Milwaukee Bucks: Analyzing the Giannis Antetokounmpo/Serge Ibaka Matchup

Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports /


This is where the matchup with Toronto and Ibaka could cause the Bucks some problems.

Ibaka is not just one of the best shot-blocking power forwards around, but he’s consistently ranked among the very best rim-protectors at any position in the NBA.

The Raptors were a good offensive team before they got Ibaka, and they can be even more deadly with him in the rotation due to the way he transforms their defensive presence. Jonas Valanciunas is an imposing center, but much like has been the case for most of Greg Monroe‘s career, his strengths lie away from the defensive end.

Putting Ibaka in alongside him allows the Raptors to let Valanciunas work offensively, knowing they’re safe in the hands of Ibaka on the opposite end.

Giannis won’t be challenged physically in terms of defending Ibaka, but he’ll still have some work to do.

Antetokounmpo isn’t going to be beaten off the dribble by Ibaka, and has the necessary length and size to challenge the Toronto forward both inside and out. What will be particularly important to watch is the moments when Giannis chooses to come across and offer help.

Giannis’ all-around defensive versatility is vital to the Bucks, and as such he often fills in as a rim protector or plays the passing lanes for steals. If Giannis gambles too much, Ibaka has the shooting ability to make the Bucks pay. If the Bucks’ All-Star mostly stays at home, his defense should be more than a match for Ibaka’s offensive output.