The Milwaukee Bucks treated the eight seeding games like the preseason: Limited minutes for stars, trying out funky lineups, getting deep bench guys run, keeping key players healthy, and not stressing over wins and losses. The Bucks’ massive lead for the No. 1 seed in the East afforded them the luxury of being casual.
It was all a little too casual for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is not happy with the team’s play through the seeding games, he told reporters, as relayed by Eric Woodyard of ESPN.
“It wasn’t frustrating because we were losing. Like, losing is part of basketball, losing is part of the game, but, obviously, what was frustrating because at times I think we wasn’t ourselves,” Antetokounmpo said following Saturday’s practice. “We wasn’t moving the ball as much as I wanted to move the ball or as much as [coach Mike Budenholzer] wants us to move the ball. We wasn’t defending as hard. As I said, there was times that we were ourselves, where we were the No. 1 team in the league on defense, but there were times that we showed that and there was times that we didn’t.
“I think the most frustrating part for me was probably the Memphis game, sitting in the hotel and not being able to be out there to help my teammates compete and win a game and losing a lot of money. But, yeah, this is over. This is in the past. Now it’s playoff time.”
Antetokounmpo watched the last game from his hotel room after headbutting Moe Wagner in the previous game, earning him a one-game suspension. The Greek Freak is an intense competitor, meaning sitting out games, or losing even meaningless games, eats at him. Even if it doesn’t ultimately matter.
While Antetokounmpo missed his final game, he played well enough overall to make the second-team All Seeding Games team. The Bucks as a team were pretty pedestrian, 10th in defensive rating and middle-of-the-pack on offense. Expect that to change now that the games get serious.
Tuesday the Bucks tip-off their first-round playoff series against Orlando.
That’s when there should be no malaise — the Magic are a solid team, but not a threat to the Bucks. At least the Bucks we saw in the first two-thirds of the season. If Antetokounmpo is frustrated with his team’s play a couple of games into that series, this is a very different conversation.
For now, it’s probably just bad news for the Magic that there is a fired up and frustrated Antetokounmpo about to unleash on them.
Giannis Antetokounmpo frustrated with Bucks level of play, 3-5 record originally appeared on NBCSports.com