NBA

Giannis: Depth & culture key to Bucks surviving Bledsoe absence

By Sports Desk December 15, 2019

The Milwaukee Bucks need to make the most of their depth and harness the team's winning culture to keep winning without Eric Bledsoe, according to Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Point guard Bledsoe will be out for two weeks with the right fibula avulsion fracture suffered in the Bucks' win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.

Milwaukee claimed a 125-108 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers without Bledsoe on Saturday.

The Bucks have won 18 successive games, two shy of their franchise-record run of 20 set in 1971, taking them to 24-3.

Reigning league MVP Antetokounmpo believes they have the resources to thrive in Bledsoe's absence, also suggesting a lay-off of his own would not impact the team's playoff hopes.

"It's tough, one of the best players in the team, he's been playing amazing the whole season, obviously a big piece of the team," Antetokounmpo told reporters.

"We all wish Bled a fast recovery, come back healthy. This team will be exactly how it is right now when he gets back.

"We did it when Khris [Middleton] missed a lot of games - we were able to win games without him. We've got to do it without Bled, and if I ever miss games, they've got to do it without me.

"We've built a winning culture around the team and everybody knows what we've got to do when we step on the floor.

"This team is deep. We've got a deep team, it's insane. It doesn't matter if Bled isn't playing, I'm not playing - I think this team could be a playoff team, it could be a 50-win team.

"Khris, Bled, me, all the other guys, we're big pieces, big parts of this team. At the end of the day, if we miss games, other guys got to get the job done. So far we've been doing that."

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    Last season's Rookie of the Year Doncic made a career-high eight three-pointers and had 35 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as the Mavs defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 120-112 at American Airlines Center on Friday.

    Anthony had 22 points for the Blazers, who slipped to an 18-25 record and sit 2.5 games back of the playoff positions in the Western Conference.

    When the 10-time All-Star was informed Doncic had referred to him as a "walking bucket", he returned the compliment.

    Anthony continued: "As far as Luka goes, he's gonna be in this league for a long time.

    "He's a young player and he's gonna get better and better. For years to come we're gonna to be watching a special player.

    "I hope you guys out here in Dallas really appreciate what you have in front of you right now."

    Anthony, who in November joined the Blazers after nine months without a team having been waived by the Chicago Bulls following his trade from the Houston Rockets, became the 18th player to reach 26,000 career points when he scored a free throw in the first quarter in Dallas.

    "This is a situation where I've always continued to believe in myself and I think with that being the case I'm able to still go out there and perform the way I want to be able to perform and enjoy the game again," he said.

    "I think people understand the situation I was in, but most important I think people understand the type of person I am. When you have that organic natural energy, people pick up on those vibes."

    Portland lost CJ McCollum to a left ankle sprain in the second quarter and he did not return to the game. It is unclear if he will be fit to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday.

    "Usually, the second day is the worst," McCollum said. "So we'll see how it feels [on Saturday]. Get some treatment, try to compress it and see how it feels."

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    The Nets are eighth in the Eastern Conference with an 18-22 record for the season, with pacesetters the Milwaukee Bucks next up on Saturday.

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