In a world where mindfulness is a commodity sold through a phone app, Giannis Antetokounmpo is trying to live it out on the biggest stage in the basketball world.
After a second straight 40+ point game and dominating performance — this time in a Bucks win to make it a 2-1 series — Giannis talked about taking each possession one at a time, and making sure to enjoy the experience. Very mindful things.
“That’s why I’m trying to explain that each possession, each time of the game, it’s different. I’m not planning what I do,” Antetokounmpo said. “I’m just trying to be out there, trying to take it a possession at a time, try to enjoy the game, try to make the right play, try to screen, rebound, run, whatever I can do.
“You know, that’s the mindset I had my whole career and that’s the mindset I’m having right now, and we were able to get the win today.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo used the word enjoy four times in his press conference up to that point, and ESPN’s Rachel Nichols asked him about that word and why he’s enjoying this moment.
“I feel like I’ve come a long way just to be able to sit here, being interviewed by you guys, playing in this game, being with my teammates, thinking I’m going to be out for a year, coming back,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s been a long journey and I’m trying to enjoy every single moment of it. I’ve said in the past I know I’m going to be doing this for a while for the next 10, 12, years, whatever my goal is. So, I just try to enjoy each day and try to take as much as possible from each day and try to be in the moment….
“So… I don’t worry about the outcome as much as I want to enjoy the game. I want my teammates to enjoy the game and I know that by enjoying the game, I’m going to compete as hard as possible and I’m going to do the right thing to help my team be in the right position and have the opportunity to win any game we play.”
Antetokounmpo absolutely helped his team win Game 3. He finished with 41 points on 14-of-23 shooting, 13 rebounds, six assists, and 13-of-17 from the free throw line. The Suns do not have anyone who can guard him (who does?) and it has made him the ultimate disruptive force in this series. Antetokounmpo has been clear and away the best player through three games.
The difference in Game 3 was he got more help — Jrue Holiday had 21 points and hit 5-of-10 from 3 — and also the Suns were more physical with Chris Paul and Devin Booker, not letting them get comfortable and in a rhythm.
The Suns are mindful of Antetokounmpo, too.
“We got to try to build a wall somehow, some way and try to limit the guys from scoring,” Chris Paul said.
In the first two games, Deandre Ayton was primarily that wall. It didn’t work terribly well in Game 2 (the Greek Freak still had 42 points and 12 boards), but with Antetokounmpo playing aggressively downhill in Game 3 — he didn’t make a shot outside of six feet of the rim — Ayton ended up in foul trouble in the second half. Frank Kaminsky is not the answer, so that leaves undersized Suns trying to stop Antetokounmpo. That’s going to lead to a lot of fouls. The Suns tried some zone, but after a flash of success that turned into a disaster.
In Game 4, look for the Suns to try and deny Antetokounmpo the ball, or take other steps not to get him rolling downhill.
Antetokounmpo is going to take those adjustments play-by-play — and try to enjoy the experience.