On Thursday night against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Dallas Mavericks had seven players in health and safety protocols, including Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr, Maxi Kleber, and four others. In addition, Dallas was without Kristaps Porzingis(toe).
Dallas had five players who they recently signed to 10-day contracts(Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss, Theo Pinson, George King, Carlik Jones) play Thursday night, and while the Bucks also had some health and safety protocol issues(Giannis Antetokounmpo, Dante DiVincenzo, and Bobby Portis), Milwaukee(21-13) still had Khris Middleton(26 points), Jrue Holiday(24 points), and DeMarcus Cousins(22 points).
Ultimately, the Bucks defeated the Mavs 102-95 at American Airlines Center.
Dallas has now lost three of four. The Mavericks(15-16) had six players in double figures, including all five starters. Jalen Brunson led the way with 19 points.
The Mavericks trailed 95-90 with just over five minutes to go, and they would score only five points the rest of the way. However, Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd was happy with the team’s effort.
“The guys played hard,” Kidd said. “We were in position, a great position tonight against the world champs. We missed some opportunities. Had good looks, got stops, just couldn’t score the ball there [in] the last five minutes.”
The players on the 10-day contracts for the Mavericks have an opportunity to catch on with the team or elsewhere, and according to Kidd, those players have a limited amount of time to impress.
“For the guys, this is their second game, Theo [Pinson] and those guys, [Marquese] Chriss; they did everything they could. And for the new guys, [Brandon] Knight, George [King], they’ve just got to get their feet settled,” Kidd said. “Unfortunately, they’re on the clock; it’s only 10 days. I don’t know what the rules are, but if you bring them back another 10 days, we’ll see who makes that.”
Chriss, who had 13 points and five rebounds off the bench, added: “I think the biggest thing was just sitting at home watching everybody else play and missing it and feeling like I could contribute and be somewhere and be myself. I’m just thankful to be here and taking it one day at a time.”
The Mavericks travel to Utah to battle the Jazz on Christmas Day. They will continue to be a depleted team due to health and safety protocols, which will give the newly signed players more opportunities to make an impression.
Dallas is in a tough spot, but they have to figure it out.
Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo had another big-time performance in the NBA Finals, and this time, it translated to a victory. The two-time MVP had his second straight 40-point game in this series and scored 41 points, including 13/17 from the free-throw line, to go along with a team-high 13 rebounds and six assists as the Bucks routed the Suns 120-100 in Game 3 of the NBA Finals at Fiserv Forum on Sunday night.
Antetokounmpo, who had 42 points and 12 rebounds in Game 2, and Shaquille O’Neal are the only two players in NBA history with 40-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in back-to-back Finals games.
“When he’s rolling sometimes like he was these last two games, you’ve just got to give him the ball, give him his space and allow him to go to work,” Khris Middleton, who had 21 points, seven assists, and six assists on Sunday, said about Antetokounmpo.
Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer added on Antetokounmpo: “He’s just doing whatever it takes to help his team, to help us. He’s in an aggressive mindset. He always plays that way. But I thought he played with the pass well. He made some great reads, found guys, played against the zone. He just did a little bit of everything. Offensive boards, putbacks. We need a lot from him, and that’s what he does.”
Phoenix still leads the series 2-1, and Game 4 is on Wednesday night in Milwaukee.
Game 3 was a must-win situation for Milwaukee. The Bucks were down 0-2 against the Nets in the second-round, but won the series in 7.
Milwaukee did what they needed to do on Sunday night, which Antetokounmpo discussed postgame.
“We know what kind of game this was going to be,” Antetokounmpo said. “We knew that if we lose the game, you are in the hole, 3-0 or whatever the case might be. We knew that we had to come here and play great basketball, so I knew that.”
The Bucks shot ten more free throws(26-16) than Phoenix in Game 3, and Suns C Deandre Ayton, who had 12 of his 18 points in the first quarter and nine rebounds on Sunday night, was saddled with foul trouble. While he did not want to complain about the officiating, Suns head coach Monty Williams pointed out the free-throw disparity.
“I’m not going to get into the complaining publicly about fouls. Just not going to do that,” Williams said. “But you can look — we had 16 free throws tonight. One person had 17.”
Devin Booker struggled with his shot in Game 3 and was 3/14 from the field with 10 points, but the two-time All-Star expects to bounce back in Game 4.
“It wasn’t well, obviously,” Booker said. “But there’s nights like that. The most important part to me is winning the game, and we didn’t do that, so I’m more frustrated about that. But we have a few days off here. We’re going to get back right and going to go over film and be ready Wednesday.”
This effort was expected out of Milwaukee in Game 3. It should be interesting to see Phoenix’s response in Game 4. However, the Bucks, who are 8-1 at home this postseason, are back in this series.
-Jrue Holiday had his best performance of the series on Sunday night. Holiday had 21 points, nine assists, and five assists.
-Chris Paul led the Suns with 19 points and nine assists in Game 3. With the loss on Sunday night, Paul is now 0-12 when Scott Foster officiates his games in the playoffs.
The Phoenix Suns are in the NBA Finals because of their big three of Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton, and those three were huge in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Bucks on Monday night at Phoenix Suns Arena.
Paul had 32 points and nine assists, Booker scored 27 points, and Deandre Ayton added 22 points and 19 rebounds as the Suns defeated the Buck 118-105.
Phoenix had six players in double figures.
The trio combined for 81 points, each scoring 20-plus points. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, tonight marked the fourth time in NBA Finals history that three or more teammates, each making their Finals debut, scored 20-plus points in the same game.
The third quarter was all about Paul, who was 6/7 from the field, including 3/3 from three-point range to score 16 points. After leading by eight points at halftime, the Suns were able to push their lead to as much as 20 points in the third because of Paul.
“When it’s going like that, you just want to space the floor well and let him orchestrate,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said about Paul after the game. “I thought he was making the right plays. They were switching a ton, and we have to offer that space and play faster if he gets off of the ball. But he was making shots, and when he’s in that mode, we just feed off of that. But I don’t have a marker or a segment in the game where I’m like, here he goes. It just happens. Our guys feed off of those moments in the game.”
Phoenix had a lot of success on the pick-and-roll, and according to Booker, the Suns wanted to take advantage of any switches on defense from Milwaukee.
“We have to punish teams for switching 1 through 5 like that,” Booker said. “Like I just heard Chris say, we prepare for any type of defense, and we watch a lot of basketball, and where we have been most successful in that situation is space out. So, every time he(Paul) shoots it, we think it’s going in.”
Paul added: “We just feed off of each other, and it just sort of all game long — this guy, that guy, and we just try to find a way to win.”
Milwaukee did get Giannis Antetokounmpo back for Game 1 of the NBA Finals after he missed the last two games of the Eastern Conference finals due to a hyperextended left knee. Antetokounmpo had 20 points and 17 rebounds on Tuesday night.
“It was tough. You know, obviously, I had to do my best to get back,” Antetokounmpo said. “I had to do my best to get back. Listen to my medical staff. I did the right treatment. Took care of my body and supported my teammates, and now I’m back.”
Antetokounmpo is back, which is good, but Milwaukee is going to have to do a better job on their pick-and-roll defense in Game 2. As stated numerous times in the playoffs, it’s all about adjustments, and the Bucks will have to make adjustments in Game 2 on Thursday night in Phoenix.
-Khris Middleton scored a team-high 29 points tonight to go along with 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Middleton shot 12-of-26 from the field and knocked down 5 of his 12 three-point attempts. His 26 field goal attempts tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the fourth-most field goal attempts by a Bucks player in an NBA Finals game in franchise history.
-Mikal Bridges added 14 points tonight, his 11th game of this postseason with 10-plus points and first since Game 3 against the Clippers on June 24. The Suns are 10-1 this postseason when Bridges scores in double figures.
-Cam Johnson and Cameron Payne both came off the bench tonight to each score 10 points in the win. Both knocked down 2 three-pointers, while Johnson added 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.
-Phoenix took advantage of the free-throw line on Tuesday night. The Suns were 25/26(96.2%) from line. Booker led the way going 10/10.
After 47 years, the Milwaukee Bucks are back in the NBA Finals. Khris Middleton scored 23 of his game-high 32 points in the third quarter, and Jrue Holiday added 27 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists as the Bucks defeated the Hawks 118-107 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at State Farm Arena on Saturday night.
Milwaukee wins the series 4-2, and now, they get ready for the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals.
Despite not having Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed Games 5 and 6 due to a hyperextended left knee, the Bucks found a way. Getting to the NBA Finals was not an easy journey for the Bucks, which their head coach Mike Budenholzer discussed after the game.
“Yeah, what a roller coaster of emotions, especially this series,” Budenholzer said. “But the series before and opening with Miami, and how good they are. So just impressed with the resilience of the group, the character of the group. They just have a focus, and an edge that’s put us in a good place put us in an opportunity to keep playing. And so you’ve got to deal with all those emotions, everything that goes into each round, and this group has been able to do that. It’s impressive, but we’ve got more to do.”
Middleton and Antetokounmpo came into the NBA together with the Bucks, and the two went through the highs and lows in Milwaukee, including some playoff disappointments over the years, to get to this point. Middleton reflected on that journey following the victory.
“Honestly, it’s been a long journey, but it’s been a great journey,” Middleton said. “It’s been worth it. We put ourselves in position to be in the NBA Finals. After winning 15 games in our first year here and seven years not making the playoffs, to the last two years thinking we had a chance and just didn’t do enough, and now we’re here. This is what we’ve work for. Extremely happy that we’re still playing.
According to Holiday, this journey to the Finals is a story he will tell his children.
“Man, it’s been — it’s a story that I get to tell my kids, and it’s a story I get to tell people, and that’s one of the coolest things,” Holiday said. “Playing against the Heat and what we did against them; and then coming back against Brooklyn, one of the most talented teams in the league, or ever, honestly, against one of the best, what, top three of the greatest scorers of our game; and then a great Atlanta team, a young team but that have some crucial players.”
Last season, the Atlanta Hawks missed the playoffs. This season, the Hawks made it to the Eastern Conference finals, which unexpected to many, so no matter what happened in Eastern Conference finals, this season was a success. According to Trae Young, who returned and had 14 points and nine assists on Saturday after missing Games 4 and 5 with a foot injury, Atlanta wants to keep this winning vibe going.
“I definitely feel like this is a start,” Young said. “I mean, this is the beginning. We’ve accomplished so much this year, but just the guys in the locker room, the young guys, we all understand that this is just the beginning. It’s fun. We had the city excited. We want to keep it this way.”
The Bucks move on to the NBA Finals against the Suns, and if they can get Antetokounmpo back, and he is fairly healthy, maybe they beat Phoenix. If they don’t get the two-time MVP back, winning an NBA title will be tough for Milwaukee.
Hall of Famer Sidney Moncrief talks NBA playoffs. Who will advance? Bucks or Hawks? What should the 76ers do with Ben Simmons?
Can it be fixed? Making the Hall of Fame, the impact of Eddie Sutton on his life, and his career developing people.
Coming into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Atlanta Hawks knew they would be without their star guard Trae Young(bruised right foot) against the Bucks. However, Milwaukee lost its star player and could be without him the rest of the way.
Giannis Antetokounmpo left Game 4 with just over seven minutes to go in the third quarter and did not return after he hyperextended his left knee trying to block Clint Capela’s shot. The two-time MVP did come back to the bench but had a noticeable limp and returned to the locker room.
After Antetokounmpo’s injury, the Hawks, who led the Bucks by 10 when Antetokounmpo went out of the game, outscored the Bucks 25-10 the rest of the third quarter. Atlanta would take a 25-point lead into the fourth quarter and ultimately defeat the Bucks 110-88 at State Farm Arena to tie the series at 2.
Game 5 is Thursday night in Milwaukee.
Without Young, Lou Williams, the three-time 6th-man of the year award winner, got his first career postseason start on Tuesday night, and Williams had a game-high 21 points and eight assists.
“When superstar caliber guys go out, you put some other guys in the game, and their eyes are this wide, and they’re like this is a great opportunity for me to show and prove my abilities,” Williams said. “You don’t want to be the guys that let them off the hook because Giannis was off the floor. I think we all felt that energy, and we just ratcheted up our energy and continued to go.”
Jrue Holiday led the Bucks with 19 points, to go along with nine assists and five rebounds. According to Holiday, without Antetokounmpo, everybody else has to step up.
“I think just based off of how he was grabbing his leg, it seemed like it was pretty bad,” Holiday said. “So from there, you are concerned, and you don’t want to see anybody, especially a teammate, get hurt, but you kind of have to shift to somebody has to step up. Multiple people have to step up.”
P.J. Tucker, who had eight points on Tuesday night, added on Antetokounmpo: “It’s not good. Any time you see your best player go down, it’s not great. But it’s an opportunity for somebody else and everybody else to step up. It’s the Eastern Conference finals; there’s no excuses. It doesn’t matter whoever is playing, not playing. They’ve got guys out; everybody’s hurt, everybody’s banged up, everybody has injuries. You have to fight through it and win.”
Credit to Atlanta for the way they played in Game 4. They came out with more passion and energy than the Bucks, which is why they were able to tie this series at 2.
According to reports, Antetokounmpo is expected to get an MRI on Wednesday, so what happens with that MRI could determine how the rest of this series plays out. Depending on how things go with Young’s injury, both teams could be without their best player in Game 5.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, who has been battling right knee soreness throughout the playoffs, had a breakout game for the Hawks. He scored 20 points(6-14 from downtown) on Tuesday night.
Before Game 4, Bogdanovic scored 20 points in the first three games of this series combined.