Giannis is very serious

The Greek destroys Kawhi and George with a sublime performance and a final quarter to frame. The Bucks try new things ... and get it right.


In Milwaukee, two teams met with many things in common. One, from a small market and who defended his own fiefdom, had two seasons with a bitter end, especially the last one, when they said goodbye before time to the dream of the ring after having, for the second year in a row, the best record in the NBA . The other, with a large market but a history radically opposed to the city in which they reside and in which they have always been in the shadow of a franchise, that older brother, who projects an immense light, had fallen on his face in such a way unexpected as deserved when they were already touching the confrontation against the Lakers, the one that seemed to be predestined but that finally did not happen, thanks to the shared faults of the squad, bench and offices and the pride of a rival who endured until the end and he knew how to succeed where his rival failed. Both teams, the Bucks and Clippers, also fell in an identical round of the playoffs a few months ago: the conference semifinals. The first, in the East, with a final 4-1 against the Heat, who benefited from the absence of a lack of field and the development of a campaign more strange than ever and slipped into the Finals. The second, in the West, against the Nuggets, allowing themselves to go back 3-1 when everyone assumed that the familiar confrontation already mentioned was going to take place.

Like any great franchise in professional sports, the objective was clear for the next few months: to improve, correct mistakes, temper spirits, manage egos and, ultimately, be better at the end, at that moment of the season when no one can fail and only the one who comes closest to that phrase wins, which we could almost consider a mantra. Milwaukee has dedicated itself to having more than one plan, that unconstructive criticism that everyone has made of a team that plays in a one-dimensional way and that does not change the plan in a playoffs in which (almost) everyone changes things except them. Mike Budenholzer, who remains in his position through direct collusion with Giannis Antetokounmpo, is forgetting the dominant regular seasons of the more recent past and is trying new things, trying to find solutions beyond a Giannis who has reduced his percentage of use and he has increased his number of passes, surrounding the star with successful shooters from the corners and defending a lot and very well, either with five small ones or with other variants that allow players of the quality of Jrue Holiday.

The Clippers, more of the same: they have abandoned the controversial and at the same time ambiguous load management, they have involved their stars, and they have, in Tyronn Lue, an almost paternal figure with whom egos have been reduced and a rapport has been found between Kawhi and Paul George, between Kawhi and the rest of the squad, between Paul George and the rest of his teammates, and between the star couple with everyone else. Also, both forwards are more effective in their pitches and have improved a lot in the distribution in the absence of a point guard with a passing profile that still does not arrive and that nobody knows if they will get between now and the end of the season. Marcus Morris is active, Lou Williams has gone from averaging less than 10 points per game in January to 17 in February, Nicolás Batum shows a strangely good attitude and everything works as an entity capable of breaking the Jazz streak and having a dynamic Rising contrary, by the way, to that of the Lakers, in the dry dock and ravaged by injuries after an unbeatable start that has turned into a moment full of doubts.And Giannis prevailed

The date had things in common, but in basketball there is only one winner and Giannis took the victory fairly and incredibly legitimately. Beyond the numbers, once again spectacular (36 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal and 4 blocks with 15 of 27 in field goals), the attitude of the star was overwhelming, and his last quarter sublime: 17 points , 2 rebounds and 3 blocks with 6 of 9 shooting and a dunk to sentence (there could be steps, as Paul George pointed out) and that put a 103-100 that sentenced a Clippers error from the triple and the sentence from the line of personal. Giannis beat Kawhi (25 points, only 4 in the fourth quarter) and Paul George (16 and 2 in the fourth period with 1 of 9 in field goals and 0 of 5 in triples). He again showed an impeccable physique, he was powerful on both sides of the court, he took advantage of the miss match in a brutal way (poor Patrick Beverley) without the Angelenos being able to cut his wings that seem to be made of polished gold. Unbreakable, like the determination of its owner, which is, for the umpteenth time, in MVP numbers: 28.9 + 11.7 + 5.9, more than one steal and more than one block per game and 55% in shots field. Similar statistics, but more collaboration; that is to say, assured success.

The game was always level, but a squeeze from the Clippers in the second half put them ahead. It was useless: a poor shot selection and a final game monopolized by their two stars made them very predictable, and the Bucks continued to be collaborative and successful from the triple (12 of 38, with 3 of 7 in the fourth quarter), without changing, this time with great results, the plan of a Budenholzer that sees the light. Milwaukee, at 20-13, does not lead like other years or grab as many headlines, but plays better. Also the Clippers, despite having shot status and not Lou Williams (14 points at the end): 24-12 and good feelings despite the defeat and a bitter end in which Lue has been tactically overcome by Budenholzer. And with, watch out, a 0 of 9 shooting in the last four minutes, the franchise's worst mark in a decade ... and with all the pitches made by its two stars. Also, 15 + 11 from Ibaka and 11 from Morris for the Angelenos, with 19 + 6 + 8 from Khris Middleton on the other side, 10 from Brook Lopez and 11 from Donte DiVincenzo. Fun match, decided at the end and by two applicants who are knowing how to improve and correct mistakes in order to continue being so. The Clippers, there they are, scratching at times and scaring many others. And the Bucks, watch out. That Giannis is very serious.

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