“Blocked by Antetokounmpo” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as “Blocked by James,” but the play itself might’ve been just as good.
Last night, with 1:25 left, Chris Paul brought the ball up the floor, passing half court and dumping it to DeAndre Ayton, who was standing right above the three-point line at the top of the key. Devin Booker comes over from his left and receives the handoff as Ayton simultaneously screens for him, then rolls to the rim for an alley-oop attempt. The score was 101-99, and the Milwaukee Bucks were ahead of the Phoenix Suns, so this would obviously tie the game.
Giannis Antetokoumnpo had been guarding Ayton on the screen attempt and shifted his focus toward Booker, while he’s being defended tightly by P.J. Tucker. Tucker gets beat by a step, so Giannis steps up to help, and the pass to Ayton goes airborne, over Antetokoumnpo’s head, to be exact. Somehow, some fucking how, Giannis pivoted at the exact right time, hopped off one foot as Ayton caught the pass, and blocked they alley-oop dunk attempt at the rim. You could barely execute this play this perfectly in 2K if you tried this shit 100 times.
Antetokounmpo finished off what became a 109-103 series-tying Game 4 victory with 26 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, three steals, and two blocks. No one cares about that other block, though, because that isn’t the one he was asked to break down after the game, which he did.
“I saw it coming,” he said, trying to walk everyone through it step-by-step as it replayed in his head. “Once I saw (Booker) put (the ball) on his one hand, he was too far for a layup, so I knew he was throwing a lob, and I committed so much. I felt (Ayton) rolling to the rim behind me, so I knew the only chance to get a stop was to jump towards the rim and try to cover that angle for him to score.”
He later added, reiterating his final point, “I didn’t jump to block the ball, I jumped towards the rim.”
There’s also been a slight trend over the last couple games, where Giannis has noticeably gone toward the locker room during the first each in each of the last two appearances for Milwaukee. Given the injury-plagued season and playoffs we’ve experienced collectively, it could be worrisome, however, Antetokoumnpo wanted to clarify that they’re not injury related, not even a little bit.
“How do you guys say it politely? I wanted to take a … a tinkle,” he said with a smirk as reporters laughed. “That’s polite right?”
More polite than that block, that’s for damn sure.