Atlanta Hawks: Is Onyeka Okongwu the Giannis whisperer?

Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Hawks have struggled to contain the two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo for all three games of the Eastern Conference Finals. When he has got into the paint, he has simply been unstoppable, scoring at will for the restricted area.

The Hawks have tried Clint Capela, John Collins, Solomon Hill, and Danilo Gallinari on Antetokounmpo. Capela has done the best job of the four with Collins taking an honorable mention. Hill annoys the Bucks star, and Gallinari is a little slow to stop him.

In the third game of the series, coach Nate McMillan gave the rookie Onyeka Okongwu some extended minutes on Antetokounmpo. The results were nothing short of extraordinary. Okongwu did erase one of Antetokounmpo’s attempts in the first game, but he has had very little time on the court since when Antekounmpo has been on court at the same time.

The Atlanta Hawks showed some faith in Onyeka Okongwu and he rewarded them.

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In a series of plays against Antetokounmpo, Okongwu came up smelling like roses. He has been getting periodic minutes throughout the playoffs and was again given a little bit of time which he then turned into nine minutes of action.

He did though through his energy and intensity. On successive defensive efforts, he took a bump from Anteteokounmpo and absorbed it. He was then able to hold on to the ball, forcing a jump ball which not many other players have managed to do against Antetokounmpo.

He then managed to break up a lob play that was set up for Antetokounmpo which allowed the Hawks to get into transition. Okongwu also made two buckets in his time on the court which will help him get more court time in this series.

Okongwu is growing with every playoff series, which is a much better thing than if he was named to an All-Rookie team and sitting at home watching playoff basketball. He will be better next season for the Hawks thanks to the key minutes he has received in the playoffs. He certainly learned about giving a two-time MVP a hard time last game.

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