Bucks: Greek Freak could be tough test for Raps

Toronto Star - - SPORTS -

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

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