Threes

Time:2021-06-21 20:28       Tag:

Giannis Antetokounmpo is 4 for 32 on three-pointers in seven games this postseason.

You can¨t get out of a shooting slump if you stop shooting.

And you can¨t expect a power forward who¨s basically been playing point guard for years to revert to ^just ̄ being a power forward.

But this three-point situation with Giannis Antetokounmpo has gone from cringe-y to a distraction, and it¨s not helping the Milwaukee Bucks win critical postseason games against Brooklyn.

It feels like we might be watching Antetokounmpo going through something like a quarter-life identity crisis and he needs good leadership ! from coaches or trusted teammates ! to help him out a little.

The 7-footer carried the Bucks ! with longtime teammate Khris Middleton ! Thursday night with 33 points and 14 rebounds in Milwaukee¨s 86-83 win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Antetokounmpo also took eight threes, missing seven, and is 4 of 32?from three-point range in seven playoff games this year.

^You’ve got to shoot, ̄ Antetokounmpo said Thursday night.

And then he changed his thought a bit with a small shake of the head: ^Not necessarily ?`you’ve got to shoot.¨

^You’ve got to make the best decision at the time. If I feel like, if I can knock it down, I’m going to shoot it. ̄

More:The Milwaukee Bucks got back into the series by doing whatever it took to win

More:Packers Za’Darius Smith and Aaron Jones go crazy cheering on the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum

In the opening round against Miami, Antetokounmpo¨s missed threes (1 of 16) were nonconsequential. The Bucks swept the Heat in four games.

In Game 2 against Brooklyn, his missed threes (0 for 3)?were somewhat understandable. The Bucks were getting blown out almost from the opening tip and taking threes wasn¨t unreasonable. Desperate times call for Greek threes.

But in a nail-biter Game 3 with scoring in the 80s, Antetokounmpo couldn¨t be stopped by an increasingly exasperated Blake Griffin inside ! especially with that tornado spin move down low.

Yet Antetokounmpo just would not resist taking 8 three-point attempts, a career playoff high.

It¨s easy to understand why he wants to shoot,?if you consider his perspective. There¨s so much open space in front of Giannis these days, teammate Pat Connaughton is going to start buying it and developing it into real estate.

It doesn¨t make complete sense, though. He¨s 3 of 16 from three?against Brooklyn so far. All season, Antetokounmpo has talked?about developing his game, being more mature ! his word ! and finding ways to?help his team win besides using his brute strength and athleticism to get to the hole.

Too many bad threes are detrimental to the team¨s cause.

Antetokounmpo tried to explain why he keeps shooting: He¨s relying on what his gut tells him to do, right now,?whether his instincts tell him to pass, drive ! or pull up for three.

^Basketball is all about instincts, ̄ Antetokounmpo said. ^If my instincts tell me that’s the best decision to take, you know,?I live with that.

^I was just trying to make the right decision at the right moment and today that was shooting 8 threes. Maybe next game, it will be zero threes, who knows. ̄

Long forgotten by everyone?probably is this: In each regular-season game?against Brooklyn in May, Antetokounmpo hit 4?three-pointers (4 of 8 and 4 of 12). So he?can?hit them.

^The only way you could get back there is by being?(in) the moment, ̄ Antetokounmpo said. ^Like, if you keep thinking about it, you¨re never gonna get back there.

^I just strive to be (in) the moment and to make the right decision. And if I can knock down one or two or three or four or five ´ it’s going to be a great night.

^I just try to start with one. ̄

Looking back at some video from the game, I actually think it¨s the Bucks who are in an identity crisis right now.

Long gone are the days when the Bucks can rely on any sort of scoring production from the bench. Game 3 was pitiful once again with six?points from the bench, and P.J. Tucker, thrust in to the starter role, had zero.

The Bucks have put the fate of this team squarely on the shoulders of its big three: Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Jrue Holiday. And Antetokounmpo is trying to deliver.

So expecting coach Mike Budenholzer to slam him for taking threes? Publicly anyway? It¨s not going to happen.

^It’s something that he’s going to do, ̄ Budenholzer said. ^Obviously when he scores and makes threes, it makes him harder to guard. To say he’s never going to shoot a three is probably not wise; to say he’s going to shoot 20 of them is probably not wise.

^So, he’s got to find his spots, he’s got to understand to attack and we got to play with each other. But part of us being good is is letting Giannis continue to grow as a shooter. ̄

It doesn’t seem like the Bucks have a clear-cut offensive strategy anymore with this re-tooled roster struggling against the Nets. Antetokounmpo probably shouldn’t be taking so many threes, but if he doesn’t score a bunch,?who will?

Message Lori Nickel?on Twitter at @LoriNickel,?Instagram at @bylorinickel?or?Facebook at?facebook.com/ChinUpLoriNickel.