Game 1 between the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets takes place at Barclays Center at 12.30am on Saturday night.
By Huw Hopkins
Saturday 5 June 2021 07:39, UK
Six minutes apparently makes all the difference.
Giannis Antetokounmpo might be able to play more, but the increased playing time of 36 minutes per game in this year’s playoffs compared to just 30 last season has changed the narrative. It meant his Milwaukee Bucks swept the Heat out of the first round of the playoffs last week, rather than being embarrassed by the same team in 2019-20 after winning just one game in the best-of-seven second round series.
When Mike Budenholzer became the coach of the Bucks in 2018, he installed a five-out system that saw the ball in Antetokounmpo’s hands to drive to the rim with an open lane or feed any open shooter on the perimeter. It turned ‘The Greek Freak’ into a two-time league MVP, but after the Bucks flamed out of the playoffs earlier than many expected for two seasons running, whispers around Budenholzer’s job security and Antetokounmpo’s ability to rise to the next level began turning into full-blown conversations.
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