NBA

NBA Playoffs 2021: Bobby Portis brings infectious energy after moving into starting lineup for injured Giannis Antetokounmpo

By his own admission, Bobby Portis had multiple options in free agency last offseason, with a number of teams willing to ink the big man to a deal.

Portis chose Milwaukee despite the fact Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez occupied the major minutes at his position.

When asked about the reasons why he believed Milwaukee was a good fit, he revealed he simply wanted to win, with only six total playoff appearances to his name across his first five seasons as an NBA player.

Preparing for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Portis got word from head coach Mike Budenhozler that we would be replacing the injured Antetokounmpo in the starting lineup. He told Budenholzer he was ready to go and he followed through on his word, tallying 22 points to go along with eight rebounds, three assists and three steals in an eye-catching performance.

"I was just tying to stay locked in. Knowing that Giannis went down and we had to step up, that's what makes the game so much better," Portis said.

"You have to stay locked in and stay in the moment and be ready. I didn't play in the last couple games of the Brooklyn series but I didn't pout, I just kept working and knew my time was going to come. I always just believe that when you do things the right wat it will always come back around, the cream always rises to the top. I just tried to stay in the moment and be a team guy."

Quickly becoming a fan favourite in Milwaukee, Portis drew a huge smile when reminded of the chants of "Bobby, Bobby, Bobby" that could be heard at regular intervals during the night.

"Milwaukee's a tough city. When they see somebody that gives his all and works hard, it's a blue-collar city and I'm a blue-collar player. Whether I'm making shots, whether or not they are going in I still give my all for the city, for the name on the front of the jersey and they love players like that."

Head coach Mike Budenholzer described Portis' energy as "infectious", with Milwaukee shaking off slow starts in Game 3 and 4 to open up an early 20-point lead.

"He plays with great passion. I think his passion is infectious," said Budenholzer.

"His teammates love him, the fans love him. He brings that passion for the game, for life, he's fun to be around, the crowd can feel that. He works, he's a worker too, so a little bit of everything but passion for me is the thing he brings to the game."

As for that free agency decision, Portis regrets nothing, despite having to wait for his opportunity at times, he stuck true to his word and stayed ready, delivering a pivotal performance on the biggest stage of his professional career.

In typical fashion, Portis credits his teammates and coaches for helping foster the growth that saw him overcome an inconsistent start to his career despite the obvious immense talent he possesses.

"Coming here was one of the best decisions for my career. I started my career kinda shaky, lot of highs and a lot of lows as well," Portis admitted.

"When you first come to the NBA you don't really understand the journey. Coming from college I was the best player on my team, player of the year, All-American in high school so when I fist got to the league I didn't really understand and was lost in a shuffle a bit.

"The journey is what makes it sweet in the NBA. Coming here was the best decision of my career, having good veterans like Giannis and Brook coach me up on how to be a two-way player and things like that. Having coaches like Coach Bud and Coach Ham just believe in me, it was a great business decision."

With a historic trip to the NBA Finals just a single win away and the status of Antetokounmpo up in the air, the Bucks will be hoping the sequel is just enjoyable as the original when it comes to Portis in the postseason starting lineup.

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