Giannis Antetokounmpo is the reigning NBA MVP and just recently won Defensive Player of the Year. Despite these facts, his status as the best defensive player in the game is coming into question. The Milwaukee Bucks lost the first game of their second-round playoff matchup with the Miami Heat. The biggest reason they lost was because Jimmy Butler went on a tear and scored 40 points.
This led some to question why Giannis didn’t switch things up and guard Butler. He wasn’t a fan of the question and made a reporter feel stupid for even asking. However, not everybody was liked his answer very much.
As a competitor and DPOY that’s your job to take that assignment. I know Marcus smart, Avery Bradley, kawhi woulda been like FOH I’m guarding him. https://t.co/kEHStlPiJU
— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) September 1, 2020
Traditionally, it wouldn’t make much sense for Giannis to guard Butler because they play two very different positions. That said, the “Greak Freak” is athletic enough to where he could probably guard anybody. The main reason he didn’t guard Butler probably has more to do with what his coach decided. If Butler keeps playing at a very high level, it could be time to switch things up.
Are Bucks in Trouble?
Losing any game in the playoffs doesn’t feel great but it’s not time for the Bucks to panic yet. They also lost Game 1 against the Orlando Magic and then easily beat them in the next four games. Now, the Heat are definitely a different beast. They have really strong talent and a head coach who has won multiple titles.
However, the Bucks are too good to not be able to figure things out. They finished the season with the best record in the league for a reason. Giannis wasn’t particularly great in Game 1 but he’s definitely going to have some dominant performances. Butler is a great player but he’s not better than Giannis. The Heat are capable of pulling off the upset but it doesn’t seem likely to happen.
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Lakers Seem Fine Without Bradley
Thomas mentioning Bradley as a player who would guard Butler is a testament to how good of a defender he is. Unfortunately, the Lakers don’t have him for the NBA bubble. When it was first revealed that he wasn’t going to play in the bubble, it looked like the team could be in trouble. He’s a strong 3-point shooter and one of the better perimeter defenders in the NBA.
When it became apparent that the Lakers were playing the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round, it seemed like they were going to miss Bradley even more. Luckily, that hasn’t been the case for Los Angeles. Their defense has been excellent and players like Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma have stepped things up. It would still be nice to have Bradley around but they seem to be managing okay without him.