The Miami Heat upset the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Bucks had the best record in the NBA regular season and entered the game as 6-point favorites, yet the Heat ended up on top with a 115-104 win.
Jimmy Butler carried the load for Erik Spoelstra's side with a 40-point performance. Moreover, he took over in clutch time and scored 14 of his team's final 16 points, as well as getting a huge steal over George Hill to seal the win.
That's why many people questioned and called out Giannis Antetokounmpo for not embracing the challenge of guarding Butler one-on-one, especially considering he was just named Defensive Player of the Year.
Jimmy Butler explained why Giannis Antetokounmpo didn't guard him late in Game 1
Giannis said he didn't ask for that defensive assignment because he's going to do whatever the coach asks him to do. Butler, on the other hand, sided with him and claimed that he wasn't surprised to see him stay in the weakside.
“Uh, no. I’m not surprised. I look at it like this. He is one of the best help-side defenders that there are in the league. And that’s what he’s been doing all year long. And I think you can’t get stuck on what we do. I think you’ve really just got to focus on what you do – you’ve been doing it all year," Butler told The Athletic.
“Nah, I’m not surprised. If he switches out…and he’s guarding me, you know we’re going to do what we have to do to still win. But I’m gonna tell you: You’re not going to be able to leave me, so then that’s taking away their weakside defense. So either way it goes, we’re gonna be in a good spot. We’ve got way more guys who can do what I just did last night better than I can do, so we’ll see," Jimmy concluded.
Former NBA players and fans claimed Giannis choked and wasn't a true competitor for not taking the challenge of guarding Butler in clutch-time. Now, we'll have to see how he responds in Game 2 of the series.