MVP Race: Giannis Antetokounmpo Continues to Make His Case

Coming off of a 43-point performance against the Raptors on Saturday, Giannis Antetokounmpo will be looking to further make his case for MVP tonight against the Utah Jazz.

Plenty of teams are kicking into gear with the playoffs now looming. This Bucks team, though, has been absolutely dominant all season long thanks to coach Mike Budenholzer’s simple-yet-effective game plan and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s insanely efficient presence, mostly in the paint.

It’s a tight playoff race this season–several teams are neck and neck (some of them unexpectedly), and the Raptors and Bucks have been trading the top spot in the East for months–but the race for MVP may be even tighter. Giannis averages 26.5 points per game along with 12.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists, but his dynamism lies in his freakishly lengthy body and brute strength at the rim.

He’s added a 3-point shot to his repertoire this season as well, making him more of a threat than ever. He nailed 3 of 5 in the narrow loss against the Raptors–a big boost as he surged toward his eventual 43 points–and nabbed 18 rebounds on top of that. Physically, he’s the most dominant player in the game. But on top of that, his work ethic and skill have molded him into one of the best all-around players basketball has ever seen.

The Bucks have the second-best record in the NBA behind only the Toronto Raptors. The reason for that is Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Bucks Face the Jazz Tonight after Narrow Loss to Raptors

The Bucks will be heading into tonight’s matchup against the Jazz with a fire under them. They blew a lead and lost narrowly to the Toronto Raptors on Saturday–their only loss in their last six contests–and will be looking to get back on track at home against a struggling Jazz team. After entering the season with high hopes, the Jazz are barely at .500 since winning a recent back-to-back set against the Cavs and then the Pistons.

But the Cavs and Pistons are not even close to this Milwaukee team, and the Jazz will have to bring their very best against Giannis and the rest of the 27-11 Bucks. They’ll be missing bench players Dante Exum and Thabo Sefolosha, both of whom provide an always-needed boost off the bench, and the Bucks are all but entirely healthy. Heading into tonight’s matchup, here’s what the Bucks will be working with for their starting lineup.

Bucks Starting Lineup Against Utah Jazz

Giannis Antetokounmpo

GettyGiannis Antetokounmpo

PG: Eric Bledsoe
SG: Malcolm Brogdon
SF: Khris Middleton
PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo
C: Brook Lopez

There’s a lot of talk about Giannis, of course, but this roster is no joke. New head coach Mike Budenholzer has turned a great group into a nearly-undefeatable one by simply encouraging Giannis to go one-on-one and allowing his players to jack up threes at will. Playing to Giannis’s obvious strengths, coach Bud typically instructs center Brook Lopez to hang out at the corner three-point line, not near the basket, allowing Giannis to utilize his pure length and athleticism to get easy points (and lots of ’em).

It’s simple, and that’s not all there is to it, but it’s been the recipe for success for this Bucks team. If things keep going like they have been, they have a good chance of making it to The Finals. And if Giannis keeps leading them there, he’s all but won MVP.

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