In a world where Giannis Antetokounmpo seems virtually unguardable, one man has been able to keep the Greek Freak in check: Kawhi Leonard.
Watching the Eastern Conference Finals, the All-NBA Second Team honoree has slowed down Giannis better than anyone else this season. In fact, Leonard has shut down the Greek Freak at an incredible rate, far surpassing the defensive efforts of other players who matched up with him for at least 100 matchups.
Giannis Points Per 100 by Defender (min. 100 matchups):— Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) May 24, 2019
1. Kawhi Leonard ... 15.9
2. Blake Griffin ........ 31.2
3. Marvin Williams .. 31.7
4. Pascal Siakam ... 33.2
5. Noah Vonleh ...... 36.3
6. Thad Young ....... 37.1
7. Al Horford .......... 40.6
8. Joel Embiid ....... 51.0
Giannis can easily drop 30+ points against any player given the near impossible task of keeping the MVP candidate in front of them on defense. That is, every player except Kawhi. Leonard has limited Antetokounmpo to nearly half the points than any other player has per 100 possessions. That defense has played a big role in the Raptors reclaiming the series lead throughout the past three games.
The Klaw is known for putting the clamps on opposing offensive players. His quick lateral movement and large hands makes it extremely difficult for any ball-handler to succeed against him, even a player as dominant as Giannis.
BIG thing to watch tonight’s Game 5:— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) May 24, 2019
Can Giannis Antetokounmpo overcome Kawhi Leonard’s defense?
Giannis is shooting just 34.6% this season with Kawhi guarding him. Nick Nurse gave him that assignment starting Game 3, completely changing the series. pic.twitter.com/QI5pBS8M6m
You don't get named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year twice for nothing. Kawhi seems to be the only player in the league who has been able to figure out the Greek Freak, a true testament to his worth in an NBA Playoff setting.
You know what they say. Offense wins game, defense wins championships. Well, the Milwaukee's No.1 ranked offense was able to win a couple games in the series, but the overpowering defense of this Toronto Raptors team seems destined for an NBA Finals berth, especially if they can keep the clamps on.