Giannis Antetokounmpo had a chance to force overtime for the Milwaukee Bucks in their season opener versus the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on Wednesday night, but he was unable to tie the score with a free throw at the end of the fourth quarter.
Antetokounmpo was fouled by Celtics center Tristan Thompson with 0.4 seconds remaining in regulation and stepped up to the line with a chance to tie the score at 122. He sank the first attempt but missed the second, allowing time to run out on Milwaukee’s hopes for a win.
The two-time reigning MVP was understandably frustrated with how the final moments played out.
“I’m upset about it,” Antetokounmpo told reporters. “But you can’t change it. So it’s done. I missed the second one, hopefully when I’m in a similar position I can get the next one. That’s the mentality you’ve got to have.”
Those are the moments that the greatest players relish, and to Antetokounmpo’s credit, he’s looking forward to being in a lot more of those situations.
“It’s fun because you learn from it,” Antetokounmpo said. “The more you’re in situations like that, the more you can succeed. The more you can get the best out of moments like that. I want to be in those moments. I want to (be the guy) down the stretch. I want to shoot the last two free throws, I want to shoot the last shot, because if you think about it, if you do that a thousand times, some of the times it’s going to go in.
“Some of the times, you’re going to be the hero. And some of the times you’re going to miss, but you learn from it.”
Antetokounmpo is arguably the most talented player in the league. And he played very well against the Celtics, scoring a game-high 35 points with 13 rebounds and two blocks.
One thing that Antetokounmpo has worked hard to improve on since being drafted in 2013 is free throw shooting. After converting 70-plus percent of his free throws from 2014-15 through 2018-19, Antetokounmpo dropped to 63.3 percent from the line last season. He was a solid 6-of-8 on these attempts against the Celtics, but unfortunately for the Bucks, one of those misses proved decisive.
Antetokounmpo will be in plenty more of these pressure-packed moments throughout the season, and while it’s unclear whether he’ll be successful, his attitude about them is exactly what the Bucks would want.
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