With Giannis Antetokounmpo dealing through a knee injury, these three Milwaukee Bucks teammates of his have to step up big time in the 2021 NBA Finals vs. the Phoenix Suns.
After sweeping the Miami Heat in round one, the Bucks needed seven games and then six games to get past the Brooklyn Nets and the Atlanta Hawks to reach their first NBA Finals since 1974. While the supporting cast came up big once Antetokounmpo went down with a knee injury in Game 4 vs. Atlanta, that group will need to be even better to upend favored Phoenix in the finals.
Look for these three Milwaukee starters to step up big time to offset Antetokounmpo’s injury.
Milwaukee Bucks: Who will step up in Giannis Antetokounmpo’s absence?
C Milwaukee Bucks
Brook Lopez can be quite the offensive mismatch at the center position
If there was one constant throughout the Bucks’ series victory over Atlanta, it was that Milwaukee could get whatever it wanted in the paint. It continued after Antetokounmpo bowed out in Game 4 of that best-of-seven series. One player who stepped up marvelously to allow the Bucks to win it in six was center Brook Lopez. When he played well vs. Atlanta, the Bucks dominated the Hawks.
Lopez has always been a skilled scorer in the low-post and in the mid-range as a traditional back-to-the-basket center. What has been a pleasant surprise in the last few years is he has extended his shooting range to beyond the arc while in Milwaukee uniform. This has led to him being a rather challenging center for most teams to defend. He has proven he can carry the Bucks offense.
Though he is firmly on the wrong side of 30-years-old, Lopez could make life difficult for emerging Suns star center Deandre Ayton defensively. While Lopez may not be playing above the rim as much as he did vs. Atlanta, his impressive shooting stroke will allow the Bucks to spread the floor to better attack the Phoenix defense. His offensively versatility will be very important for them.
Lopez can be the Bucks’ third-best player each night in this series, but he still will need some help.