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July 17, 2021

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Milwaukee Bucks

Game 5 Postgame

Milwaukee Bucks 123, Phoenix Suns 119

Q. Getting the news, how was Thanasis able to deal with that type of thing before the game?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: It was extremely difficult because I know how bad he wanted to be here and to help the team, be around the team and cheer for the team and give the energy that he always gives to everybody, because everybody feels his energy. But at the end of the day we have to do our job. We have to come out here and try to play good basketball, try to win the game.

As much as it hurts everybody that he's not here, and me even more, we still got to do our job. We know that he's supporting us. He was sending me messages personally. We were able to do our job even though he was not here to give that energy he gives all the time from the bench.

Q. Speaking of the bench, to open the second quarter, what was your vantage point? What did you see from your teammates as they started that run, and then even with the timeout, Bud decided to roll with it and still have you sit?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: Great momentum. We were able to keep our composure. We were making our shots, we were getting downhill and we were defending. We were down 16. That's what our team is about. You can go the other way and go, yeah, okay, this is not the night. No, we kept playing hard, especially that group that (led the comeback). They kept moving the ball, kept getting open shots and they were knocking it down, too. They played great. They played great in that stretch.

Q. Did the hotel room survive? I feel like Thanasis would be jumping on the bed, throwing couches around.

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: Just because I know him a little better, he's probably screaming in front of the TV, and probably in the last possession, he probably took his shirt off and started playing defense, sweating, jumping on the bed.

Once the game was over, he FaceTimed me. I could see that he was extremely happy. He was watching every single moment of the game and he was cheering us on.

Q. Can you walk me through the steal by Jrue? We talked the other night about your defensive block, and that steal I feel is kind of on the same level as far as importance.

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: Yeah, big time. Big time. Big-time steal. Showing a crowd, they didn't get to the spot and he came from behind and ripped the ball out. He can go down to the other end and just, you know, go for like a full play, run the clock down. But he trusted me and made an incredible pass, also, for the lob. It was big time. It was a big-time play. It was the winning play of the game.

But that's what we need from Jrue. We need him to keep defending. We need him to keep being great defensively. But things like that, that's what makes him elite.

Q. He said you yelled.


Q. When did you know you had the lane?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: I saw him going there. I saw Chris Paul and then I started sprinting, and I saw nobody was around me. He didn't want to throw me the ball at first, but I was like, Throw it, throw it, throw it.

And then he threw it. He trusted me. After the game I was like, Thank you for trusting me. He could throw it and make a wrong pass and that would be on him as the point guard. The coach would say, You're supposed to keep the ball. But he trusted me and he knows I'm going to finish the play. That says a lot to me. I went up to him after the game and I told him that, too.

Q. You've seen how the city has rallied around you guys, 25,000 people outside. Winning this one here tonight, what's it mean to go home and have a chance to win an NBA title in front of the home fans?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: Oh, man, it means a lot. But I can't get too carried away. I have to stay in the present. I can't worry about the outcome.

Obviously we know what the deal is. It's one game away from being an NBA champ, being in the history of this game, being always there. You know, nobody can take that away from you. Doing it in front of our families and our fans, it's big. It's going to be big.

That can wait. We've got to focus and keep playing good basketball. We've got to go back home and we've got to recover. I've got to grab some burgers, eat something right now, because I'm hungry. And then we've got to watch the clips and see what we did well, what we didn't do well what can we do better. There's steps to it before the game.

If we do all these things right and we are disciplined, once the game starts and we play good basketball and we have the energy of the fans because we know they are going to be loud, and we have an opportunity to win the NBA championship, it's going to be amazing to do it in front of our fans.

But there's more steps until we get there. To answer your question, it's going to be amazing. It's going to be awesome to do it in front of our fans, but there's steps to it.

Q. The mental discipline that you're talking about of not focusing on the outcome, something that you've talked about that you worked on to kind of refocus and not necessarily be as outcome-oriented. How much of a test is that now, one win away, for that process for you?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: It's a test. It's a big, big test. You've got to enjoy the moment. We have to enjoy the moment. Winning a game on the road, we have to enjoy the moment.

But the job is not done. We have to realize that. We have got to stay in the present. It doesn't mean we are going to go back home and win Game 6. Probably Phoenix thought the same thing: They were going to come back home and win Game 5. Come to Milwaukee, try to win again.

But we've got to stay humble. We've got to be in the present and stay humble as much as possible. When this team is humble, this team is very, very dangerous. I feel we play at our best when we are humble.

There's steps to it, as I said. When the game starts, we have to take it a possession at a time and hopefully we can be in a position to win the game. If we are in a good position to win the game, we have great closers on our team -- Jrue, Khris, me -- that we have an opportunity to win the game.

Q. I'm just wondering, the resilience that this team has shown, whether it was tonight being down big in a quarter or if it's being down 0-2, is that a learned behavior or is that innate, to learn as a team to be this resilient?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: I feel like we don't stop. I feel like -- I've been a part of different teams. Usually when you're down 15 or 16 or whatever, down 0-2 or whatever the case might be, you kind of like, stop. You kind of like -- you kind of stop competing in a way.

But I feel like this team, we don't do that. We haven't done that all year long, I think. I can't remember, I can't go that far back, but we keep competing.

As I said in the last press conference, we didn't know we were going to win this game. We could still compete, compete, compete until the last minute and still lose the game. But we don't stop. We keep coming. And this team does that so well. Even if we're down 0-2, we're down 0-1, we're down 16 points, we keep coming, we keep competing, because we know the game is long; it's 48 minutes, and we always try to put ourselves in a position to win the game. That's all you can ask for. You go into a game, you don't know if you're going to win the game but you know if we compete for 48 minutes, we are good. We have great players, great closers, great shooters, great rebounders, great defenders, have a great coach and we know that we can put ourselves in a position to win the game.

Q. First of all, what you were dealing with when you first came in, is it cramping? Something else?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: I was a little bit dehydrated. I was a little bit dehydrated. I'm a softy, but it's okay.

Q. You've got me hungry now. The burgers sound good.

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: Yeah, with some french fries.

Q. We know where to go. We'll meet you there. A lot of the mental stuff you talked about yesterday, it seemed like it was coming to fruition in the later moments of this game, so you missed two free throws with a minute to go, and Monty ices you, Jae Crowder bumps you on the way to the line, Chris Paul seemed like he tried to get at you a bit.


Q. They are trying to get under your skin but you can't disengage because seconds later Jrue is trying to find you above the rim for the play of the game. Is that a lot of what you talked about yesterday?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: Yeah, it's being in the moment. You know, not going to lie, I'm always real. I feel like that's what makes me who I am. I'm always real. Sometimes I go to the free throw line and I'm nervous a little bit, you know, but this time, I wasn't nervous at all because I was so dialed in. I just missed.

But I'm happy. I live with it because I shot my routine, I did exactly what I always do, and I just missed. But there's going to be times that they are going to talk, the opposing players are going to talk, the crowd is going to yell. But just got to keep playing through that. Keep playing, keep your composure and just keep trying to do whatever is possible to help the team win.

Like even when we missed, we were able to tip the ball back to Khris and he made them. I could put my head down and just be like, oh, missed the free throw, whatever the case might be, but no, I kept playing. That's what I do. That's how I'm built.

Q. You mentioned Jrue trusting you on that lob play on that last sequence. Why did you want the lob there and how come you didn't want him to run up the clock? What was going through your mind and why did you call for that lob?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: Exactly. I don't know. (Laughter).

You know, I was so in the moment. I wasn't worried about the clock. I wasn't worried about the crowd. I wasn't worried about nothing. I was worried about, I had the open lane and throw it up, and he trusted me.

Now if we put it all down now, there was, what, 20 seconds on the clock. Jrue, if you put it all down, he'll go traditionally, yeah pull it back out, give the ball to Khris, let's run a high pick-and-roll and probably they're going to fall in, going to go to the free throw line. But sometimes when you're so much in the moment, you just react.

Q. You've talked a lot about trust during this series. This is Jrue's first year with the team. What were the things that led to you trusting him knowing that maybe if he has a bad night offensively, he contributes other ways, how did that trust develop there? And maybe if you can describe what it takes for his defensive effort to do what he has to do on a nightly basis?

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO: Yeah, it takes a lot out of his body to do what he does on a nightly basis. Pick the point guard up full court, and then bring the ball up, put the whole team in order, in position, execute, try to score, try to get downhill, try to find the open man. Like, it's a lot, you know. But we trust him that he can do that.

But one thing, the great thing about Jrue is that he can affect the game in a lot of ways. He can have an off night, but he can defend. Like Game 4, he didn't have his best offensive night, but he was so good defensively. He got the steal at the end from Chris Paul -- Chris Paul I think, and he got the steal today, too. You know, he can affect the game in so many ways, and it says a lot.

I love being teammates with him and I hope moving forward we can be teammates for a lot of years.

Thank you, guys. Sorry for waiting, guys. Sorry.

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