‘Motivated’ Giannis Antetokounmpo scores 36 for Bucks in win against Raptors

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It was a rematch of last May’s Eastern Conference Finals. And it wasn’t — Toronto no longer has Kawhi Leonard, they are not the same team, and this is not the same rematch that it might have been.

Don’t tell Giannis Antetokounmpo that. Here’s his exact quote, via Eric Woodyard of ESPN.

“I had a lot of motivation, but obviously a different team. Kawhi (Leonard) is not on the team, but I think guys have stepped up,” Antetokounmpo said. “(Kyle) Lowry is still playing amazing, (Pascal) Siakam has stepped up a lot for this team, (OG) Anunoby … those guys, but yeah, just the team that cost us the trip to the NBA Finals, obviously, you’re gonna come out and play a little bit harder and have a little bit extra juice in you.

The motivated Antetokounmpo dropped 36 points and had 15 rebounds in the 115-105 Milwaukee win.

Antetokounmpo picked up this season where he left off the last one, playing at an MVP level just a couple of weeks into the season. However, Antetokounmpo has reached the point in his stardom where the success of his season will not be judged on what happens in the first 82 games — even if he picks up another MVP award — but rather on how far the Bucks go in the playoffs.