The most recent playoff roadblock for the Toronto Raptors: the Greek Freak from Milwaukee

TORONTO — The Freak Present arrives Saturday, a one-man present able to showcasing all that basketball has to supply in a single multi-dimensional and gifted future NBA MVP.

That’s how good Giannis Antetokounmpo is, how indispensable he’s for the Milwaukee Bucks, who start an opening-round collection towards the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night on the Air Canada Centre.

Lengthy and athletic, there isn’t a lot Antetokounmpo can’t do, a freakish six-foot-11 participant with no outlined place, a kind of uncommon skills who can deal with the ball, look over defences given his top, end on the rim, and are available from seemingly nowhere to dam pictures.

And he’s solely 22 years previous.

Saturday will mark the fourth straight season the Raptors are concerned within the post-season, though beforehand the trail has been plagued by veteran villains: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, Paul George, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.

About the one space of weak spot with Antetokounmpo is positioned on the perimeter, the place he isn’t precisely recognized for his bounce shot. However he’s engaged on that. When it’s established, his sport will rise to the rank of unstoppable.

Final summer season, the Bucks doled out the megabucks to make sure Antetokounmpo stays put, committing $100 million over 4 years, which is able to look like pocket change as soon as this summer season’s epic free-agent spending is accomplished.

Milwaukee earned its approach into the post-season fuelled by Antetokounmpo, who posted career-high averages in factors (22.9), rebounds (8.8), assists (5.4), steals (1.6) and blocks (1.9).

Dave Cowens, Scottie Pippen, Garnett and James are the one different gamers to steer their groups in all 5 classes for the reason that NBA started recording blocks and steals in 1973-74.

No different participant in league historical past aside from Antetokounmpo has ended a season among the many high 20 in complete factors, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.

The Raptors should now discover a approach to scheme towards Antetokounmpo, pressure the ball out of his arms, get a physique on him in transition, preserve him out of the paint and take a look at their greatest to make him right into a bounce shooter.

Tom Lynn/AP Tom Lynn / AP

“You gotta respect his bounce pictures, he’s a really improved bounce shooter,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey mentioned Friday. “And what occurs too is once you begin speaking about guys you wish to play off of, make them shoot bounce pictures, that makes you gentle, that makes you a gentle staff.

“So we’re going to have our coverages and all that, however we don’t wish to disrespect anyone as a result of he’s an all-star for a purpose.

There aren’t any scarcity of adjectives when describing Antetokounmpo.

“His size is unbelievable,” Casey mentioned. “The opposite factor too the place he’s very deadly is his passing. He takes delight in his passing, and he doesn’t simply throw a dying quail go, he throws a zing go, he throws his on-time, on-target passes, and that makes him deadly too.

“They’ve achieved a superb job of working with him, he’s achieved a superb job of creating his all-around sport. And when he begins making the three-ball, he’s actually going to be a handful. He performs so arduous, the child performs so arduous, he has a coronary heart as massive as this desk, and his compete stage, you’ve received to match his compete stage to play towards him.”

Kyle Lowry is aware of what’s coming and understands what Antetokounmpo means to Milwaukee.

“He’s going to get his numbers however we’ve received to attempt to management him a bit of bit,” Lowry mentioned. “He’ll get his, he’s that gifted. We’ve received nice defenders in DeMarre Carroll and P.J Tucker who might be bodily and play defence on him, so everybody has to do their jobs.”

It stays to be seen what number of defenders the Raptors will throw at Antetokounmpo, and this collection can be a protracted one if Antetokounmpo is ready to impose his will.

DeMar DeRozan dismisses the notion of Antetokounmpo being much less of an element as soon as groups flip him right into a shooter.

“That’s why he’s one of the dynamic gamers within the league, as a result of often with sure guys that simply rating, you possibly can form of take them out of their scoring place,” DeRozan mentioned. “With a man like him, he’s scoring in each approach attainable, he places an onus on the sport each single approach, whether or not it’s defensively or getting guys concerned offensively, making use of the strain by being aggressive offensively.

“It’s going to be a giant problem, but it surely’s a kind of challenges that’s going to be enjoyable.”

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