Bucks: Greek Freak could be tough test for Raps
CLEVELAND— The Milwaukee Bucks are going to bump and grab DeMar DeRozan and try to push him around when the NBA playoffs begin on the weekend, attempting to take the most prolific Toronto Raptors scorer out of his comfort zone. Game 1 is Saturday at 5:30 p.m. But DeRozan’s been going through it all year, coach Dwane Casey said, and that familiarity should help.
“We don’t get overly excited about it but the main thing they do is they play very physical,” Casey said Wednesday morning about Toronto’s first-round playoff opponent. “They grab and hold him, don’t let him go where he wants to go. (It’s) nothing different than you are going to see in any playoff game.”
The key for the Raptors will be not only matching the physical way the Bucks play but surpassing it.
Milwaukee may not have nearly the same record as the Raptors do and they may be the sixth Eastern Conference seed to Toronto’s third but Casey’s message is to throw the past performance charts away.
“If we don’t go into this series with a sense of urgency knowing how hard this team plays, and think it’s a wrap just because we show up, it’s not going to happen,” Casey said.
“I’m not going to get blindsided by seeing Milwaukee. They are a good young team.”
Milwaukee is led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, the seven-footer known affectionately as the Greek Freak because of his unique skill set. The 22-year-old gobbles up space on the floor by the sheer length of his stride and has become something of a point centre who directs the offence from anywhere on the floor.
“He reminds me so much of a young Magic Johnson as far as his length, his size, the way he can pass the ball,” Casey said.
“And Lord forbid he gets consistent on his jump shots. He’s totally different than anything else in our league.”
One of the biggest beneficiaries of Antetokounmpo’s varied skills is Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton, the team’s best three-point shooter. Casey called him the “X factor” in the series.
“He stretches the floor out in transition, shooting the three, one-on one — he’s an excellent iso player — so now do you put your best defender on him or do you put your best defender on Antetokounmpo.” Doug Smith