Thon Maker figures to have flashbacks to countless one-on-one battles with Giannis Antetokounmpo when he steps onto the court Sunday.
Those were in practice. Now, Maker must deal with The Greek Freak in games, when the Detroit Pistons face the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs.
What is the key to defending the incredibly athletic and explosive 6-11 MVP candidate? Get help, and plenty of it.
“It’s not a one-man effort, you got to have the whole team locked in,” Maker said. “He commands a lot. He sees the double-team, picks that apart. He’s a high IQ player, so you’re not going over there thinking you’re going to guard him one-on-one, and strategically, you got to know what you got to do as a team.”
Ideally, Maker’s minutes on Antetokounmpo will be limited. But that might not be the case because Blake Griffin’s status for the opener at Fiserv Forum is unknown. Even if Griffin can play, how effective will he be on his ailing left knee?
It’s a huge challenge. Antetokounmpo was third in the NBA in scoring (27.7 points per game) and sixth in rebounding (12.5). He can pass, too (5.9 assists per game).