The story early on in the NBA Finals is whether two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will be healthy enough to take the court. He hasn’t played since Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals after hyperextending his knee.
That presents a challenge for the Suns as they put together a scouting report on their Finals opponent. Here’s what they had to say on Monday’s availability regarding the Greek Freak:
Mikal Bridges on preparation for the Bucks with or without Giannis:
We always scout. We always scout for Giannis. Obviously, he’s the head of the snake. If he does or does not play, we’re going to be prepared. We know how really good he is, actually how great he is, and we’ve just got to prepare. If he plays or doesn’t play, we’re going to be fully prepared. We’re going to be ready.
For the Finals, we just — we’re going to be ready, man. Obviously, both teams want to win, and we’re going to do whatever it takes. So, we’re just going to go out there, it’s going to be a battle, and we’re just going to play our way and just try to play Suns basketball for 48 minutes. If it gets us the win, then we win. If they beat us at our best, then kudos to them.
Monty Williams on how the Bucks adapt without Antetokounmpo:
The pressure they put on the paint has been pretty consistent, even with Giannis [out], but you see a different way of doing it now with (Jrue Holliday) attacking and (Book Lopez) diving. That’s been something that we have to respect. You have to respect them anyway with Giannis getting into the paint — in transition, in isolation, when he dives in the pick-and-roll, especially with Middleton. So without Giannis, there seems to be a different way of attacking the paint. And then all of their guys that crash the boards. When Giannis is down there with Lopez, they’re so big there’s really no room, it seems like, for other guys. Now you got (Pat Connaughton) going. You got (P.J. Tucker) going a ton. (Bobby Portis Jr.) is down there. Everybody they bring in the game pretty much is going to get an offensive rebound. So they haven’t stopped playing the way they want to play. The pressure on the paint has been pretty consistent in the playoffs.
Deandre Ayton on defending Giannis:
Basically just being the first man on defense. Making sure I’m a presence. Foul awareness as well. Always showing my hands and just matching his physicality. This is a guy whose motor is insane, and we just have to match it and compete. That’s what it comes down to at the end of the day, just competing.
Cameron Johnson on scouting with and without Giannis:
Having a guy like that play or not play, it changes things, but no matter what, they’ve got guys that can really play. So while it may change some little things on our positioning and what we’re doing out there, it’s still going to be a really good team to go up against.
So what we have to do, we just have to bring it to them, be physical, and take the fight to them and play our style of basketball that’s got us to this point.
With or without Giannis, Game 1 of the NBA Finals kicks off on Tuesday.