PHOENIX – Two days after Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo’s spectacular stopper to Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton’s dunk attempt late in the fourth quarter of Game 4 of the NBA Finals, which helped To save the Milwaukee season, ‘The Greek Freak’ still can’t explain exactly how he was able to do it.
“It’s amazing what your body can do,” Antetokounmpo said Friday. “When you think about winning, you go to the extreme.
“I can’t explain the play. But, at the end of the day, that’s the past. When you talk about the past, it’s your ego that speaks. It’s in the past. It’s over.
“I have to keep going. I have to keep making winning plays. I have to keep competing. I have to keep finding ways to help my team be great. It was a great moment. We got it, now we have to keep going.”
The basketball world, on the other hand, has made little progress in the roughly 40 hours since Antetokounmpo’s lockout with 74 seconds left in Game 4, preserving Milwaukee’s two-point lead at the time and helping the Bucks equalize. the series to two games each, and he returns to Phoenix for Game 5 on Saturday night.
There have been comparisons to Andre Iguodala’s epic block from LeBron James in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, and debates over which one was the most impressive play, along with other great blocks from previous playoffs.
For Antetokounmpo, the focus is on something much more tangible: earning a victory in Game 5, which would allow Milwaukee a shot at its first championship in half a century with a victory at Fiserv Forum Tuesday night in Game 6.
It’s an approach that comes from past experiences and from learning about the dangers of feeling too good after a good performance.
“I think I would say life. Usually from my experience, when I think like, ‘Oh yeah, I did this, I’m so cool, I was 30, I was 10-25-10,’ whatever it is … General, the next day, you’re going to suck you know “Antetokounmpo said with a smile. “Simple as that. The next few days are going to be terrible.
“I discovered a mindset for when you focus on the past, that’s your ego. I did this. We were able to beat this team 4-0. I did this in the past. I won that in the past. When I focus on the future, it’s my pride. Yeah, next game, Game 5, I do this and this and this. I’m going to dominate, but that’s your pride to speak up.
“I try to focus on the moment, in the present. That is humility. That is being humble. That is not setting expectations. That is going out, enjoying the game, competing at a high level. I think I have had people throughout my life. life that helped me with that. But that’s a skill that I’ve tried, like, a little … to master. It’s been working until now, so I’m not going to stop. “
If Antetokounmpo’s game is any guide, he shouldn’t change much in his approach. Throughout the first four games of these NBA Finals, Antetokounmpo is averaging 32.3 points, 14.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists, and overall he has been able to get what he wanted.
Even in Game 4, after which he admitted he could have been more aggressive, he finished with 26 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, three steals and two blocks in 43 minutes.
More importantly for the Bucks, they have been able to come out of a 0-2 hole to start a playoff series for the second time this postseason and rebound from a series deficit for the third time in a row. In the past two postseason, the Bucks have faltered when challenged, first by the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals, then last year in the Eastern Conference Semifinals by the Miami Heat in the NBA bubble. .
So what has changed this time?
“I think we work very hard throughout the year to develop winning habits,” Antetokounmpo said. “Just all the games competing. I feel like when you compete all the games, you put yourself in a position to win.
“We don’t care about the result. We don’t care about the score. We just care about going out, making a lot of plays, competing as hard as we can, doing it together. Sometimes when you’re down 0-1 or 0-2 whichever Whatever the case, you don’t really care about that. You care how you can get one, how you can get a second. So, somehow, you gain momentum and good things happen.
“So I think we should give credit to all the winning habits that we build throughout the year so that we can know that when we are depressed, we still find ways to win games.”
After winning both games in Milwaukee to even the series, it is now up to the Bucks to find a way to steal one along the way and officially take control of the series in Game 5.
They will hope to do so if they stick to the same script that brought them back to this series, and the same script that has had them unearthed.