The Toronto Raptors are facing off against the Milwaukee Bucks, and therefore, the incredible Giannis Antetokounmpo. There’s no way to stop Giannis, but how can the Raptors try to slow him down?
Facing the Milwaukee Bucks is a tall task. They’re a 60-win team who finished with the first ranked defense and the fourth-ranked offense. Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez are all extremely talented players. However, the Toronto Raptors biggest challenge is finding a way to slow down Giannis Antetokounmpo.
You don’t stop Giannis. He’s a 6’11” alien with insane athleticism, incredible skill, and the best at-the-rim scorer since Shaquille O’Neal. His jumpshot isn’t fluid, it’s not incredibly efficient, but it’s good enough. He keeps defenses honest with nearly one three-point shot a game, shooting 26-percent on those looks.
The goal of every defense is to make Antetokounmpo shoot jumpers, but that’s easier said than done. Put a post on him, and he’ll zoom past for a dunk or layup. Try a wing defender, and he’ll go right through him. Sag off him, and you give him a runway to pick up steam.
In previous seasons, the Bucks made it easier. They gave teams areas of weakness to sag off. Milwaukee finished 27th in three-point makes in 2017-2018. Without proper spacing, opponents were able to build a wall in front of the rim.
Milwaukee now surrounds Giannis with a bevy of shooters. Mike Budenholzer and Brook Lopez changed the way the Bucks play. Everyone is a threat from behind the arc now. Teams can’t load up on Giannis as they did previously.
The result? A likely MVP season. Giannis averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game, and we won’t even begin to talk about his defensive impact.
But believe it or not, there is hope. The Raptors are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, and although they cannot stop Giannis, there are ways to slow him down.