New York, October 19: Giannis Antetokounmpo said "there's nobody in this world that can slow down" Kevin Durant as reigning NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks begin their title defence against the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday (October 19).
All eyes will be on Antetokounmpo and Durant when the two Eastern Conference rivals go head-to-head in Milwaukee on opening night.
Milwaukee defeated Brooklyn in a seven-game Eastern Conference semi-finals series en route to their first NBA title in 50 years last term.
As Antetokounmpo and Durant prepare to clash in a battle of the former MVPs, the Bucks superstar called for a team approach in trying to nullify the Nets forward.
24 hours until we celebrate once more. pic.twitter.com/6We3ZfDIHk— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 18, 2021
"We have got to do it as a team," Antetokounmpo told reporters. "There's nobody in this world that can slow down KD.
"One of the best players in the world. Can score the ball from everywhere. We've got to do it as a team. If Khris [Middleton] is going to start on him, if I'm going to start on him, we don't know.
"But no matter what the assignment is, no matter what the game plan is, what coach tells us to do, we have to also do it."
In 10 games against the Nets across the regular season and postseason, Antetokounmpo only once scored fewer than 30 points. He averaged 61.5 points/assists/rebounds per 48 minutes and had an effective field-goal percentage of 57.9.
In three of those games, Durant went over 40 points, with the two-time Finals MVP averaging 58.5 points/assists/rebounds per 48 minutes and posting an effective field-goal percentage of 55.6.
However, Durant's plus-minus across all meetings with the Bucks was minus 18 compared to plus 26 for Antetokounmpo, perhaps speaking to his lack of support in the postseason.
The Bucks will raise their 2021 title banner and receive their championship rings prior to tip-off against the star-studded Nets.
"I want my ring to be bigger than my brothers."
Giannis has some thoughts on what the ring should look like. pic.twitter.com/fofFcYCZRU— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 19, 2021
Giannis Antetokounmpo's brother Kostas won the 2020 NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers.
"I said let me keep it very, very simple," Giannis Antetokounmpo added in reference to the ring design. "I’m not competitive, guys. I said, I want my ring to be bigger than my brother’s.
"When Kostas, my brother, showed me his ring, it was huge. It was like an airpod case. I said at least, you know, you guys don’t sell us short, give us a big ring also."