NBA

Bucks must learn from big loss without Giannis, warns coach Griffin

By Sports Desk January 18, 2024

The Milwaukee Bucks expect to have Giannis Antetokounmpo back on the court soon, but coach Adrian Griffin wants his team to learn from their humbling defeat without the two-time former MVP.

Antetokounmpo sat out Wednesday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers and saw the Bucks beaten 135-95 in his absence.

The superstar forward had played in each of Milwaukee's previous 29 games, although he was also on the injury report before Sunday's overtime win against the Sacramento Kings, scoring 27 points towards his seasonal average of 31.2 points per game.

While taking on an in-form Cavaliers team without Antetokounmpo was always likely to be a tough ask, Griffin offered the Bucks no excuses.

Indeed, he was particularly dismayed by the way in which Cleveland were allowed to race into a 22-2 lead less than halfway through the first quarter. Donovan Mitchell scored 12 of those 22 points on his way to 31 for the night.

"[It was a] tough night collectively," said Griffin, "but we've got to find the energy from the jump – especially being short-handed.

"You have to learn from this, because you can't allow this to happen again, especially at the start of the game.

"Before we looked up, we were down 20. We would literally come down and just shoot."

A big loss for the 28-13 Bucks allowed the 32-9 Boston Celtics to pull further clear at the top of the Eastern Conference, 117-98 victors over the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs' number one overall draft pick Victor Wembanyama scored 27 in his first game in Boston, but he was more impressed by the Celtics.

"Everybody can hoop on that team," said the French rookie. "Everyone's a threat on the court.

"But at the same time, they all know their roles, and they're all willing to share the ball, from the most important franchise guys to the role players.

"Everybody is ready to compete and to make the sacrifices."

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