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July 10, 2021

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Milwaukee Bucks

Practice Day

Q. Any added excitement knowing you'll be able to play in the NBA Finals in front of the home fans for the first time? Just does it feel like it's something starting a little bit over again, just the fact that you guys are home?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: I'm just here not to get fined. (Laughing) I'm joking. I'm joking.

No, it's going to be fun. It's going to be fun. We know playing in the NBA Finals in front of the fans that have supported us all year long, and it's been (almost) 50 years since we played one here in Milwaukee. For sure, it's going to be exciting.

Q. As you get to 42 points, you hit a number of those mid-range jumpers, those turnarounds that you've been working on. Do you feel like you've had a breakthrough on that at all in the postseason where you're feeling even more comfortable with that shot? It felt like maybe during the Nets series you got to it a couple more times. What are you feeling with that shot and kind of how you use it right now?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: I'm more comfortable, not trying to think about it. Now that you said it, I might go and miss them tomorrow because of you. But, no, I'm feeling more comfortable. I'm just trying to be aggressive, trying to go downhill. Sometimes guys stay in front of me or they create a wall that doesn't allow me to get in the paint. So you got to try to figure out other ways to be effective, whether it's pass the ball or pull up for the mid-range jump shot or get to a spot and then shoot over them. But you just got to feel out ways to be effective. Sometimes you're going to make them. Sometimes you're going to miss them. But you got to keep being aggressive.

My mindset is always try to get downhill, try to make the right play, the right decision, either is that a pass, either is that scoring. But, as I said, sometimes you have to take those shots. You got to keeping the defense guessing. But I feel comfortable, and hopefully moving forward, I can feel more comfortable in those shots and be even more effective.

Q. Why were you worried about getting fined?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: (Laughing) There was the football player, Marshawn Lynch? He said that in his media day. But do I have to do this? This is my first time here. I don't know what I'm doing, man. This is my first time to the NBA Finals. I don't know if I get fined. I don't know if I really have to do this or I can just go home, you know? But probably if I don't do it, they're probably going to fine me. I don't know.

Q. The more serious question, when you decided to commit to the extension, how did you tell the Bucks? Who did you call or who did you text?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: Oh, man, I don't remember. I probably talked with Jon Horst, I think. I think I called him and told him, Yeah, you know, I'm staying, and then just hang up the phone and just went about my day. That was pretty much it.

Q. Were you surprised how well you played, considering it was just your second game back from the knee injury?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: No. No, what I tried to think about, I didn't care about the outcome, stats, or whatever. I just cared about competing and enjoying the game. In the first game, I felt we didn't win. It wasn't my best game numbers-wise. But two things, when I leave the game, I always think about: enjoying the game and competing. In the first game, coming back from my knee, I was able to do that. In the second game, I was able to do that.

So I don't think about my knee injury or how many points I scored or if who win or whatever the case might be. Like, that just makes it more complicated. There's two things: If you enjoy the game and you compete, it puts you in a position to be successful. If you put yourself in a position to be successful, you help the team to be in a position to be successful. So I wasn't thinking about my knee, how my knee felt and how I was able to play.

The two games we've played so far, I was able to compete as hard as I possibly could. I enjoyed the moment, being in my first time NBA Finals. But now going back home, even more enjoy it. Go out there, compete even more, help the team in any way possible, help the team in any way possible to compete and hopefully at the end of the day, we can be the team that put ourselves in a position to win the game.

Now, going to the game you don't know what's going to happen. You can't predict the future. But that's all I care about.

Q. I know you just went through that you only focus on competing and enjoying the game, but did you feel anything different from Game 1 to Game 2 in terms of whether it was your comfort on the court or stuff you could do or even just knocking some rust off after a week off? Or was it just sort of the same from Game 1 to Game 2?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: It was the same. I was just trying to be more aggressive. That's all. We didn't win the game. It doesn't really matter. But from Game 1 to Game 2, I was just trying to be more aggressive, more involved in the actions and stuff.

Q. You talk a lot about trying to have fun and enjoy the moment, and throughout this series, including showing up today, you've seemed to be pretty lighthearted in media sessions and kind of trying to enjoy this. Are you treating this like a special occasion, that you're in the Finals after all the stuff you guys have been through the past few years in getting here? Or is it the same as the conference semifinals or some other playoff series?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: You know, I personally think, obviously, I know it's the Finals. Like, tomorrow, we all understand what kind of game we are getting ourselves into tomorrow. So we know what we got to do. But at the end of the day, you got to keep it light. You cannot tell yourself, Oh, it's the Finals. You got to do this. There's so much pressure, man. No, like, it's still basketball. It's easy to say, hard to do, but at the same time, you have to try to approach it that way. Just got to keep it light. Got to keep the ball light. You got to keep the atmosphere light.

Once we go out there and you see the fans, you know that you understand what kind of game you're into. But me personally, one thing that helps me that I do is keep it light and enjoy that. Knowing I enjoy things, I really like put my heart into it. If I don't enjoy it, I'm just going through the motions. So I just try to enjoy it, enjoy this, try to enjoy that I'm here. We have come a long way to be in this position and we got to try to make the best out of it. That's what we did I guess in the first round, in the second round, in the third round. That's what we'll do now and hopefully it works out in our favor.

Q. Leading up to this, you and Khris have talked about all your one-on-one battles and all that stuff and how your're trusting him in games. I'm curious back then, at those initial stages, when did it become like a friendship and a real kind of bond as opposed to just teammates and we're going at each other trying to find a spot? Did it take a year, two years? When can you kind of recall that?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: I think probably more in the third year, when we were kind of a little more mature, had more minutes on the floor, know our roles. At first, I said in the past, you know, friendly competition, a guy like him from Detroit and I just got drafted. We just tried to get on the floor, going at one another in practices. But throughout the time, there was a lot of times that he proved that he's going to do whatever it takes to help the team win. That's the type of guy that you want next to you.

He lead the team in Atlanta when I was down. He played great. Everybody. Jrue played great. All those guys played great. But he's always there. He's always leading with his voice, leading with his actions. And I've been eight years with him. There's so many times that he proved to me that, yeah, I'm here to do whatever it takes to win also. That's what you kind of like gravitate to, to him. So I think it was probably my third year.

Q. In that fashion, when you guys kind of play your two-man game on the court now, do you kind of know how maybe you can help him get going? Because we kind of know how you can get yourself going. His game is little different. Do you try to screen differently or do you roll differently? You know what I mean? Do you kind of know and feel how you can do that and when do you try to do that?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: Almost every time. He likes a lot of pocket mid-range shots. He likes to jab, move his player. You kind of have to know the angles to screen. Sometimes you come one way, set it the other way so he can shoot the pocket shots from the other way. There's so many things. Sometimes I touch some guys and roll hard and the guys come with me and he gets a wide-open three. I know things to do to help him get open. I try to do it as much as possible throughout the game whenever I physically can. That's pretty much it.

Q. You only had to play against Chris Paul twice a year throughout the course of your career just because he's been out West and you've been here. Now that you see him up close and in a consistent way, do you allow yourself to be impressed by him? Is there anything that sort of surprises you about the way that he kind of controls games?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: No. He's a really good player. This is year 17 for him, year 16?

Q. 16.

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: 16. It's amazing everything that he's accomplished. It's amazing that he can still play at that high level. Growing up, like, we all knew who Chris Paul was. But at the same time, you got to go out there and compete. This is the NBA Finals, this is the playoffs. You got to compete against those guys. But he's a great player and he's proven it year after year after year. He's helping his team do some great stuff right now. But at the end of the day, as much as you always appreciate greatness and respect it, because you respect the history of the game, we got to compete against him. We got to make it as tough as possible for him, and that's what we're going to try to do. But at the same time, we appreciate everything he's done and the way he's played in year 16. I think he's like 34, 35 years old? It's --

Q. 36.

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: 36? It's pretty high level. But at the same time, we got to guard him. We got to compete against him. We got to try to figure out ways to make it tough on him to win.

Q. What did you learn in the first couple of games in Phoenix about that series? And how different is the dynamic of the team at Fiserv Forum, because you have seven wins in eight games?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: We got to play better. We got to compete harder to put ourselves in a position to win. I'm trying not to think about playing at home -- winning at home, that doesn't really matter. It's still basketball. You still have to play basketball. You still have to go out there and do the things to help your team win and put yourself in a position to win. So, yeah, that's it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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