Adrian Griffin Downplays Conflict with Giannis Antetokounmpo Amidst Bucks’ Game

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Amidst the tension during the Bucks’ recent game against the Celtics, coach Adrian Griffin chooses to downplay the apparent conflict with star player Giannis Antetokounmpo, emphasizing a focus on team dynamics and moving forward.

During Wednesday’s game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden, tensions seemed to rise between Milwaukee Bucks’ star Giannis Antetokounmpo and coach Adrian Griffin.

Antetokounmpo’s departure from the game in the third quarter appeared to spark a heated exchange between the two, yet both remained tight-lipped about the incident following the Bucks’ 119-116 loss.

“He wanted to stay in, I wanted to give him a breather. That’s all it was,” Griffin said afterward. “And then I told him to stay at the table for one possession, and he got right back out there.”

Antetokounmpo gave a one-word response when asked for an explanation of what took place:

“No.”

Following a call for a carry resulting in a turnover, Giannis Antetokounmpo, visibly frustrated, glanced at the Bucks’ bench and expressed discontent as Bobby Portis prepared to substitute him.

Walking toward the other end of the court, Antetokounmpo shook his head before sitting on the scorer’s table for an extended conversation with coach Adrian Griffin. The discussion concluded with Antetokounmpo returning to the game during the next break in play.

Irrespective of the Antetokounmpo-Griffin incident, the Celtics dominated the court from the start, securing an unyielding 10-0 lead and maintaining control throughout the game.

They held sway for the initial 44 minutes, eventually allowing the Bucks to mount a ferocious comeback, a characteristic trait of late-game Celtics performances.

Boston, now topping the NBA with a 12-3 record, surged ahead by a remarkable 21-point margin while nailing 17 of their 42 attempts from beyond the arc.

Jaylen Brown delivered his standout performance of the season, notching 26 points on an impressive 10-for-16 shooting, coupled with 8 assists and a mere 1 turnover.

 

“I feel like I’ve been doing it all season long,” Brown said of his playmaking.

“Definitely just another part of my game that I’ve been growing. This is a new year, it’s a new season, and I feel like I’m playing some of my best basketball just how I’m seeing the floor. And as I get into the flow and the rhythm of things, I feel like I’ll be able to continue to do that. I think when I get going, more guys playing off me, trusting that I’m going to make the right read, I think we should go to that a lot more.”

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla expressed contentment with his team’s performance, a stark contrast to his recent critiques about their lack of focus in prior games against Memphis and Charlotte. In the matchup against their formidable rivals, the Celtics displayed an immediate and relentless approach, maintaining dominance for the majority of the game.

Despite Milwaukee’s late surge, outscoring Boston 37-25 in the fourth quarter and narrowing the lead to a single possession in the final minute, Mazzulla found solace in the return of the team’s season-long dedication and effort, which had been somewhat absent in recent outings.

“I was definitely impressed with our mindset,” Mazzulla said. “It’s something we’ve got to fight to keep all the time. But I thought tonight we got our effort back, like real effort. Like, our grit, toughness, and I thought we got our connectivity back on the offensive end where it was like every time someone touched the ball, they were ready to make a play or make a shot.

“I thought the ball had a different type of energy tonight. So we’ve just got to fight for that. I know it’s a long year, but the more we can do that and complement each other, I think the more dangerous we can be.”

On Wednesday, Jrue Holiday faced off against the Bucks for the first time since his trade for Damian Lillard just before this season began. His subsequent acquisition by the Celtics from the Portland Trail Blazers occurred shortly after.

Despite an offensive struggle, shooting at 1-for-8 with a single assist and two turnovers, Holiday played a pivotal defensive role. Throughout the game, he primarily guarded Antetokounmpo, limiting the Bucks’ star to a 7-for-20 performance from the field, ultimately holding him to 21 points.

“I haven’t seen that in a long time,” Bucks forward Khris Middleton, who played a season-high 28 minutes, said with a smile afterward. “But you know, that’s what he does. He’s all over the place guarding different matchups, matchups you didn’t think he would guard or should guard. But that’s how talented that guy is.”

While Holiday didn’t speak to reporters afterward, Lillard did after playing in his first game in this long-standing rivalry. While he understood the importance of Wednesday’s game, Lillard said both sides know there is plenty of basketball left to be played.

“We were fighting to make it a game, and then once we did, you usually don’t get over the hump like that,” said Lillard, who scored 27 points. “They played a game that they deserved to win, and we didn’t.”

 

 

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