Can Giannis Carry the Bucks past the Celtics?

Giannis vs. Al Horford is Lit

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Can Giannis Carry the Bucks past the Celtics?

Ryan Griffin: That dunk on Al Horford, mean mugged him, got teed up for it. Al Horford gave him that head shake and then he just went beast mode on him. And maybe Giannis wasn’t expecting to have to work a little bit more, maybe defensively than he thought. But Al Horford and Grant Williams have done a pretty good job on Giannis the entire series, defensively at least.

But Giannis has still been able to make his mark. Obviously, he is a great player, probably the best player in the NBA. And what I think Giannis does so well is he gets to the basket, he’s able to get rebounds. Even if you just look at his stat sheet last year, 34 points and 18 boards and 5 assists.

Giannis vs. Al Horford is Lit

Now he was 14 to 32, from the field, and 0-4 from three. And we talked about, on one of our other shows, his free throws, 6 of 11 from the line. Now he’s dipping back into being 55, 60% free throw shooting Giannis. And I think he was 70% in the regular season.

And of course, you’d rather be 70%. But I think it’s huge for a guy like Giannis, to make teams punish you for following you, because now they don’t even want to. Obviously, they don’t want to let you dunk the ball. But if they don’t want to do either, then they’re just defeated. 

I think, with his struggles at the free-throw line, you’re going to start creeping back up to where Giannis is looking a bit more human and stoppable. Where if you are able to follow him, it’s considered a win for the defense because you don’t have confidence that he’s going to make both at the line.

Giannis Vs. Horford

Matt Bassin: Yeah. And we talked about this before the series started. I had mentioned before that. It’s a higher-pressure situation. These guys are human, and sometimes that pressure can get to you at the free-throw line but watching how much Giannis has to do against this defense. I’m going to go away from the pressure side and just say the man’s exhausted.

It’s been a while since I played team basketball, but I do know that I could make free throws better in the first quarter than I could in the fourth quarter because I was absolutely tired. 

Go run a couple of wind sprints for a while and see how many free throws you make. Giannis is forced to do that in the fourth quarter when he ran the whole game.

He gets fouled and he’s absolutely drained. His shots are not outside shots. Mostly they’re all about four feet and inside from the basket. That’s a little bit easier to make, even when you’re tired. But to step out 15 feet and hit a free throw, that’s not the easiest thing to do in the first place.

Secondly, he’s not the best shooter in the first place. Yes, he’s gotten better, but the mix of the pressure situation and being exhausted from carrying all the load for this team. I think it ends up being a factor for him at the free throw line. 

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Al Horford

Ryan Griffin: Yeah, I don’t think it’s pressure at all. There’s a guy in game six who went 17 or 18 from the free throw line to win the NBA championship and dropped 50 points.

So I don’t think it’s a pressure thing. I think, we’d be looking at this series way differently and even Giannis, way differently if they had won and they were up 3-1, because that’s just how these things go. You’re going to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. 

Al Horford, I know I want to give him his flowers. This is his first 30-point playoff game of his entire career. And it was only his ninth, 30-point game of his career, like overall. And for it to be in the spot where he’s going 11 or 14, he’s playing really good defense on Giannis. 

In the playoffs, he’s the most efficient scorer. So if you look at like points per possession, Al Horford leads the entire playoffs, in that category. So he’s been really good, not just this game, but in the playoffs. He was really good in game three as well. The Celtics just ended up losing it.