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Giannis Antetokounmpo thanks Bucks fans, vows to be back ‘stronger and better’

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks came within earshot of reaching the NBA Finals this year, but instead lost four straight games to the Toronto Raptors after grabbing a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Still, this was a transcendent year for a Bucks team that won 60 games — their highest total since the 1980-81 season — and watched as Giannis Antetokounmpo developed into an MVP candidate.

Antetokounmpo’s spectacular season may have come to an end on Saturday night, but he was showered with love following the team’s late-night arrival in Milwaukee. In return, “The Greek Freak” took a moment to thank Bucks fans and the organization for a special year.

While Antetokounmpo continued his MVP-caliber play in the playoffs, defenses seemed to commit more and more defenders to help limit his ability to penetrate and get easy looks in the paint.

The Raptors made the decision to switch Kawhi Leonard onto Antetokounmpo, which also appeared to limit his effectiveness.

Giannis still stuffed stat sheets, posting a line of 22.7 points, 13.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.7 blocks and 1.2 steals in the series. But after shooting close to 58 percent from the field during the regular season, Antetokounmpo shot just under 45 percent from the field against the Raptors.

In the waning moments of Game 6, it was clear that the Raptors were totally content with forcing Giannis to beat them by shooting from the perimeter, simultaneously sending help defense his way whenever he flashed to the paint or tried to get the ball in the post.

That said, Antetokounmpo has already become one of the best players in the league at 24 years old. Should he continue to develop a jump shot, he might become the most deadly force that the NBA has ever seen.