Giannis Antetokounmpo and coach Mike Budenholzer are confident the Bucks will come back as a better team next season after their Eastern Conference finals heartbreak.
The Bucks, who boasted the best regular-season record in the NBA, led the Toronto Raptors 2-0 before losing the next four games to crash out on Saturday with a 100-94 defeat.
But Antetokounmpo suggested this could be “just the start” for Milwaukee, who won their solitary championship back in 1971.
“When you’re out 2-0, that obviously means nothing,” he told reporters. “You’ve got to learn how to close out games, especially after Game 3.
“We’ve got to get better as a team and we’ve got to get better individually. I think this is just the start of a long journey.
“We’re going to get better and we’re going to come back next year, believing in who we are and believing in what we’ve built this year. Hopefully we can be in the same situation and be the ones moving forward.
“It’s the start of a long journey. We’re going to get better and we’re going to come back next year and believe in what we’ve built this year.” – Giannis Antetokounmpo pic.twitter.com/7Rd5lq84Y9
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) May 26, 2019
“I’ve got to go back home and spend some time with my family. After that, I’m going to get in contact with the coaching staff and see what we can do as a team and how I can get better individually.
“It’s something I take pride in, how I can get better in the offseason.
“Hopefully I can work on the right things, listen to my coaches on the things I can get better on, work my butt off and come back next year as a better basketball player and a better teammate.”
Budenholzer, who oversaw vast improvements in both Antetokounmpo and the team, similarly believes the Bucks can kick on once again.
“This hurts,” he said. “But what they did in this playoffs tonight against a really good Toronto Raptors team — and to get to the Conference Finals — and in the regular season, a special season for us, we feel like we’re just getting started.
“This is the beginning of our journey. I couldn’t be more proud of our team.”
Budenholzer added: “Giannis is going to get better. To think for us, we can be excited about his future at 24.
“It’s the easy narrative that this is part of Giannis’ stepping, but I think the thing that makes Giannis special and unique is that, in our minds, he’s going to get a lot better.
“At 24, some guys are who they are. Some of the great ones were the same at 30. Giannis, we feel, has got a lot of room to grow.”