The Bucks are hugely reliant on Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is keen to ensure he lasts the distance in the playoffs.
Giannis Antetokounmpo says he is trusting Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer to manage his minutes through the playoffs.
The Greek Freak turned in an MVP-caliber regular season, yet he averaged just 32.8 minutes per game as his hard-driving efforts sometimes took their toll, ending the season hobbled by an ankle injury.
Antetokounmpo scored 24 points in just 23 minutes in Game 1 of the Bucks’ first-round playoff series against the Pistons — a 121-86 win — before playing 30 minutes in Game 2 and contributing 26 points.
The 24-year-old continues to deliver consistently, but there were some concerns that he was struggling at times in Wednesday’s second comprehensive 120-99 success.
Antetokounmpo had an extended spell on the floor in the third quarter and explained to reporters: “I was just tired, just tired. We were playing fast.
“I can’t remember who was in the game — I think Khris [Middleton] and George Hill — but the pace was just really fast.
“I was probably in the game for 8 1/2 minutes straight, where usually I’d stay in the game for 6, 6 1/2.
“I was trying to be aggressive, trying to defend, rebound, run, trying to be more active. Obviously, I just got tired. Coach Bud saw that and that’s why he took me out.”
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Asked whether he would be required to have further extended spells in the thick of the action throughout the playoffs, he replied: “It depends — usually I’d rather be in the game at the end of the game, the fourth quarter.
“When I’m going and I’m making plays, I’m defending, I’m running the floor and finding my team-mates, I like to be in the game.
“There’s been times when coach Bud has left me in the game, and there’s been times when he said, ‘No, sit your butt.’ All I can do is trust him.”
Budenholzer is not concerned, though, insisting it is natural that a player as involved as Antetokounmpo should feel the effects after a time.
“Giannis tends to play so hard and give so much,” he said. “He does a ton for us defensively, then we’re trying to play fast and he may have the ball a lot.
“I don’t think it was anything unusual. There was no dead ball, he ended up playing a little longer than his normal stretch.
“He plays so hard for us — he leaves it all out there — so sometimes he just gets a little bit winded.”