Giannis Antetokounmpo says the most crucial thing they can do this season is help Damian Lillard be as comfortable as possible

“Doc is trying to help everybody, but he needs to help Dame — he’s one of the best players on the team.”

 Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) talks to a referee

While Giannis Antetokounmpo shoulders much responsibility, the same weight falls upon his fellow superstar and Milwaukee Bucks teammate, Damian Lillard. With only 20+ games left in the regular season, the clock is ticking for Lillard to finally get his rhythm in time for the postseason.

For most of the season, Dame has looked the part of the new kid on the block for the Bucks. While he’s had his moments—especially during the All-Star Weekend—his shot has remained shaky, making only 40 percent from the field and an abysmal 30 percent from long distance in his last eight games.

According to Giannis, much of the team’s focus down the stretch should be ensuring Lillard is at his most comfortable when the stakes get considerably higher.

Dame wins games
The Bucks have played much better since the All-Star break, winning three straight, highlighted by a massive win over the much-improved Minnesota Timberwolves and dominant victories over the undermanned Philadelphia 76ers and the floundering Charlotte Hornets. However, Giannis recently said that coach Doc Rivers’ emphasis should be on making sure that Lillard is at his best as the regular season comes to a close.

“Doc is trying to help everybody, but he needs to help Dame — he’s one of the best players on the team,” Giannis shared.

“There’s no denying he can make plays down the stretch. He wins games. You need to make him feel as comfortable as possible. He’s the operator. He operates our offense, you know? So you have to make him feel like he’s the best player.”

Finding ways on offense
Throughout his 11-year career, Lillard has established himself as one of the league’s most lethal scorers. However, all that came when he was playing for a Portland squad that had him as the first option in every game he played. On the Bucks, he has to share the rock with Giannis and fellow All-Stars Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez.

That said, Rivers has been studying film extensively with the Bucks’ coaching staff to find ways how they can utilize Lillard’s skillset in their offense. While he may not be able to have the same usage rate as he did in Portland, they believe that by incorporating him into different sets and actions, they can maximize his scoring potential while also keeping their other stars involved.

“Offensively, it was a starting point,” Rivers said.

“I had to catch up on film, and I noticed that there are times where Dame’s not involved, and Dame doesn’t have the ball. And Dame’s dynamic with the ball. So after makes, I bet 70% of the time, Dame didn’t have the ball. And, you know, spacing to get Dame in his spots. Running something he ran in Portland that makes him comfortable and not running what we always run and just throwing him in there. We’re just trying to make him more comfortable.”

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