Two-time MVP. One-time Defensive Player of the Year. One-time NBA champion. One-time Finals MVP. NBA All-75 Team. Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the best players in the history of the league. And now, the Boston Celtics will have the pleasure of taking on him and the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals, which start May 1.
But to Antetokounmpo, the Celtics appear to be just another team.
After the Bucks’ Game 5 win over the Chicago Bulls, Antetokounmpo was asked to explain what about the Celtics impresses him. He said that he knows nothing about the Celtics, saying he doesn’t follow the sport on TV.
“I don’t watch basketball. I haven’t watched Boston. … I don’t know what they’ve done,” he said. “But I know that they’re the team we’re playing. I’ve heard the guys talk about it in the locker room.”
The Celtics are coming off a four-game sweep of the Brooklyn Nets, and the Bucks swiftly took care of the Chicago Bulls in five games. In Milwaukee’s series, Antetokounmpo averaged 28.6 points, 13.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists while shooting 56.8% from behind the three-point line.
The Celtics’ defense was the main factor behind their sweep of the Nets. Led by Jayson Tatum, they held Kevin Durant to 32-of-83 shooting (38.6%) from the field. And now they’ll try to do the same to Antetokounmpo, who shot 55.3% during the regular season.
The winner of this matchup will advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
Antetokounmpo Oblivious to Celtics’ Success
Antetokounmpo said that he gets too stressed watching basketball, so he doesn’t really tune in that much. In turn, he isn’t too familiar with the Celtics’ success lately, although he did say that he knows they’ve been playing well. In addition to their sweep of the Nets, Boston had the NBA’s best record after the All-Star break.
Though it’s possible there could be some truth to Antetokounmpo’s revelation, it’s difficult to imagine that one of the world’s best basketball players doesn’t even follow his own sport. Even if what he said is true, he still knows something about the Celtics because he played three games against them this season, most recently on April 7.
Antetokounmpo’s Stats Against Celtics This Season
The Celtics and Bucks split their season series 2-2 this year, but Antetokounmpo appeared in only three of the four games. He missed the first meeting between the two teams on November 12, a game the Bucks lost by nine points.
In the three games he did play, however, Antetokounmpo put up his usual great numbers, averaging 28.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists while shooting 53.4% from the field and missing all nine of his three-point attempts.
Based on those numbers, a couple of things stand out. First and foremost, they’re down across the board from his season averages of 29.9, 11.6 and 5.8, so the Celtics have slowed him a little bit. But the real stat to note is that Antetokounmpo has yet to hit a three against Boston this year, despite averaging 3.6 per game.
If Antetokounmpo truly has no idea how the Celtics have been playing as of late, he could be in for a rude awakening as their blistering hot defense beats him up from the jump.