Giannis Antetokounmpo insisted Milwaukee’s season had not been a failure after the Bucks crashed out of the playoffs at the first hurdle on Wednesday.
The top-seeded Bucks were bundled out of the Eastern Conference playoffs in stunning fashion, losing 128-126 to Miami in overtime in front of their home crowd at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum.
For the second straight game, Milwaukee collapsed in the fourth quarter, squandering a large double-digit lead as a Jimmy Butler-inspired Miami stormed to victory.
The normally unflappable Antetokounmpo embodied Milwaukee’s implosion, making just 10-of-23 free throws to let Miami off the hook.
“I wasn’t able to make shots. That’s pretty much it,” a disconsolate Antetokounmpo said afterwards.
“If I’d made those shots it would have been a different case… Some days you make it, some days you miss. Today was one of those days.”
But the Greek superstar — one of the front-runners for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award — bristled when asked if felt Milwaukee’s season had been a failure.
“There’s no failure in sports. There’s good days, bad days,” Antetokounmpo said.
“Some days you’re able to be successful, some days you’re not. Some days it’s your turn, and some days it’s not your turn. You don’t always win. And this year some other team is going to win.
“Every year you work towards a goal. There’s steps to success. Michael Jordan played 15 years and won six championships. Were the other nine years a failure?”
Antetokounmpo acknowledged that the sting of defeat would haunt him through the off-season, revealing he would likely “think about it all summer.”
“Everybody handles it differently,” he said. “But for me I’ll remember it, and that I don’t want to be in this situation again. But it’s basketball so I probably will be in this situation again.”
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer also declined to characterise Milwaukee’s season as a failure.
“This team has incredibly high expectations,” Budenholzer said. (General Manager) Jon Horst has put together an amazing roster — the ownership’s done what they’re supposed to do.
“We made a push. We’re the number one seed. But all that matters is the playoffs. I think we’re just disappointed. I would not use that word (failure).
“We’re disappointed, we’re frustrated, it hurts. But I’ve said it all year — we love this team, we love these guys, we believe in them. We didn’t get it done tonight.”
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