on that end against a Celtics squad that knocked them out of the playoffs this past spring.

“We haven’t grown,” Antetokounmpo told reporters following the 139-118 defeat, per the Athletic’s Eric Nehm. “We lost the game. So, we gotta still work on it. We’re not good at it. Gotta go back, work on it, watch the tape. Try to improve, try to figure out ways to score the ball, try to be effective against them, try to figure out ways to play against the switch.”

Boston’s switch-heavy defense has proven effective against the Bucks and their superstar. The Celtics also aren’t afraid of getting physical with the 6-foot-11, 242-pound six-time All-Star and build up a defensive wall to prevent easy trips to the basket.

That’s obviously much easier said than done, but with athletic and versatile big men like Al Horford and Grant Williams, the Celtics have the personnel needed to make things just a little more difficult for Antetokounmpo.

“We’re fortunate to have great matchups for (Antetokounmpo),” Celtics interim coach Joe Mazzulla said. “Between Al, Grant, Blake (Griffin), Malcolm (Brogdon), (Marcus) Smart, our whole team, really. We’re fortunate to have the ability to throw some different guys at him.”

Antetokounmpo has plenty of time for the loss against the Celtics to stew inside as the two sides don’t meet again until a Feb. 14 matchup in Milwaukee.

And that meeting will provide Antetokounmpo an opportunity again to assess any growth on the part of the Bucks.

Thumbnail photo via Gregory Fisher/USA TODAY Sports Images
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