The Milwaukee Bucks may have been without Giannis Antetokounmpo for Game 1 of their first round series of the NBA Playoffs against the Indiana Pacers, but that didn’t slow them down as they rolled to a 109-94 win at home to temporarily take control of the series. The Bucks were powered by Damian Lillard who exploded offensively in the first half.

Lillard dropped 35 points in the first half of Game 1 which was a playoff career high for him for points in a half. Lillard is a superstar himself and this is precisely why the Bucks traded for him, so that they have someone else capable of stepping up especially in the playoffs.

In fact, after hitting a shot in the first half, that’s exactly what Lillard said, “This is what y’all brought me here for.”

While it remains to be seen how good the Bucks can still be without Antetokounmpo, what is certain is that there are other players on this team capable of stepping up in a big way come playoff time. Antetokounmpo is dealing with a calf injury. The injury kept him out of the Bucks final three games of the regular season and his status for the first round is still uncertain. Although the Bucks are hoping that he can return at some point during this series against the Pacers.

Damian Lillard is the other superstar the Bucks needed in the NBA Playoffs

For however long Giannis Antetokounmpo is out, the Bucks have Damian Lillard who can step up and carry the offensive load. Lillard finished Game 1 with 35 points, all in the first half, six rebounds and three assists. He shot 11-24 from the field, 6-11 from the three point line and a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line.

Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) reacts after scoring a basket in the in the second quarter against the Indiana Pacers during game one of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Fiserv Forum.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

During the regular season, Lillard at times struggled to find a consistent rhythm within the Bucks offense. He played in 73 games at a little over 35 minutes per game. He averaged 24.3 points per game, 4.4 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.0 steals with splits of 42.4 percent shooting from the field, 35.4 percent shooting from the three point line and 92 percent shooting from the free throw line.

When it comes to the playoffs, Lillard has always been a top postseason performer. During his last appearance in the NBA Playoffs during the 2020-21 season with the Portland Trail Blazers, he averaged a playoff career high 34.3 points per game, 4.3 rebounds, 10.2 assists and 1.0 steals with splits of 46.3 percent shooting from the field, 44.9 percent shooting from the three point line and 94 percent shooting from the free throw line. He led the NBA in minutes play during that postseason with 41.3.

For his career, Lillard averages 25.7 points per game in the playoffs, 4.5 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.2 steals. He shoots 41.2 percent from the field, 36.9 percent shooting from the three point line and 88.7 percent from the free throw line.

Obviously, the Bucks are going to need Giannis Antetokounmpo to win a championship. He’s their MVP level player and franchise guy. But there are other stars on this team such as Lillard and Khris Middleton. It’s possible they can keep this series competitive and perhaps get Antetokounmpo back at some point.