Friday was an interesting and exciting night in the NBA. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks took on the Utah Jazz, who have been on fire this season, while LeBron James and the LA Lakers hosted the Memphis Grizzlies in a game that saw the Purple and Gold trail 22-2 in the first quarter.
The Jazz defeated the Bucks for their 21st win of the season. Meanwhile, behind LeBron and Anthony Davis, the Lakers erased a 20-point deficit against the Grizzlies and won at home for their seventh consecutive victory.
During his postgame media session with Bucks reporters, Giannis Antetokounmpo subtly shaded LeBron James and the Lakers without mentioning them. It was certainly a fascinating turn of events.
The Jazz have the best record in the NBA
The Jazz improved to 21-5 after defeating the Bucks on Friday. They are 9-1 over their last 10 games and look like legitimate title contenders.
Utah All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell is putting up MVP numbers this season. He’s averaging 24.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 5.2 assists while shooting 43.1% from the field, 40.6% from beyond the arc, and 84.9% from the free-throw line. Mitchell is on a mission to lead the Jazz to the promised land after Utah blew a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the 2020 playoffs.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks have had the top record in the NBA the last two seasons, which has helped The Greek Freak win back-to-back MVPs. However, Milwaukee hasn’t looked good this season. The team is only 16-10 overall and 7-8 on the road. Antetokounmpo is averaging 28.1 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 5.6 assists, but he’s not in the MVP conversation at the moment since the Bucks haven’t been playing elite basketball.
After the Bucks lost to the Jazz for their second straight defeat, Giannis Antetokounmpo praised Utah and took a subtle shot at LeBron James and the Lakers unintentionally.
Giannis Antetokounmpo says the Jazz, and not the Lakers, are the “best team in the West”
LeBron James and the Lakers are the reigning NBA champions and 21-6 on the season. However, Giannis Antetokounmpo believes the Jazz are the “best team in the West.”
“It just looks fun. Like when I watch them play, it looks fun, it looks easy,” Antetokounmpo said about the Jazz, via Eric Woodyard of ESPN. “It looks simple. For sure, they look like us last year, and man, when you’re at that point and you’re playing with that confidence, you’re hard to beat for sure.”
This is a compulsive statement from Antetokounmpo, especially since LeBron and the Lakers are clicking on all cylinders and defeated the Bucks earlier in the season. The two-time MVP likely doesn’t know it, but he definitely ruffled some feathers in LA with his praise of the Jazz.
Most NBA fans want to see LeBron James and the Lakers face Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers in the 2021 Western Conference Finals. The Jazz will try and make Giannis Antetokounmpo’s statement look good by preventing an all-LA matchup in the conference finals.
Will we ever see LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo face each other in the Finals?
If the Lakers win the Western Conference again, the Bucks and Brooklyn Nets are the two teams several basketball fans hope will come out of the Eastern Conference. A seven-game series between LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo or The King and Kevin Durant would be must-see TV.
Even though the Jazz are playing terrific basketball, no one will take them seriously until they prove they can win in the playoffs. So while Antetokounmpo is a big fan of Utah, LeBron and the Lakers are still the team to beat in the West.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.