Giannis Antetokounmpo: Making sense of MVP’s comments on frustration

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 18 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 18 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks lost their fifth consecutive game last night, their longest such streak since 2017.

It has been a grueling five-game stretch to watch as the Bucks have been dismantled by their opponents in every aspect of the game. Furthermore, it appeared that this team had finally found their rhythm just before this streak kicked off, as they had won three straight contests, including one without starting point guard Jrue Holiday.

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Holiday missed his sixth consecutive game last night due to the league’s health and safety protocols, and the Bucks have missed his presence dearly. This team has been entirely different without Jrue in the lineup, as evidenced by their 1-5 record with him sidelined in this stretch.

After breezing through the regular season for two consecutive seasons, Milwaukee’s 16-13 record on the season is certainly something fans are not accustomed to seeing. Frustration is budding to the point where many are clamoring for head coach Mike Budenholzer’s job and more personnel changes being made to this roster.

However, Giannis Antetokounmpo has a different take on the situation, one that some might consider puzzling.

Amid the chaos of Milwaukee’s losing streak, Giannis Antetokounmpo has remained calm.

Following Milwaukee’s loss to the110-96 loss to the Toronto Raptors last night, many wondered what Antetokounmpo would have to say about the status of this team. This is unfamiliar territory for Antetokounmpo in recent memory, but surprisingly, he plans to remain calm. Per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jim Owczarski:

"“I’m not frustrated. It’s part of it. We’re learning. We try to get better,” Antetokounmpo said. “You can see there was effort behind our action. Obviously we didn’t have the answers. We gotta come back tomorrow, gather our thoughts, put ourselves in a good place, have good energy, just go out there and play. Play hard and enjoy one another. Play for one another. Play together. But obviously it’s part of it.“We’ll learn from it, we’re gonna get better, and at the end of the day – like I say a lot of times when things go bad, that’s where you get better. That’s where you excel, that’s where you improve. Or, you can turn the other way, just go home and quit or you can keep fighting. We might lose 10 in a row. I don’t know. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that we gotta have good thoughts and behind our actions we’ve got to have effort. We gotta play. We gotta play together.”"

Given Milwaukee’s abysmal play in this recent stretch of games, these comments were a head scratcher for some, considering how justifiably frustrating these circumstances should be for him. Yes, maybe these regular season struggles could help Milwaukee improve down the road when adversity arises in the postseason, which this team has seen repeatedly.

Save for Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks are growing lifeless over their losing streak.

While the Bucks have undoubtedly faced some tough opponents in this stretch, the biggest factor playing into these losses does not seem to be the competition but more so their lack of effort. One area that Giannis hit on perfectly postgame was the mention of energy among himself and his teammates. In last night’s loss to the Raptors, the only players who showcased any spirit both happened to sport the name Antetokounmpo on the back of their jersey.

Giannis gave it all he could on the night, pouring in 23 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, and two steals in 37 minutes before fouling out. It was not the most efficient night from the two-time MVP as he shot just 8-of-20 from the floor (0-of-4 from deep), but outside of him, this team had nothing going for themselves offensively.

One of the few positive takeaways on the night came from his brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo, who immediately made an impactful difference. Thanasis has primarily been sidelined for the past several weeks, but the Bucks desperately needed a third quarter spark, and he gave it to them. In just over seven and a half minutes, he finished with five points, shooting 2-of-6 from the floor, and grabbing three offensive rebounds while making every hustle play available.

Aside from these two, the efforts were rather sluggish. Khris Middleton had another poor shooting night, finishing with 13 points on 13 shot attempts in addition to a team-high six turnovers. Brook Lopez had 12 points in his 20 minutes of burn, but he got pulled in the third quarter and never returned as the Raptors continued exploiting Milwaukee’s perimeter defense. Donte DiVincenzo managed to put up 14 points on 15 shot attempts, and aside from Thanasis, Milwaukee’s bench chipped in just 21 points.

Logging 15 turnovers in the contest undoubtedly did not help the Bucks, as they looked devoid of any rhythm throughout the night. This carelessness has been a common theme throughout the losing streak, and this team has some self-reflection to address as they find themselves in a chasm-sized hole 29 games into the season.

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They will not have much time to think as they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight by looking to avoid a six-game losing streak and dig themselves out of this mess.