The Bucks are an interesting team.
There aren’t too many championship-level squads where the best player isn’t also the closer. But that’s exactly what we have in Milwaukee.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is a two-time MVP and one of the most unique athletes to ever play the game. But his shooting ability, or lack thereof, makes it very hard for him to be “that guy” at the end of games when defenses are forcing players to take tough mid-range jump shots. He’s also a dreadful free-throw shooter, shooting just 55 percent from the line during these playoffs. Middleton becomes the best option in these scenarios because, shooting 88 percent from the line, you can’t just hack him like teams do Giannis.
And that’s where Khris Middleton fits in perfectly for this Bucks team. While Middleton isn’t the most talented player on the roster, he’s by far the most trusted in big moments. He showed up again last night in Game 3, scoring 38 points, 20 of which came in the 4th quarter.
That team has an understanding, and they flow pretty well with it. It’s helped them get to the Eastern Conference inals, and it could lead them to a championship if all the pieces fall into place.
Giannis even said he’s cool with Middleton being the focal point in crunch time.
“I want to be a winner,” Antetokounmpo said. “I have the whole game to be ‘the guy.’ I don’t care about being the guy in the fourth quarter. I trust Khris to death. If Khris asks for the ball, better give him the ball.”
Many will try to turn Giannis’ words about Middleton into a sign of weakness, because they believe that as a star player, Giannis should take over during those moments. But there’s strength in knowing when you need help, and in trusting others to do their job and help you.
Like J. Cole said: “Pride is the devil.” Giannis seems to have understood this lesson very well.
His goal is to be a champion, and you can’t get there without trusting people to step up.
Giannis and the Bucks shouldn’t be second-guessed for how they close their games.
If it works it works. It’s as simple as that.