NBA

Bucks will be 'tough to stop' with Lillard and Giannis, predicts Carter-Williams

By Sports Desk October 29, 2023

The Milwaukee Bucks will be "tough to stop" in the Eastern Conference race this season after pairing star point guard Damian Lillard with two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

That's according to former Buck Michael Carter-Williams, who believes the Boston Celtics may emerge as Milwaukee's closest rivals after picking up Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis.

After 11 years with the Portland Trail Blazers, Lillard joined the Bucks in a huge three-team trade in the offseason.

He made an immediate impact as Milwaukee began their 2023-24 campaign with a 118-117 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.

Lillard finished with a record-breaking 39 points on his Bucks debut, surpassing Terry Cummings' 34 points on his first outing for the team back in 1984, while Antetokounmpo added 23 points and 13 rebounds.

With those two stars linking up, free agent Carter-Williams – who represented Milwaukee between 2015 and 2016 – expects his former team to enjoy an exciting season.

"They're both amazing players. The things that they do on the court are tough to stop," Carter-Williams – who will play in the G League in Mexico City as he awaits an NBA offer – told Stats Perform.

"You put those two together, it's a tough combination, and they're immediately one of the best combos in the league. 

"It's going to be interesting to see what they can do and like I said, they're both huge talents so they're going to be tough to stop."

Carter-Williams was surprised to see Lillard land in Milwaukee, but he says the team had to do everything possible to secure him in the huge trade. 

"I was shocked," he said. "I didn't see that coming, I thought it was going to be Miami or Toronto, or there was one other team in the mix.

"I didn't see him going into Milwaukee, but the trade made sense. Obviously, it's tough to give up Drew [Timme] but when you're getting a guy like Damian, I think anybody besides Giannis is liable to get traded."

After Antetokounmpo was taken by the Bucks as the 15th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft, Carter-Williams had the chance to play alongside him during his formative years. 

Reflecting on his time as a team-mate of Antetokounmpo, Carter-Williams said: "It was great, especially seeing him play early on in his career and watching his development.

"Every day, you could see him slowly getting better and better and just to watch his work ethic… he's an unbelievable person. 

"He's a better person than he is a basketball player and I think that's what makes him unique. 

"Watching him play has been great, as a friend, as a fan, as a team-mate, it's been awesome to see."

Milwaukee's offseason moves have seen them touted to improve on 2022-23, when they topped the East but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Miami Heat.

Boston also went down to Miami in the playoffs after finishing second in the East, and they have subsequently strengthened by adding former Bucks guard Holiday and Porzingis from the Washington Wizards.

Carter-Williams expect last season's top two to battle for supremacy in the Eastern Conference again, saying: "I like the Bucks and the Celtics in the East. 

"The Celtics getting Porzingis and Jrue are two huge pickups for them. I like them coming out of the East, in the West, we'll see how things shake up. 

"I think if Anthony Davis and LeBron [James] can be healthy, I think they [the Los Angeles Lakers] are a tough team, they have built a nice little roster over there.

"Then there's Denver, who you can't count out, they got [Nikola] Jokic and they just won it so I think those two are at the top in the West."

The Celtics moved to 2-0 for the season by beating Miami 119-111 on Friday, with Holiday and Porzingis finishing with 17 points apiece. 

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