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In your face! Giannis reaches new heights for Bucks

From FOX Sports - April 13, 2018

MILWAUKEE (AP)Giannis Antetokounmpos meme-worthy scowl started with a look in the mirror.

The Milwaukee Bucks All-Star was an NBA rookie then, trying to come up with a look he could flash after making a big play. Antetokounmpo thought about the glare his mother would throw his way when he misbehaved as a child. It took about a week to perfect as he struck poses in front of the mirror.

Now it comes easy. Youve just got to put your nose up like this, said Antetokounmpo, wrinkling his face after a recent practice.

It can look so much more intimidating on the court.

As Antetokounmpos skills reach new heights, so does his confidence as he enters his third career postseason. The Bucks open their first-round series against the Celtics on Sunday in Boston.

You dont think. Its just second nature. Youre just playing now, Antetokounmpo said. There are points when youre young, youre scared to make the wrong decision late.

This is no longer the gangly, 6-foot-11 forward who would defer during his rookie season in 2013-14. Hes a go-to player in the fourth quarter, a do-it-all forward who can ignite the crowd with a rim-rattling dunk or momentum-changing block.

Thats why I think the best players late, I think they have that mindset. Theyre not scared to take big shots, theyre not scared to turn the ball overand theyre just in general not scared about basketball, he said. Its something that theyve done their whole lives.

It has been quite the journey from awkward 18-year-old rookie to NBA stardom. Former general manager John Hammond, now with the Orlando Magic, scouted Antetokounmpo in the players native Greece before drafting him in the first round in 2013 with the 15th overall pick.

Some NBA fans questioned the move. Freakish athleticism and a 7-foot-3 wingspan offered the promise of being a tough matchup on both ends of the floor.

Boy, did the gamble pay off .

I think one thing that is really important is to never underestimate or undervalue the things that he does, Bucks coach Joe Prunty said last month after the forward scored 28 points in a win over the New York Knicks.

Sometimes, it takes Antetokounmpos absence to make that point stick.

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