NBA

Leonard's experience made a difference, admits Antetokounmpo

By Sports Desk May 26, 2019

Giannis Antetokounmpo acknowledged that Kawhi Leonard's playoff experience was key to the Toronto Raptors' Eastern Conference Finals win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

The series was billed as Antetokounmpo against Leonard - and the former gained the early advantage when his Bucks opened up a 2-0 lead with back-to-back victories at home.

However, Milwaukee could not build on their early advantage and lost the next four on the spin, finishing with Saturday's 100-94 reverse in Toronto that sent the Raptors through to their first NBA Finals.

While Toronto will be breaking new ground as a franchise, star man Leonard has won the title before with the San Antonio Spurs.

"You can tell [his experience] from the way he was playing - not just in this series but the previous series [against the Philadelphia 76ers], as well," Antetokounmpo told a news conference.

"The way he plays, he has so much patience. He knows what he's going to do, he has confidence in himself and he has the experience. He's been here before, he's been to the Finals multiple times.

"He played well and he did everything he could to help his team win. He was a tough guy to guard for our team."

Milwaukee appeared to suffer when their star player was stifled by the Raptors' defensive strategy, yet the MVP candidate had no frustrations with the way his team played.

"I don't think anything has to change," Antetokounmpo said. "At the end of the day, we just have to trust one another.

"The [Raptors'] game plan was to double-team me, make me not get a rhythm, but what I did was trusted my team-mates, which is what I've done all year.

"If, for us, we lose by doing that, by trusting one another, by moving the ball, by doing what we've done all year, that's okay."

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