Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks in awe of unstoppable Nikola Vucevic
His individual dominance was so overwhelming that reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the rest of the Bucks were left astonished post-match.
Vucevic posted gigantic numbers of 35 points, 14 rebounds and four assists in 36 minutes for the eight-seeded Magic, and he did it against the best team in the league. The 29-year-old Montenegrin shot 15-for-24 from the field and also drained five of his eight 3-pointers.
“He was just playing out of his mind,” Antetokounmpo said of Vucevic after the game, per The Athletic’s Eric Nehm.
“He was making 3s. He was making 2s. He was pump-faking, taking it off the dribble, going to the post. It was hard. It’s hard to guard a guy that can shoot the 3 because, to be honest, you don’t want to switch, right?”
Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer also admitted he was taken aback by how the Magic All-Star outplayed his front court. He also pointed out Milwaukee’s uncharacteristic lack of rim protection in Game 1.
“Vučević played well, then I think they started getting to the rim, and we were caught not taking away either,” coach Bud said. “You got to be good in the paint — we only had three blocked shots. So, I think we can protect the rim better and we got to find a way to get to the three-point shooters better also.”
While Vucevic certainly played out of his mind on Tuesday, the Bucks didn’t do themselves any favors either by coming out flat from the opening tip. Milwaukee must find a way to hold down Nikola Vucevic in Game 2 on Thursday or they will certainly fall 0-2 in their best-of-seven series.