MILWAUKEE – For eight years, Giannis Antetokounmpo has worked with the intention of enjoying the moment, and where are the Milwaukee Bucks now? One win from winning the NBA championship.
This is why it should come as no surprise that with less than 24 hours of playing the biggest game of his career, with the opportunity to win the title in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at home against the Phoenix Suns, Antetokounmpo admitted that the The mantra that has been repeated in the Playoffs of staying focused on the present and not thinking about the future is harder for him to fulfill than ever.
“It is difficult, because you work hard to be at that moment, which is tomorrow (Tuesday). It’s hard not to think about what could happen, ”Antetokounmpo acknowledged.
“However, this is the time when one should be more disciplined. It is what I will try to do. I will try to be as disciplined as possible, not to get too excited, not to be too nervous about the game. Nothing of that. Right now, right now (Monday), I can’t play so I try not to think about him, but it’s really hard not to. Sometimes you go to sleep and dream about the game ”.
“But this is the time when we individually have to be disciplined and we can’t worry about plans to celebrate. None of that until it is achieved and it is the mentality that I will have until tomorrow ”, he added.
Staying calm and focused on the moment are key components that the Bucks collectively, and Antetokounmpo individually, say they have not had in their previous playoff appearances in recent seasons.
This was the particular case two seasons ago, when Milwaukee, after reaching the postseason with the first seed in the Eastern Conference, collapsed in losses to the Toronto Raptors in the conference finals and to the Miami Heat in the semifinals last season.
Either way, this season, the Bucs have been determined to face things differently, despite falling behind in each of their last three Playoff series 2-0 against the Brooklyn Nets in the East and East semifinals. Against the Suns in the Finals, Milwaukee has managed to do just that.
The Bucks have done it too, in part because their leader has been able to do it by staying true to his mantra of staying in the moment, enjoying the competition, and letting the results happen when they are due.
“We didn’t go too high, we didn’t go too low. We were down 0-2 against Brooklyn. We came back. We did our job. (In the Finals) we were down. We came back, we did our job, ”said Antetokounmpo. “We were down against Atlanta (in the conference finals). We went back, we did our job. We were up against Miami. We went to his house and did our work.
“We stayed focused, creating good habits and having that mindset comes from the coach (Mike Budenholzer), Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, from me and then you pass it on to the whole team. So we did a great job.
“Now, will everything end well in the championship? We don’t know, but no matter how it ends, I’m really proud of this team, really proud of the work we’ve done, ”added the Bucks star.
Antetokounmpo, who revealed during Monday’s press conference that his girlfriend is expecting the couple’s second baby, has been relaxed and in good spirits in his press sessions, whether on practice days or after wins or losses.
That same atmosphere has permeated the Bucs, who have shown character in situations that, in the past, would have sent them spiraling and ultimately sent home without meeting their goals.
It’s a mindset Milwaukee hopes to capitalize on in what will be a long 24 hours before the start of Game 6 on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET).
“Treat the game like every regular season game, every playoff game. Take one game at a time and it’s a must to win every game. It’s all, “Middleton said.