Giannis Antetokounmpo explains why he didn’t guard Jimmy Butler in crunch time
Jimmy Butler was an unstoppable force for the Miami Heat on Monday, as he led his team to a surprise Game 1 victory over the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. Interestingly, newly-crowned Defensive Player of the Year winner Giannis Antetokounmpo was not tasked to guard the hot-handed Butler down the stretch, and after the contest, the Bucks superstar shed some light on why this came to be.
Giannis had a simple explanation: it just wasn’t the matchup Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer drew up:
Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo on whether he asked to switch onto Heat’s Jimmy Butler during late-game explosion: “To guard him? No, I didn’t. Why would you ask that? I’ll do whatever coach wants me to do.” pic.twitter.com/IFpR5pk1s1
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) September 1, 2020
To be clear, Giannis is by no means criticizing his coach here. As a matter of fact, he is exhibiting his unwavering loyalty to Budenholzer, expressing his willingness to perform whatever task his coach asks of him.
Then again, this was a valid question. Logically thinking, it would not have been a completely bad idea to have literally the best defender in the league guard the best player on the other team.
Butler was on fire on Monday, finishing with 40 points on 13-of-20 shooting (2-of-2 from distance and 12-of-13 from the charity stripe), to go along with four rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block in 36 minutes of action. Butler was a man on a mission in Game 1, and he made sure Miami would come away with a key win to open the series.
For his part, Antetokounmpo had a rather pedestrian evening against the Heat, scoring just 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting. He was terrible from the line in this one, going 4-of-12, while also uncharacteristically turning the ball over six times. The reigning MVP did record 10 rebounds and nine assists, but clearly, Miami’s stifling defense did quote a number on him tonight.