MILWAUKEE -- Finding something Giannis Antetokounmpo hasn't done yet in his career may be even more difficult than trying to guard him. The Toronto Raptors couldn't do the latter on Sunday night in the Milwaukee Bucks' 118-111 win, and as a result Antetokounmpo did the former.
Antetokounmpo finished with 22 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for his fourth triple-double of the season. Even more impressive, he did so on 9-of-9 from the field to register just the 13th triple-double on 100% shooting in NBA history. He is the ninth player to accomplish the feat and the first since Nikola Jokic earlier this season. Antetokounmpo's nine field goals are tied for the fourth-most shot attempts of the 13 such games.
"It was like a pitcher with a perfect game," Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said. "At the end of the day it is fascinating to go 9-of-9 from the field and have at triple-double. I'm a little surprised it's happened 13 times. It seems like a rarity. Not a huge stat guy or historian, but yeah, he's special."
Antetokounmpo got his night started with a rare 3-pointer from the right wing just a few minutes into the game, and from there he was off. As per usual, he did most of his work around the rim, knifing through the defense for an array of dunks and layups. When he couldn't find a path to the basket because the Raptors sent multiple defenders his way, he made the right pass time and again.
During his postgame press conference, as he sat with the game ball in his lap in honor of his record-setting 712th game with the franchise, Antetokounmpo gave a fascinating breakdown of his decision-making process.
"Just play to my instincts," Antetokounmpo said. "Sometimes I'm gonna keep the ball a little bit longer because I have a lane to drive the ball; I'm just waiting for the guy to commit to me or go back to the guy he's guarding. A lot of times I might just hold the ball for a second and the guy just leaves. Before, whenever I saw two guys I needed to pass the ball. Now, sometimes I'm not in a rush. I've been double-teamed so many times I kinda slow down, take my time. Sometimes with the double-team, they think in their head that you're gonna pass the ball and you can take advantage and rip it baseline or rip it over the top to go downhill. Sometimes they're so committed to it they want me to pass the ball. I just pull them out as much as I can, until I can find the clear and best pass possible.
"But again, it's instincts, it's all instincts. It's not something that I'm doing consciously. I'm not thinking about it, it's all instincts. Sometimes I see the pass there and just gonna make it quick because I believe the quicker I make it he's gonna be able to set his feet and knock down the shot. And sometimes I'm gonna wait a bit because I know he's just bluffing, it's not a real double-team."
The historical aspect of his performance was not as interesting to the Greek Freak -- at least not in the moment.
"I'm happy we were able to get a win, get back on track," Antetokounmpo said. "When you're in the moment it moves that fast, you don't slow down and appreciate it. Maybe when I'm older and I'm done and gonna look back like, 'Oh, that was cool I was able to do that, now I'm not able to run or jump or chase my kids.' Right now, when you're into it, it moves too fast."