Giannis after Bucks bounce back: "People are coming for us"
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Milwaukee Bucks with a triple-double in Tuesday's 112-98 victory against the Washington Wizards.
The Milwaukee Bucks must realise that they are now the team to beat in the NBA, insists Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee hit back from their 136-100 home loss to the Denver Nuggets with a 112-98 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday. Antetokounmpo was their inspiration, as he so often is, with the reigning NBA Finals MVP finishing with a triple-double of 33 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists, including 13 points in the fourth quarter as the Bucks closed it out on a 17-4 run.
The Bucks are fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 32-21 record, but Antetokounmpo believes the team have not yet fully adjusted to the added weight of expectation that comes with being reigning champions.
"That wasn't us as a team," Antetokounmpo told reporters after the win over the Wizards when asked what went wrong against Denver. "I don't remember the last time I lost by 36 in Milwaukee. Obviously that was kind of embarrassing, but at the end of the night, those nights are going to happen. But we were able to come out tonight, play hard and play together, try to set the tone. We have to realize that in order for us to be great, we've got to play hard. We cannot expect that people are just going to hand us the game when we go out there. People are coming for us. People are hunting us right now. They get excited when they see, 'Milwaukee Bucks, world champs.' We've got to play every single night hard and build that habit."
Only Trae Young (1,248) and Jayson Tatum (1,250) have accumulated more points than Antetokounmpo (1,242) this season, while the Greek forward's points per game average of 28.9 ranks him fourth in the NBA. Tuesday's haul was his fourth triple-double of the season and a 29th of his career, but no other Bucks player has yet managed one in 2021-22. In each of his last three triple-doubles, Antetokounmpo has scored at least 30 points.
Jrue Holiday provided good support with 22 points, five rebounds and two assists and Khris Middleton impressed late, though George Hill missed out due to a neck problem. "I think he's going to miss a few games here," Bucks coach Budenholzer said of Hill. "We're going to have to give him a little bit of time and see how he responds to some treatment, to some time off."