Giannis Antetokounmpo crashed through Phoenix Suns defenders over and over again Tuesday night.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ superstar forward attacked the basket, often directly through a defender, and found a way to score repeatedly. Antetokounmpo had 24 free-throw attempts in the Suns’ 116-104 loss to Milwaukee at Footprint Center compared to Phoenix’s 16 as a team.
Suns coach Monty Williams summed up his team’s thoughts rather quickly.
“It’s ridiculous, there is no other way to put it,” Williams said.
“When a guy just runs into you the whole game, it’s like we dealt with this so many times with this team and credit to him, he saw the way the game was being called and he kept doing it, but that’s hard to swallow and this has happened a number of times when we play them. For me, it’s hard for me to tell our guys to keep their level of poise because that’s frustrating. They beat us, make no mistake about it, but that’s a hard one to swallow and it’s happened too many times.”
Antetokounmpo is one of the game’s best players. He might be known as the NBA’s best due to his ability at a listed 6-foot-11 and chiseled 242 pounds.
But he and the Suns have history. Phoenix’s fans might rather not talk about it, but Antetokounmpo’s performances in the 2021 NBA Finals earned him the praise he has today.
Antetokounmpo’s status is rarely questioned throughout the league, but the mannerisms he has are frustrating. He averages 13 free-throw attempts per game, which is the most in the NBA.
“One player is shooting more free throws than the whole entire team,” Suns guard Devin Booker said. “...we have seen this movie before.”
And it is an irritating one. Antetokounmpo had more than 10 free throws attempted in all but one game of the Finals a year-and-a-half ago. In Game 6 of the series, he had 19, which altered the course of the contest and limited the impact of Suns center Deandre Ayton, who averaged just under four fouls per game in the Finals and had five Tuesday.
Torrey Craig took some brutal hits from Antetokounmpo Tuesday night. He seemed to take an obvious charge when Antetokounmpo lowered his shoulder to drop him to the floor.
Absolutely disgusting foul by Torrey Craig. I hope Giannis is okay, scary stuff. pic.twitter.com/VADFInAzIa— Jake (@SuperiorNBA) March 15, 2023
Later, he lost a tooth when he took an elbow to the face.
Torrey Craig just picked up his tooth off the floor pic.twitter.com/3O87N0zG6i— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) March 15, 2023
Meanwhile, Booker and Suns guard Chris Paul alternated finding their offense with Bucks point guard Jrue Holiday breathing down their neck. They finished with four combined free throw attempts.
“It’s not fair,” Williams said.
Milwaukee improved to 2-0 against Phoenix this season. The Suns may face the Bucks again if they collide in the NBA Finals, which could very well happen if the Suns return Kevin Durant at a high level and get their team acclimated to their system.
The Suns will have to get back at the Bucks another day. Antetokounmpo shoved and whistles were blown. Phoenix will need to find a way to fight through it.