Nobody is off to a better start than Giannis Antetokounmpo and the 22-year-old “Greek Freak” looks to continue his excellence when the Milwaukee Bucks host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday. Antetokounmpo leads the NBA with a 34.7 scoring average and has four double-doubles while shooting 63.1 percent from the field.
Antetokounmpo contributed 33 points and 11 rebounds in Sunday’s 117-106 road win over the Atlanta Hawks to post his fifth 30-point outing of the season while early season MVP chatter revolves around his name. “To be honest it’s really hard not to pay attention turning on the TV and seeing your face everywhere,” Antetokounmpo told reporters after Sunday’s win. “But I’m a low-profile guy and I want to stay like that because it’s a long season. I’ve got to help my team win.” Oklahoma City boasts the reigning MVP on its roster in Russell Westbrook and he became the first player in NBA history to post a triple-double against 29 different opponents when he had 12 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists in the Thunder’s 101-69 rout of the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. “It’s really his mentality that I have great respect for and an admiration that I love,” Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan told reporters. “He’s an old-school, just bring it - he just has certain values in the way the game is supposed to be played from a competitive standpoint.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBATV, FSN Oklahoma, FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee)
ABOUT THE THUNDER (3-3): Adding forwards Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to the mix has kept Oklahoma City in the chemistry developing mode but the new stars definitely have been amazed by Westbrook’s level of competitiveness. “It’s special. Man, that’s a special player,” George said after the victory over Chicago. “He’s solidifying himself early as a Hall of Famer. It was crazy to see playing against him, and it’s even crazier to see him doing it night in and night out being on his team. It’s crazy. There’s not a player that’s been in this league that’s been at his (effort) level.” Westbrook is averaging 20.8 points, 12.2 assists and 9.8 rebounds while Anthony is averaging a team-best 23.8 points and George is at 19.5.
ABOUT THE BUCKS (4-2): Valuable backup center Greg Monroe will be sidelined at least two more weeks due to a left calf strain that he aggravated in Thursday’s contest against the Boston Celtics. Monroe initially injured the calf in training camp and he was unavailable against the Hawks on Sunday, leading to Monday’s decision to shut him down to give the injury a chance to heal. John Henson is in line for a primary role while Monroe is sidelined and he recorded season highs of 12 points and nine rebounds against Atlanta.
1. The teams split two meetings last season with the Bucks prevailing 98-94 in the meeting in Milwaukee.
2. Milwaukee SG Khris Middleton posted season bests of 27 points and nine assists in the win over Atlanta.
3. Oklahoma City averages a league-best 11.5 steals per game with George accumulating a team-best 16.
PREDICTION: Thunder 114, Bucks 113