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Playoffs 2019

NBA Playoffs 2019: Giannis Antetokounmpo on Bucks' Conference Finals elimination: 'I think it's the start of a long journey'

Giannis Antetokounmpo
(NBA Getty Images)

Heading into the playoffs after winning 60 games in the regular season, the Milwaukee Bucks had suffered consecutive losses just once.

The playoffs were a different story as they lost four straight to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals, despite leading the series 2-0 after the first two games in Milwaukee.

In a must-win Game 6, the Bucks led by 15 points with 2:18 left in the third quarter and that's when everything changed.

The Toronto Raptors went on a furious 26-3 run, capped off by a Kawhi Leonard leftie dunk that got them back into the game and eventually helped them seal their first-ever NBA Finals berth.

"Obviously, we were playing really well in the [first] half and in the third quarter. We know Toronto is a great team and they are going to make runs but the team just tried to stay focused," said Giannis Antetokounmpo in regards to the Raptors run.

"The team just tried to move the ball, trust one another, execute and we knew that we were going to make a run but we obviously, weren't able to rebound the ball and run in transition to get easy points. That's why we lost the lead."

With this loss, the Bucks became the sixth team in postseason history to lose after holding a 2-0 series lead in the Conference Finals.

"Obviously, when you are up 2-0, that doesn't mean anything," Antetokounmpo said when asked what he would take away from this series.

"You got to learn how to come out and close out games, especially after Game 3. We got to get better as a team and we got to get better individually. I think it's the start of a long journey and we are going to get better. We are going to come back next year and believe in who we are, believe in what we have built this year and hopefully, we can be in the same situation next year and be the ones moving forward."

When the Greek Freak says he will be better, you better listen. Through each of his last five seasons, Antetokounmpo has consistently improved across most major statistical categories, averaging a career-high in points, rebounds and assists in 2018/19, with another big summer of work on the horizon.

"Obviously, I got to go back home and spend time with my family. After that, I'm going to make sure I get in contact with the coaching staff to see what we can work as a team and how can I get better individually," Antetokounmpo added. "It's something that I take pride in, getting better in the offseason.

"So, hopefully, now, I can work on the right things, listen to my coaches on what they think I can get better at. Work my butt off, come again back next year and just be a better basketball player and a better teammate."

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