Giannis Antetokounmpo, at 6-10 with ball-handling ability, is a matchup problem for every NBA team. After the Wizards did a good job containing him in their first meeting, the floodgates opened in a 27-point loss in the rematch. Tonight, they're meeting for the second game in a row but this one is at Verizon Center.
Antetokounmpo had a career-high 39 points in that 123-96 win, the most lopsided loss of the Wizards' season. The Bucks scored 73 points in the first half alone.
"He scores all of his points in the paint," said Otto Porter, who is tasked with covering the small forward with the skill set of a guard. "He gets a lot of his points getting to the free-throw line, transition. Take three dribbles and he's already at the goal. With his ability to get to the rim, we definitely got to clog the paint a lot more than what we did. Once he gets in the paint, we got to make it tough for him. We got to come crashing down on him."
Antetokounmpo is tied with Wall for the second-most points in transition per game in the NBA (5.7) behind Russell Westbrook (6.8).
He shot 12-for-19 which included 10-for-13 at the rim And being in that deep led to him shooting 15 of 17 from the foul line.
"We got to go back and do what we did the first game, Porter said. "Plug the paint, make him kick it out to non-shooters."
Even when bigger defenders such as Markieff Morris, who is 6-10, switched onto Antetokounmpo, he was given the real estate too easily.
Anteotokounmpo scored 28 and shot 11-for-18 in the first meeting Dec. 10, won 110-105 by the Wizards when he made 10 fewer trips to the foul line. He still was effective. He shot 9 of 12 inside the paint.
"We were hitting more, checking him every time he went around the court," said backup forward Kelly Oubre, who also spends time defending him. "We didn't let him freelance and get to where he wanted to go. He felt comfortable (on Friday). It was two different games."
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