Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez wished their MVP-winning Milwaukee Bucks team-mate Giannis Antetokounmpo the best with Greece at the FIBA World Cup, just not against the United States.

Middleton and Lopez watched as Antetokounmpo dominated in the NBA last season after he averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists while helping the Bucks clinch in the number one seed and an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Bucks pair heaped praise on Antetokounmpo, even if they are set to be his rivals at the upcoming World Cup in China.

"There are just so many possessions, so many dunks, but the vision, the unselfishness that he has, it's just so impressive for a superstar of his talent," Lopez told reporters on Wednesday. "And his work ethic is just what amazes me the most, it’s really second to none."

"Every night he steps on that court, you know he's going to give it his all," Middleton added. "You know he's due for one of those big plays."

Middleton and Lopez will not be Antetokounmpo's team-mates at the World Cup, which gets underway in China on August 31.

Antetokounmpo will lead Greece, who have been drawn in Group F alongside New Zealand, Brazil and Montenegro.

Reigning champions Team USA, meanwhile, will face Turkey, Czech Republic and Japan in Group E.

"We've spent hours in practice against each other and it will definitely be fun to get it in a real game," Middleton said. "That's my team-mate, my brother and wish him the best but hopefully not too good against us."

There is no guarantee Middleton will get a chance to match up with Antetokounmpo, but it is not out of the realm of possibility, either.

If both teams finish in the top two of their pools, they could get a chance to face off down the line.

It is something Lopez said USA are not planning for yet but admitted it would be a difficult task on defense, just like it was for every NBA team this past season.

"It would be a total team job," Lopez said. "All five guys have to be on the same page all doing our job."

Khris Middleton hailed "beast" Brook Lopez after he inspired the Milwaukee Bucks' fightback against the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Lopez scored 13 of his 29 points in the final quarter as the Bucks rallied to draw first blood at Fiserv Forum on Wednesday.

The Raptors led by seven points at the end of the third quarter and Middleton saluted Lopez for stepping up under pressure after the center played a huge part in a 108-100 victory.

"He was huge, he was a beast." said forward Middleton.

"Inside the paint, he made some big plays for us. And in the defense he covers up so many of our mistakes. He was huge, without him we definitely would not have got the win."

Eric Bledsoe expects the Raptors to produce a positive response to going behind in the series when the two sides do battle in Game 2 on Saturday.

"We definitely know they are going to come back with a strong game plan, we've just got to adapt and take it a game at a time," said Bledsoe.

Giannis Antetokounmpo believes the manner of the Bucks' victory will stand them in good stead for the remaider of the series.

The forward said: "I think we need games like this, because not every game is going to be a blowout," Antetokounmpo said. "Not every game is going to be easy. And I think this game definitely made us better."

The Milwaukee Bucks moved one game closer to playing for a championship by overcoming the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.

Milwaukee pulled out a 108-100 win over Toronto in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals at the Fiserv Forum.

The Bucks trailed by seven entering the fourth quarter but opened the period on a 20-8 run and held on for the win from there.

Brook Lopez scored a team-high 29 points for Milwaukee while Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds.

Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry combined for 61 points for the Raptors in the losing effort.

Here are three takeaways from the Bucks' Game 1 win:

 

This series should be a fun one

On paper, this series looked like it would be one of the most intriguing of the entire playoffs. After one matchup, that observation still stands.

Game 1 was by no means an offensive showcase, but both teams were evenly matched. Toronto and Milwaukee each relied on their stars while role players stepped up for both teams.

The matchup was tied with four minutes, two seconds left and the outcome was in doubt in the final minutes.

Every game of the Eastern Conference finals has the potential to turn into a must watch.

 

Malcolm Brogdon makes an impact

It did not take Malcolm Brogdon long to make an impact.

The 26-year-old guard suffered a foot injury last month and did not return until the final game of the Bucks' conference semi-final series against the Boston Celtics. Milwaukee were thankful to have him on the floor on Wednesday.

Brogdon finished with 15 points on five-of-nine shooting while adding three rebounds and three assists in 27 minutes. He also finished a big fast break dunk midway through the fourth quarter that energised his team.

Brogdon will give the Bucks a big boost off the bench if he can continue to contribute in a big way.

 

Bucks overcome three-point struggles

It was not all good news for Milwaukee.

Despite the win, the Bucks were dreadful from long range. They finished 11 of 44 from behind the arc, a mark of 25 per cent.

Khris Middleton and Nikola Mirotic combined to hit just two of their 12 total three-point shots, Eric Bledsoe failed to connect on all six of his while Ersan Ilyasova missed three of his four triple attempts.

Milwaukee may not be able to afford to shoot like that again in this series.

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