LA, November 7: Giannis Antetokounmpo may have been "excited" about facing Kawhi Leonard, but the reigning MVP admitted his life was made easier by the Los Angeles Clippers star's absence in the Milwaukee Bucks' 129-124 success.
Leonard, who joined the Clippers in the offseason after leading the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title, missed Wednesday's game as he is dealing with a slight knee problem, and Antetokounmpo took full advantage, scoring 38 points and making four of his seven attempts from beyond the arc.
The Clippers are in action again on Thursday against the Portland Trail Blazers, and Leonard has not played on back-to-back nights since April 2017 when he was with the San Antonio Spurs, with both the Raptors and Clippers managing his minutes since.
"Every organisation has their own way that they operate," Antetokounmpo told reporters.
"I was excited to play against one of the best players in the league, I think that brings out the best of you.
The best from The Greek Freak:
38 PTS | 16 REB | 9 AST | 2 BLK | 2 STL pic.twitter.com/75NGqBanWE— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) November 7, 2019
" I'm not going to say I was disappointed. If Kawhi was playing, you know you're going to have a tough night. You've got to guard him and score. I'm excited to see him in the future.
"I'm motivated when I play against anybody but obviously when you play against Kawhi - one of the best players in the league - you're going to have a little bit of extra juice in you."
Antetokounmpo's brilliant 2018-19 season led to him winning his first MVP award, and the Greek has started the new campaign in even more impressive fashion.
The 24-year-old is the first player in NBA history with 200 points, 100 rebounds and 50 assists through the first eight games of a season.
"He played the whole fourth quarter and was fabulous," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer added.