Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo dominated on Friday night, leading the Bucks to a 123-116 victory in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.
Antetokounmpo had a near triple-double in the win, finishing with 32 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists to give Milwaukee a 2-1 series lead. He shot 8 of 13 from the field in the contest, and scored all of his points from either the paint or the free-throw line.
Yet it was his performance at the line — where he went 16 of 22 — that frustrated Celtics guard Kyrie Irving.
“It’s inevitable. The guy comes in almost six times in a row, gets free throws,” Irving said. “What are you really going to do? It’s slowing the game down. ... He shot 22 on the game. It’s getting ridiculous at this point. It’s just slowing the f—-ing game down.”
After Game 3 loss to Bucks, Celtics' Kyrie Irving on Giannis Antetokounmpo's free throw attempts: "He shot 22 on the game. It's getting ridiculous at this point. It's slowing the f---ing game down." pic.twitter.com/GMvCYjRBTx
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 4, 2019
Sure, Antetokounmpo shot a lot of free throws on Friday night. He was at the charity stripe 22 times, tying a career high. Trying to stop Antetokounmpo when he’s being that aggressive is no easy task — that’s one of the biggest reasons why the Celtics dropped their second straight game in the series.
Normally, though, he’s there much less.
Antetokounmpo shot 18 free throws in Game 2 of the series, and just 10 in Game 1. On the season, Antetokounmpo averaged 9.5 free throw attempts per game.
While Antetokounmpo was the main Bucks player getting to the line — the rest of the team shot 14 free throws combined on Friday — the Celtics weren’t far behind. Boston shot a total of 32 free throws in the game, just four less than Milwaukee did.
With both teams shooting essentially the same number of free throws, it’s hard to question the officiating on that front.
That’s likely part of the reason Boston coach Brad Stevens just avoided the subject completely.
“I don’t complain about officials,” Stevens said, via Ben Golliver of the Washington Post. “We’ve got a lot of stuff we have to do better. They have a hard job. We focus on us and the control-ables. That’s the bottom line.”
Either way, don’t expect Antetokounmpo to change his game plan for Game 4 on Monday night.
"I'm just going to keep being aggressive. That's what my teammates want me to do."
Giannis (32 PTS, 12 REB, 8 AST) on his mentality after another big night in another Bucks win. #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/g5kNLWmliy
— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 4, 2019
“I love getting to the free-throw line,” Antetokounmpo said. “I work on it. I’m shooting my free throws with confidence. It’s easy points for me and my teammates. I’m just going to keep being aggressive and keep making plays and sometimes if I have to take it all the way, I have to take it all the way.”
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