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Lopez sticks to the Bucks plan, and it s more fun for everyone

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com MILWAUKEE — Come for the three-point melodrama, stay for the rim protection, the put-backs, the block-outs and the blocked shots. Come for the anguish and frustration that plays out across Brook Lopez’s face over the course of a typical NBA game, stay for the maniacal, jubilant, fourth-quarter clapping that gets turned into a GIF and goes viral within minutes. Brook Lopez clapping violently dot gif pic.twitter.com/a22arVkUSc — CJ Fogler (@cjzero) May 16, 2019 Come for the unbuttoned Fresno Grizzlies minor league baseball jersey, stay for the Disney fashion T-shirt showing beneath it and the Pizza Planet cap up top. “I’ve always tried to have fun when I go out and play basketball,” said Lopez. The Milwaukee Bucks’ center embodied his team’s performance as they clawed back Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, beating the Toronto Raptors, 108-100, Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) at Fiserv Forum. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] “I obviously love playing the game,” said Lopez, dressed like a 7-foot 10-year-old for his podium appearance. “But no question I’ve been having a great time here.” Lopez, 31, scored 29 points, a personal playoff best, and grabbed 11 rebounds. It was his first 20-point night of the Bucks’ 10 playoff games so far, only the fourth of his career (he has appeared in just 23 postseason games in 11 seasons). And it came on the heels of a Game 5 effort against Boston a week ago in which Lopez was held scoreless. Milwaukee clinched anyway. This one was an ordeal for Lopez and for the Bucks, an opener in the best-of-seven series in which they slogged through three quarters without much touch or rhythm. The style of play they’ve embraced over 82 games and the past month of postseason was betraying them; Milwaukee kept hoisting and missing three-pointers, as single-mindedly in spite of horrid results as if they all wore beards and played for Houston. The resulting nastiness: A 6-for-34 (17.6 percent) showing from the arc, while digging an 83-76 hole that maxed out at 13 points. Lopez was a notable offender. He missed his first three from deep and only broke through midway through the second quarter. His shot from out front that got the Bucks within 42-37 was followed by a reaction of one part frustration, one part exasperation and a couple parts relief. That’s the wide open space of Lopez’s game, out there on the wing or in the corner launching for all the world to see. Home fans seem to live and die on each attempt, riding an emotional rollercoaster while – on nights such as this one – they wait for his results to regress to the mean. That finally happened in the fourth quarter. Lopez – who shot a total of 31 three-pointers in his first eight seasons, 300-plus in each of the next two and ultimately 512 in 2018-19 with the Bucks – hit two to get his team going in the quarter. His third in the period, one possession after Lopez finished a slo-mo fast-break for a 101-100 lead, sent Toronto into a timeout, down four with 1:55 left. That was when Lopez came with the clapping. And when play resumed, there was Lopez again, getting a hand on Kawhi Leonard’s attempt to attack the rim, stripping and corralling the ball for a block and rebound. As good as Kyle Lowry was over the final 12 minutes, as potent as the Raptors’ offense was at certain points earlier, they were done scoring for the night. Lopez did the small stuff all night, even finishing off the dribble a couple times. It’s just that, by virtue of how he and the Bucks have played this season, those things get overshadowed by the broad strokes that didn’t go his way until late. “This is the Brook we all know and we all love,” said Giannis Antetokounmpo. Said Khris Middleton: “He’s a beast. Inside the paint, made some big plays for us. On the defensive end, he covers up so much for our mistakes.” The Bucks’ adherence to what works has been tested for quarters, for halves, but so far only for one whole game in these playoffs – they dropped the opener against Boston. Milwaukee won the next four in a row to oust the Celtics. In the dressing room afterward, there was chatter that they’d snatched one away, that they couldn't have played worse – at least on offense. In that fourth quarter, outscoring Toronto 32-17, Milwaukee made up for a multitude of sins. The Bucks hit 50 percent of their shots, missed only 1-of-10 free throws and dominated the boards (14-4) to finish with a 60-45 edge. The Raptors were held to 5-of-22 shooting in the quarter. And Lopez, dragging a minus-5 plus/minus rating through three quarters, was sitting on a plus-7 by the horn. The key? Absolutely faith in the style they’ve honed since late September, and a commitment to letting it fly. Whether we’re talking about a conscienceless approach to three-pointers or Lopez’s irrepressible good nature. He has made as many as eight three-pointers in a game this season (at Denver, Nov. 12, PHL time) and attempted as many as 15 (vs. Brooklyn, Dec. 30, PHL time). There is no such thing as too many. “That’s what my teammates have been telling me,” Lopez said. “George Hill specifically and then [Giannis], too. They just stick in my mind: ‘Keep shooting the ball, you just need one to go down. Keep letting it fly.” Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMay 16th, 2019

Antetokounmpo learning how to deal with playoff disappointment

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com TORONTO – Whenever LeBron James struggled through the sort of playoff performance Giannis Antetokounmpo had Sunday (Monday, PHL time), he seemed to want to put it behind him as swiftly as he could. His routine – assuming it wasn’t The Finals, where he got summoned to the podium, win or lose – typically went like this: the door to the Cleveland or Miami dressing room would swing open and there James would be, ready to face the questions, antsy to move on ASAP. Once he ‘fessed up to the shots he’d missed or the plays he’d botched, that was it. Oh, you knew he’d be looking plenty at video of that game in the hours before he played again, as a way to find and fix the flaws. But for public consumption at least, he shed it fast, like an ill-fitting suit. Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks’ young star, is still learning this face-of-the-franchise and cutthroat competitor stuff. He took his time afterward in the spartan visitors’ room at Scotiabank Arena. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] There he sat, with his knees wrapped and his feet plunged into an ice bath. The Kia MVP candidate stared at the score sheet that had been handed to him, the one bearing all sorts of dreary news from the double-overtime setback that cut Milwaukee’s lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1. Antetokounmpo barely looked up as the semicircle of cameras, microphones and reporters around him grew with media people tip-toeing that fine line between giving him some space and blocking out for position whenever he’d finally take their questions. (“Talk,” as we say in the trade). Heck, Antetokounmpo barely looked up when Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer strode through the dressing room and tapped him on his left knee, a little atta-boy bonding near the end of a long, disappointing night. While teammates poked habitually at their phones in the aftermath of Milwaukee’s 118-112 loss, Antetokounmpo mostly let his lie there on the seat next to him. By the standards he set this year as an MVP favorite, he knew he’d had a lousy night. The reporters standing there, like fans everywhere, knew he’d struggled, of course, in ways rarely seen since his first taste of the postseason four years ago. And he knew that they knew, so… “Obviously it wasn’t my best game,” Antetokounmpo said eventually. “I’ve got to be more aggressive… I’ve got to make the right play.” Defensively, Antetokounmpo was pretty much his usual self, grabbing 23 rebounds for the Bucks, challenging Toronto’s players out on the floor and close to the rim, and blocking four shots. Offensively, though, Antetokounmpo was a mess. He scored only 12 points, his fewest in a playoff game since he was first dipping his toe into postseason waters as a 20-year-old back in 2015. Through three quarters, Antetokounmpo had only six points on 3-for-8 shooting. Seven Milwaukee players and five Raptors had outscored him to that point, and he hadn’t earned his way to the foul line even once. What made it all worse was that the game was sitting there, aching to be taken by someone, anyone. Antetokounmpo got himself going a bit in the fourth quarter, making a couple of shots and earning five free throws. But he missed three. Then he went scoreless while playing the entire first overtime. And then he fouled out just 36 seconds into the second OT. He didn’t object, either, when that sixth foul for stepping in front of Toronto’s Pascal Siakam sent him to the side. Antetokounmpo just took it and exited, sealing it as one of those “not your night, kid” hard lessons. Asked about the frustration that Antetokounmpo might have shown to teammates, if not the public, Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe said: “If you don’t feel bad when you play bad, you don’t need to be playing this game. That’s the feeling that drives you to success. I’m happy he’s feeling like that.” Antetokounmpo’s game didn’t just spin sideways on its own. Raptors coach Nick Nurse switched some defensive duties around and assigned Kawhi Leonard – a two-time Defensive Player of the Year with the wingspan, instincts and reflexes to confound any open-court player – as the tip of Toronto’s spear against the Greek Freak. Then, as expected, Toronto sent second defenders at him, the surest way to get the ball out of Antetokounmpo’s hands or force him into difficult shots. So he tried to make the right basketball plays, as they say, and sometimes he did – he dished a team-high seven assists. Sometimes, though, he did not, turning over the ball eight times. For the record, Antetokounmpo has played 31 postseason games in his young career. In the games in which he has scored fewer than 19 points, his team’s record is 3-6. When he scores 19 or more, the Bucks are 14-8. Not to lay it all at Antetokounmpo’s feet. Fellow All-Star Khris Middleton was way off his usual offensive form, missing 13 of his 16 shots. And Bledsoe matched that. Together, those three starters were a combined 11-of-48. The rest of the team shot 50 percent (27 of 54). “We have the utmost respect and belief that the next game is not going to be as bad as [this] was,” said guard George Hill, who scored 24 points off the bench. “But I know it's sitting in their head that they go for a combined 11-of-48 or something like that. We're not worried about it.” Right. Who’s even counting? Budenholzer and his staff are going to have to figure out ways to get scoring opportunities without being stymied by all the defensive traffic. Teammates are going to have to shoot better, to keep those diggers honest in their matchups. And Antetokounmpo is going to need to play more aggressively and take what happened in Game 3 very personally. He wasn’t quite there yet, Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). “Obviously I want to stay aggressive. But we stick to our game plan,” Antetokounmpo said. “Some days I’m going to have a bad night. But my team has to focus on doing their job and I’ll do mine.” Said Brook Lopez, after watching the throng swallow Antetokounmpo on the opposite side of the room: “We know he’s not going to quit or stop playing. He’s going to continue to be him.” As he talked, Lopez’s phone began vibrating next to him. He said it was Bucks GM Jon Horst calling and, in a bit of gallows humor after a stinging loss, joked that maybe he shouldn’t answer. “I don’t know if I should pick up or not,” the Milwaukee center said, “’cause I want to be here tomorrow.” Antetokounmpo has a call to answer now, too. In Game 4, Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2019

First Holdings OKs P5-B buyback plan

The Lopez Group has expanded its massive share buyback program amid a string of similar buyback activities in the market by other listed firms owing to the prevailing volatility in the market......»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated NewsJul 5th, 2019

Summer of 2020 takes on added importance for Bucks

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com As important as the 2019-20 season and postseason are to the Milwaukee Bucks, in proving to themselves and to the basketball world they can take that next step (Finals) or two (championship), they pale next to the significance of the summer of 2020. That’s when Giannis Antetokounmpo, the NBA’s newly minted Kia Most Valuable Player, can sign a “supermax” contract extension worth approximately $254 million over five years. Or not. And the “or not” might have gotten a nudge on the first day of 2019 free agency Sunday (Monday, PHL time). The Bucks were in a tough situation as it was, with three free agents among the top five players from last season’s 60-22 team. Keeping all of them – wing Khris Middleton, center Brook Lopez and guard Malcolm Brogdon – was going to be a challenge, financially and realistically, given how much demand was outstripping supply in the marketplace (nearly $500 million in available cap space plus exceptions burning holes in 30 teams’ pockets). Milwaukee started scrambling in the days heading toward June 30 (July 1, PHL time) by moving or trying to move pieces such as Tony Snell, George Hill and Ersan Ilyasova for payroll and roster flexibility. Snell’s contract was traded to Detroit along with the No. 30 pick in the 2019 Draft, Hill was waived and Ilyasova essentially was sitting at the curb with a “Free” sign on him and his $7 million salary. It wasn’t enough. The free agent-palooza started well enough for the Bucks when reports leaked early that Lopez would be retained on a four-year, $52 million deal. Frankly, that’s a bargain -- $55 million over five years – if you add Lopez’s 2019-20 salary of $3.4 million, a ridiculously low rate for what wound up as a career-redefining season for the veteran big man. After taking a mere 0.5 percent of his 6,826 field goal attempts from 3-point range through his first eight seasons, Lopez let fly 65 percent of his shots from beyond the arc in his 11th. In hard numbers, that’s 31 attempts over eight years compared to 512 in 81 appearances for the Bucks. Factor in Lopez’s underrated defense and rim protection, and his free-spirit calm in the locker room, and he ranked arguably as the Bucks’ next most valuable player after Antetokounmpo. Soon thereafter, Milwaukee’s next move was reported: Middleton re-upping on an enormous five-year, $178 deal. The soft-spoken 6-foot-7 was named an East All-Star reserve en route to averaging 18.3 points and shifting even more of his offensive game to 3-point territory. But Middleton’s greatest leverage was being viewed as the Bucks’ No. 2 player overall and Antetokounmpo’s Scottie Pippen (relatively) for the past six seasons. And hey, his contract represents a $12 million discount from the $190 million “max” Middleton could have demanded. As it is, starting at an estimated $30.6 million salary, he’ll be getting about $5 million more than Antetokounmpo both this season and next. So two done and one … not done. Not done at all. Just when it appeared the Bucks would take care of their most pressing free-agency issues, the news came: Brogdon to Indiana on an $85 million deal over four seasons. In a sign-and-trade, which meant Milwaukee facilitated the restricted free agent’s departure, rather than match the Pacers’ offer and keep him. Brogdon’s value last season, to a team that got within two victories of The Finals, was evident analytically and by most eye tests. He became only the eighth shooter in NBA history to hit 50 percent of his shots overall, 40 percent of 3s and 90 percent of his free throws. He also showed an uncanny ability to take over for minutes at a time when the Bucks were desperate to generate offense. Brogdon’s threat as shooter enabled him to attack the rim at a high percentage, stopping opponents’ runs or sparking them for his side. Brogdon’s relationship with the Bucks seemed to get strained two years ago, when his reward for being named an unlikely Kia NBA Rookie of the Year was 20 bench appearances in the team’s first 37 games. Here Brogdon had won the award over the likes of Dario Saric, Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray and Jaylen Brown (Joel Embiid only made 31 appearances in 2016-17), yet his role was unclear once Phoenix made Eric Bledsoe available and Milwaukee pounced. Bledsoe pre-empting his own free agency by signing a four-year, $70 million deal with the Bucks raised questions about Brogdon’s spot in their pecking order again. So too, it appears, did Milwaukee nailing down the East’s No. 1 seed, then going 7-1 in the first two playoff rounds while Brogdon nursed a plantar fascia foot injury from mid-March into May. All of a sudden Brogdon’s deal was looking like the one to blame for pushing Milwaukee’s payroll up, up, up into luxury-tax range. And so he was sacrificed to Indiana, an Eastern Conference rival, for a reported first-round draft pick and a couple second-rounders, protections and years still not known. Bucks GM Jon Horst made a nice save in pulling back Hill from the free-agent pool, to the tune of a three-year, $29 million deal. But losing Brogdon was a considerable step backward for a team determined to go forward. Shedding Snell and having Nikola Mirotic head off to the Euroleague to play in Barcelona doesn’t help. As for the draft picks from Indiana and the $12 million trade exception the Bucks might have gained in the trade, the former are out of sync with the team’s life cycle – namely, Antetokounmpo’s ambitions and contract status – and the latter only matters if it’s used smartly. Everything Milwaukee does – has done, actually, since those four staggered defeats against Toronto in the conference finals – has to be about giving Antetokounmpo reasons to stay. That means improving, that means winning, that means at least being in the building when the championship is decided next June. The clock is ticking. The social media vultures will be circling for "The Greek Freak" soon. There is only one way to fend them off, and a part of that now will be playing for the Pacers. Horst, 2019 NBA Executive of the Year, and Mike Budenholzer, NBA Coach of the Year, might need to repeat if they and their team are going to chase the trophies – the Larry and the Giannis – that matter most. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2019

Manny Pacquiao- Keith Thurman title bout to be aired on SKY Sports PPV

Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao guns for another win in a major boxing bout as he challenges Keith Thurman for the WBA (Super) Welterweight World Championship this July 21 (Sunday) live via SKY Sports Pay-Per-View. The reigning WBA (regular) Welterweight World Champion faces an opponent ten years his junior after successfully defeating Adrien Broner last January and Lucas Matthysse in the latter part of 2018. Pacquiao currently holds a boxing record of 61-7-2 with 39 wins coming via knockout. On the other hand, Keith Thurman also known by the moniker, “One Time,” is coming from a majority decision win over Josesito Lopez. He owns an unblemished record of 30-0-0 with 22 wins via knockouts and one No Contest. Local boxing analyst Ed Tolentino said in an interview by news.abs-cbn.com that the bout between Thurman and Pacquiao will be a good one, stating that Thurman is better than Broner. One thing he is concerned about Thurman, though, is his health since this fight is only the American fighter’s second after being inactive for almost two years. Don’t miss the eight division world champion as he returns to the MGM Grand this July 21. Subscribe now until June 30 to avail an early bird promo for only PHP 649 instead of Php 949.This promo is available to all digital SKYcable, SKY Fiber, and SKYdirect subscribers nationwide. Subscribers to the fight on SKY Sports Pay-Per-View will have access to its live and commercial-free airing in high definition, including its replays on the same day right after the live event, as well as its livestream with a 7-day catch-up via SKY on Demand. Call 418 0000 or your SKY local office or visit www.mysky.com/pacman to subscribe. SKYcable, SKY Fiber + HD Cable TV Plan and SKYdirectsubscribers can also activate their subscription by texting PPV to 23662. For SKYdirect prepaid subscribers, they can text PPV PACMAN  to 23667 (available to Globe Prepaid, or TM ). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 24th, 2019

The ten most intriguing NBA free agents for 2019

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com We knew that the postseason would affect free agency. But the idea was that the success or failure of certain teams would affect what their free agents' thoughts about staying or leaving. Unfortunately, the last two games of The Finals brought devastating injuries to two of the three most coveted free agents on the market. Kevin Durant, arguably the best player in the world, tore his Achilles in Game 5, just 12 minutes into his return from a calf injury. And Klay Thompson tore his ACL in Game 6. The two injuries will certainly have repercussions beyond the two players and the Golden State Warriors. Maybe they already have. With the Western Conference seemingly wide open next season, the Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly made a deal for Anthony Davis, sending a bevy of young players and future picks to New Orleans so they can team the 26-year-old star with 34-year-old LeBron James ... and maybe another star added in free agency. As always, the free agent market and the trade market are tied together. The pending Davis trade could affect the decisions of players and teams come July 1. And if teams miss out on the free agents they're seeking, they could always fill their cap space by making a trade. With all that in mind, the players listed below aren't necessarily the 10 best free agents (or potential free agents). They're the 10 (actually 12) most interesting in regard to where they're going and what kind of contract they get. For players to be on this list, there needs to be some intrigue regarding their (and/or their team's) decision this summer. That's why Thompson isn't included. 1. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto (Player option) Whether he leaves or not, trading for Leonard last summer was well worth it for the Raptors, who won their first championship, with Leonard averaging 30.5 points per game in the postseason. The Raptors' "load management" program (which limited Leonard to just 60 games in the regular season) clearly worked, and director of sports science Alex McKechnie should be seen as a major asset in the quest to keep Leonard in Toronto. There should be a "run-it-back" sentiment for the new champs, with Danny Green also a free agent and Marc Gasol holding a player option this summer. A short-term deal would make sense, unless Leonard is looking for long-term security, having missed almost all of the 2017-18 season with a leg injury. It's all up to Leonard, maybe the toughest player in the league to read. If he takes his two-way talent elsewhere, the Raptors may have to go in a new direction. Number to know: In the postseason, Leonard had a true shooting percentage of 69.1 percent, the highest mark for a player that averaged at least 30 points per game in the playoffs and won the championship. 2. Kevin Durant, Golden State (Player option) Durant's torn Achilles probably won't scare any team, including the Warriors, from paying him as much as possible. As deep and talented as this free agent class is, the top two guys on this list are in a class by themselves. Rumors have long had Durant ready to leave Golden State and even with his injury, he seems more likely than Thompson to find a new home. But an ESPN report had Thompson's father talking about "unfinished business" after overhearing a conversation between the two injured Warriors. Durant could always put free agency off for a year by exercising his player option and remaining on the Warriors' payroll through his rehab. Number to know: Durant was the first player in NBA history to average 30 points per game in at least 10 playoff games while shooting at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line. 3. Kyrie Irving, Boston The disappointment of the Celtics' season, along with Irving's questionable leadership with a group that underachieved, has taken some of the shine off his star. Irving's injury history also must be taken into consideration. But talent is the most important thing in this league and Irving is one of its most talented players. He's still just 27-years-old and he can still get buckets when buckets are needed. A return to Boston appears far less likely than it did six months ago (especially with Davis being traded elsewhere) and there have been a lot of signals that Irving is bound for Brooklyn. Number to know: In the regular season, Irving had an effective field goal percentage of 56.1 percent with the score within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, the second-best mark among player with at least 50 clutch field goal attempts. 4. Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, Philadelphia The Sixers lost to the eventual NBA champions on a Game 7 buzzer-beater that bounced on the rim four times before falling through. They're right there. But their starting lineup, which outscored its opponents by more than 21 points per 100 possessions in 334 total minutes (regular season and playoffs), includes three free agents. In regard to future assets, the Sixers didn't give up as much for Butler as they did for Harris. And of course, Butler has more baggage in regard to accepting his role. But, with his defense and his ability to get his own shot, he's is the most important of the three. Harris struggled a bit in the conference semifinals against Toronto and is the least important of the Sixers' three free-agent starters; J.J. Redick's shooting was clearly more critical in the postseason. But Harris isn't easily replaceable and he appears to be the most likely to leave, with a lot of teams looking for versatile forwards. Number to know: In the regular season, Harris shot 41.3 percent on pull-up three-pointers, the second-best mark among 69 players who attempted at least 100. 5. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Walker has expressed some level of loyalty to the Hornets. But immediately after the Davis trade was agreed to, there was a report that Walker would be a "top target" of the Lakers with their cap space. Walker would be an ideal offensive complement to James and Davis, in that he can play off the ball (though he shot less than 35 percent on catch-and-shoot three-pointers last season) and take some of the playmaking burden off of James' shoulders. The Hornets, meanwhile, would likely have a tough time upgrading their roster around Walker, with Nicolas Batum, Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller all under contract next season for a total of $85 million. Number to know: Walker led the league with 126 field goal attempts with the score within five points in the last five minutes. That was 43 percent of the Hornets' total (295). His effective field goal percentage on those shots (49.6 percent) ranked 15th among 45 players with at least 50 clutch field goal attempts. 6. D'Angelo Russell, Brooklyn (Restricted) A finalist for the Most Improved award, Russell took a big step forward this season, both in regard to his production and his maturity. He earned himself an All-Star appearance and helped the Nets reach the playoffs with a 14-win increase from last season. He's only 23-years-old and is one of the league's most flammable shooters. But because he doesn't get to the basket or the free throw line very often, Russell is neither all that efficient (his true shooting percentage of 53.3 percent ranked 66th among 94 guards with at least 500 field goal attempts) nor consistent, and he struggled (shooting 36 percent) in Brooklyn's first-round loss to Philadelphia. If the Nets are targeting another ball-handler in free agency (with Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie already under contract), they'll probably let Russell head elsewhere. Number to know: In the regular season, Russell ranked second with 11.4 pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions per game. He scored 0.89 points per possession as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, the 26th best mark among 44 players that averaged at least five ball-handler possessions. 7. DeMarcus Cousins and Kevon Looney, Golden State Cousins hadn't made it back to 100 percent from his Achilles tear before he suffered a torn quad in his second career playoff game. He made it back for The Finals from that injury and showed flashes of his old self with 14 important points in the Warriors' Game 5 win and a big bucket in the final minute of Game 6. But he also struggled on both ends of the floor at times, and the Warriors were outscored with him on the floor in seven of his eight playoff games. Now he goes back on the free agent market with teams still not sure of what they're getting. Looney is an unrestricted free agent at 23-years-old, and he was the Warriors' most important center this season. The Western Conference champs have Looney's Bird rights, but they could also be spending a lot of money to retain Durant and Thompson (and possibly extend Draymond Green). Another team might have a larger role and more money for an improving young big. Number to know: In the regular season, the Warriors' lineup of Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green and Looney scored 121.5 points per 100 possessions and outscored opponents by 18.7 per 100. Those were the best marks for points scored and point differential per 100 possessions among 40 league-wide lineups that played at least 200 minutes together. 8. Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee (Restricted) The Milwaukee Bucks were the best team in the league through the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals. But, with four of their top eight players being free agents (or potential free agents) this summer, they have a lot of work to do if they want to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo surrounded by players who can get it done on both ends of the floor. Brogdon, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez are the three key pieces. They're all due a pay raise and they all belong on this list. Brogdon is the restricted free agent, but he's also the youngest of the three (he'll be 27 in December) and the one that could be projected into a larger role on another team. Number to know: Brogdon shot 47.5 percent on catch-and-shoot three-pointers, the third-best mark among 223 players who attempted at least 100. 9. Julius Randle, New Orleans (Player option) After five years in the league, Randle is still just 24-years-old. So he's not necessarily a bad fit for David Griffin's plans for the future in New Orleans. But the Pelicans might not be ready to commit the money Randle is seeking (should he opt out of the final year of his contract) after averaging a career-high 21.4 points per game. Defense remains an issue, but Randle has expanded his offensive skill set; he was a respectable 34.4 percent from three-point range this season, taking 18 percent of his shots from beyond the arc (up from six percent over his three previous full seasons). Number to know: Randle averaged 13.2 points in the paint per game, seventh most in the league, and he made more three-pointers (67) than all but one of the six players in front of him. 10. Ricky Rubio, Utah According to Rubio himself, he's not Utah's top priority in free agency. He remains a good defender and one of the league's best passers, but the Jazz need to get more potent offensively if they're going to take the next step. At 31.1 percent, Rubio ranked 153rd in three-point percentage among 163 players with at least 200 attempts. There could be as many as 10 teams (not including the Jazz) in need of a starting point guard this summer, and Rubio could have more value on a team more in need of a distributor. Number to know: The Jazz were 5.8 points per 100 possessions better offensively with both Rubio and Donovan Mitchell on the floor (scoring 110.4 per 100) than they were with Mitchell on the floor without Rubio (104.6). John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2019

Kawhi Leonard s improved playmaking has Raptors on cusp of Finals

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com MILWAUKEE -- At some point in the regular season, Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse had a feeling that his team's best player would be even better in the playoffs. "He seemed to cruise to 30 points a lot of nights," Nurse said of Kawhi Leonard. "Thirty is a lot in this league, and that's why I kept saying, 'Geez, it just feels like there's another gear here with this guy that we're going to see.'" [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Leonard acknowledged as much in early March. "There's 82 games and for me, these are just practices," he said, "and playoffs is when it's time to lace them up." Nurse's reaction when he heard that? "Now we're talking." Indeed, Leonard has taken things to another level in this postseason, playing big minutes, making huge shots, and defending at an elite level. But Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals brought something new. Leonard scored 35 points in the biggest win in Toronto Raptors franchise history, a 105-99 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks that gave the two-seed a 3-2 series lead with Game 6 in Toronto on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). Fifteen of those 35 points, including two huge step-back three-pointers over the seven-foot-tall Brook Lopez, came in the fourth quarter. That wasn't the new part. This was Leonard's seventh game of 35 or more points in this postseason. And you might recall a couple of big fourth-quarter shots over a seven-footer in the last series. Leonard also played smothering defense on Giannis Antetokounmpo. That wasn't new either. Since Game 3, Leonard, with plenty of help from his teammates, has made the presumed MVP look somewhat mortal. The new part was the number "9" in the assists column. In 570 career games (regular season and playoffs combined) prior to Thursday, Leonard had never recorded as many as nine assists. That he did it in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on the road and against the league's No. 1 defense says a lot about Leonard as a big-game star. That, given his star status, he had never had nine assists before just as much about his history as a playmaker. Leonard may be the most complete player in the game right now, but his passing can still get better. It doesn't come naturally to him. In regard to making his teammates better, Leonard is certainly not LeBron James. And you can even say that Antetokounmpo, still emerging as a superstar himself, has been better at reading the defense and finding open shooters. In the regular season, Leonard recorded assists on just 12.2 percent of his possessions, the fifth lowest rate among 35 players with a usage rate of 25 percent or higher. And his assist rate has actually been lower (11.7 percent) in the playoffs. But over the last two series, Leonard has been the focus of the Philadelphia and Milwaukee defenses. At times, he has tried to score through multiple defenders. And often, because his teammates weren't willing or able to do much offensively themselves and because he was scoring so efficiently, he was probably right to force things. Leonard forced little on Thursday (Friday, PHL time). He drove into the teeth of the Bucks' defense, saw where the help was coming from, and made the right play. "We keep stressing that in this series and in the last series, too," Nurse said. "When you've drawn two, you've done your job. You've got to find the guy who's open." And on the 22 possessions in which he drove, the Raptors scored 29 points, 10 from Leonard himself and 19 from his teammates. "Pretty much try to stay with a consistent mindset throughout the whole game," Leonard said of his performance. "Just trying to read the defense throughout the entire game, see what's working." It was all working, whether it was Leonard calling his own number or making plays for others. And it certainly helps that the others have seemingly found their mojo. Fred VanVleet, who shot 6-for-42 over a nine-game stretch from Game 2 of the conference semis through Game 3 of this series, is a 63 percent shooter (10-for-12 from three-point range) when he has more than one child. All of Leonard's nine assists in Game 5 were on three-pointers - so he accounted for 62 (59 percent) of the Raptors' 105 points via his own points and assists - and four of them were to the dad who hasn't slept much since Fred Jr. was born on Monday. "Any time he chooses to get the rest of us involved," VanVleet said of Leonard, "it's going to bode well for our offense. The rest of us just got to be ready to step up and knock them down." VanVleet had both the biggest shot of the night - a three from the right wing off a Leonard kick-out that broke a 93-93 tie with 2:19 to go - and the quote of the night when asked about his formula for success: "Zero sleep, have a lot of babies, and go out there and let loose." The Raptors' offense has been the biggest key to this series, because Toronto's defense, when it has been set, has been tremendous. They've kept Antetokounmpo from getting all the way to the basket, and they've been able to recover out to and contest the Bucks' shooters. While the Raptors scored 1.32 points per possession when Leonard drove in Game 5, the Bucks scored at a rate less than half of that (0.57, 12 points on 21 possessions) when Antetokounmpo drove. "We've got to play good offense," Nurse said, "not turn it over and score the basketball, because if you don't, they're getting what they want, which is downhill basketball in a hurry. If we can score it, if we can take care of it, we can get our defense set up, for the most part we get down and guard them and make the shots a lot tougher." Just six days ago, the Raptors were a possession away from falling into an 0-3 hole, one that no team in NBA history has ever come back from. Now, they've won three straight games against the team that hadn't lost three straight all season. After scoring less than a point per possession over the first two games of this series, the Raptors have scored 110.3 per 100 over the last three. The defense feeds off of the offense. And the offense feeds off of the star that keeps taking things to a new level. "I'm not afraid of the moment," Leonard said. "I enjoy it." The Kawhi Leonard that we saw in Games 1-4 against Philadelphia (when he averaged 38.0 points on 62 percent shooting) was a preposterously efficient scorer, good enough to keep his team even in the second round. The Kawhi Leonard that we saw on Thursday (Friday, PHL time) has his team playing even better ... and just one win from the NBA Finals. John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019

Leonard scores 35, Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 for 3-2 lead

By Andrew Seligman, Associated Press MILWAUKEE (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 35 points and the Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks 105-99 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Leonard showed no obvious signs of the leg soreness that bothered him in Toronto's victories in the previous two games, hitting the 30-point mark for the fourth time in the series. He made five three-pointers and had seven rebounds and nine assists. Fred VanVleet scored 21 points, hitting seven three's. Kyle Lowry added 17 as the Raptors put themselves in position to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time. A victory at home Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) would set up a matchup with two-time defending champion Golden State. The Raptors battled out of an early 14-point hole, then got 15 points from Leonard in the fourth quarter to send the top-seeded Bucks to their first three-game losing streak of the season. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points for Milwaukee hours after being announced as a unanimous first-team, All-NBA selection. Eric Bledsoe scored 20 and Malcolm Brogdon added 18 points and 11 rebounds in his return to the starting lineup. The Raptors were clinging to a two-point lead in the closing minute after Khris Middleton drove around Leonard on the baseline for a layup. Toronto was initially called for a shot-clock violation when Leonard missed a fadeaway jumper with 35 seconds left. That got overturned by a replay review, and Brook Lopez was called for a foul, instead, for bumping Marc Gasol after he retrieved the loose ball. Gasol hit both free throws to make it 100-97. Another replay review went in Toronto's favor when officials determined a ball went out of bounds off Brogdon with 26.8 seconds left. Brogdon pulled his hand away, thinking his dribble had gone off Pascal Siakam's foot. Siakam then drove for a dunk, making it 102-97, and the Raptors hung on from there. Milwaukee was leading 81-79 with about 8.5 minutes left when Leonard nailed back-to-back three-pointers. He hit two free throws before Siakam threw down a put-back dunk to make it 89-81. The Bucks tied it at 93-all with 2:44 left on a three-pointer by Lopez. VanVleet answered with one of his own before Antetokounmpo threw down an alley-oop dunk to cut it to 96-95 with just over two minutes remaining. The Bucks set a fast pace early on and led by 10 after the first quarter, delighting the towel-waving fans chanting "Fear The Deer! Fear the Deer!" They withstood a 16-2 run by Toronto to start the second, with Antetokounmpo nailing a triple to stop it. The Bucks also went on a 14-2 run early in the third, with the Greek Freak throwing down a hard dunk off a feed by Middleton for a 63-51 lead. But the Raptors got right back into it. TIP-INS Raptors: Lowry now has 1,126 points in 66 playoff games for Toronto, surpassing DeMar DeRozan (1,117) as the franchise's postseason scoring leader. Bucks: Brogdon started all 64 games he played in during the regular season, before missing basically all of the first two rounds because of a heel injury. With Brogdon back in the lineup, Nikola Mirotic came off the bench. UP NEXT Game 6 is at Toronto on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019

Bucks lead East finals 2-0, and now series shifts to Toronto

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry have more than held their own against Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton so far in these Eastern Conference finals. Other than some pretty boxscores, the Toronto Raptors have nothing to show for those efforts. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] The supporting cast hasn’t supported much for Toronto, and with what is almost certainly a must-win Game 3 of the East title series looming on Sunday night at home, Raptors coach Nick Nurse is weighing lineup tweaks. Nurse suggested Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) that Serge Ibaka may start at center over struggling Marc Gasol, and Norman Powell may get minutes that would figure to come at Danny Green’s expense. “We’ve got to be better, man,” Nurse said Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). “We’ve got to be more physical, we’ve got to hustle more and we’ve got to work harder.” He may as well have punctuated that by adding “or else.” In this playoff format that was put into play in 1984, teams that win the first two games at home of a best-of-seven series have ultimately prevailed 94% of the time. And that’s the luxury Milwaukee has right now, leading the series 2-0 after rallying to win the opener and then controlling Game 2 start to finish. “We can’t rest,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We can’t relax. We can’t assume anything.” So the odds are stacked against the Raptors. Nurse was told the lack of success teams have when down 0-2 in a series, and insisted he doesn’t care. “I don’t really give a crap about that,” he said. “I just want our team to come play their (butt) off tomorrow night and get one game and it changes the series.” Leonard and Lowry are outscoring Antetokounmpo and Middleton 107-77 — which would figure to have been a boon to Toronto’s chances. It hasn’t worked that way. Add up everyone else’s scoring in the series, and it’s Bucks 156, Raptors 96. Rebounding has been one-sided in both games, with Milwaukee controlling things on the backboards. Bench scoring has tilted heavily toward Milwaukee as well. “We’re just trying to be us,” Bucks center Brook Lopez said. “We’re not playing any differently, regular season or postseason. We’re just trying to go out there and play Bucks basketball. It starts with our defense. Getting stops. Getting out. Playing in transition. Playing with pace. Sharing the ball and being aggressive and attacking the basket.” The Raptors don’t have to look at the history books to know this series isn’t over. All they need to do is recall the 2012 Western Conference finals. Leonard and Green were with top-seeded San Antonio, and Ibaka was with second-seeded Oklahoma City. The Spurs won Games 1 and 2 at home — then lost the next four, and the Thunder went to the NBA Finals. “We have another chance to bounce back on Sunday,” Gasol said. “That’s all that matters right now. That’s all that matters.” Here’s some of what to know before Game 3: QUICK WIT: Leonard, who isn’t the most talkative guy in the league to put it mildly, had a simple answer when asked where the Raptors go from here after the Game 2 loss. “I’m going to Toronto for Game 3,” Leonard said. WE (BARELY) THE NORTH: The series now shifts to Toronto, where the Raptors’ motto is “We The North.” It is, but barely in this case. Toronto is about 430 miles east of Milwaukee by air, and is only slightly north. And it should be noted that Toronto isn’t even the northernmost city that will be playing host to conference final games this weekend — Portland holds that distinction. GREEK FREAKS: Census figures show that at least a quarter-million Greeks live in Canada, and roughly half of those live in Ontario. Antetokounmpo isn’t expecting an overly warm welcome, but has seen a few Greek flags in the crowd on his past trips to Toronto. Antetokounmpo said he’d be touched if they were there Sunday, but isn’t thinking about it too much. “I’m going to try not to focus as much in the people and the Greeks and the population in Toronto,” Antetokounmpo said. “Just focusing on Game 3 and what we’ve got to do.” OFF, WISCONSIN: Including Games 1 and 2 of this series, matchups in Wisconsin are rarely kind to Nurse. He played at Northern Iowa, a conference rival of Green Bay — and his teams went 1-8 in those games, 0-4 at Green Bay’s former home court, the being-demolished Brown County Arena. Nurse said it was a nice place, but wasn’t upset to hear it’s coming down. “There weren’t very many good memories for me,” he said. BREAK FROM DRAKE: At least one Milwaukee radio station is taking this series extremely seriously. WXSS-FM is not allowing any songs by Raptors superfan Drake to be played on its station until the East finals are over. “We’re taking a break from you,” the station wrote in an open letter of sorts to the Toronto native and courtside ticketholder......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2019

Lopez to rescue as Bucks turn back Raptors

Lopez to rescue as Bucks turn back Raptors.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsMay 16th, 2019

Has Kyrie Irving played his last game for Celtics?

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press It begins. When the buzzer sounded in Milwaukee on Wednesday night, the question immediately became this: Has Kyrie Irving played his last game for the Boston Celtics? It’s very possible. Welcome to free agency, Kyrie. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] He’s now in the place that other big names like Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson all will be whenever their respective seasons end, whether that happens with a playoff defeat, or with an injury — Durant left Game 5 of Golden State’s Western Conference semifinal series against Houston on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) with a right calf strain — or with their fingerprints smudging the golden surface of the Larry O’Brien Trophy. They will all hear some version of the question that Irving got. Free agency doesn’t technically start until July 1, but in actuality it began for the superstar point guard with 8:40 left in the fourth quarter of Game 5 — when he checked out for the last time in what capped Boston’s ousting from the Eastern Conference semifinals by the Milwaukee Bucks. He has a player option for next season, one that would pay him about $21 million. No one expects him to pick up that option. Irving got the question a number of different ways Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time), and his defense was stellar. No hints, whatsoever. “I’m just trying to make it back to Boston first, safely,” Irving said. “Get to see my family. Decompress. Do what human beings do.” This will be a seismic free-agent summer in the NBA and everyone has known this was coming for some time. Durant, Butler, Leonard, Thompson, Irving and Kemba Walker all may sign deals worth well over $100 million apiece. Combined, the total value of those six looming contracts could flirt with $1 billion if everyone involved decides to max-out and not take shorter-term deals. The New York Knicks might have close to $75 million in salary-cap space, more than enough to potentially land Irving and Durant. The Los Angeles Clippers could have close to $60 million. Brooklyn, Dallas, Atlanta and Indiana might have about $50 million apiece. The Los Angeles Lakers — even with LeBron James’ big contract and a coaching search that has gone from slow to stuck — have more than enough to add some major names. It will be wild, starting with lots of eyes on Golden State. Questions about Durant leaving have percolated all season and will only pick up between now and July 1. Thompson’s future has been the source of much debate. Imagine: The Warriors could win their third straight title and fourth in five years, and they might break up anyway. Butler will take a long look at signing elsewhere, and he might start hearing ‘the question’ as soon as Thursday (Friday, PHL time) when Philadelphia now on the ropes against Toronto. Leonard’s future with the Raptors may be tied to how deep they go in the playoffs. Walker’s situation in Charlotte hinges on the size of the offer the Hornets make to keep him. Irving tried to make all the chatter about his future go away in early October, when he stole the show at a preseason event for Celtics fans at the team’s arena in Boston. He grabbed the microphone, walked toward midcourt and delivered a sentence that is going to get replayed a lot over the next eight weeks. “If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here,” Irving said. Sounded great then. Doesn’t seem so iron-clad now. And truth be told, the Celtics might be thinking they’re better off without Irving anyway given how they went deeper in the playoffs with him sidelined last season and his struggles over the last four games of the Milwaukee series. They were 35-19 at one point. They went 19-18 the rest of the way. They went 14-17 in Irving’s last 31 appearances. They were 12-3 when he didn’t play this season. Irving won’t be taking a whole lot of questions — if any — over the next few weeks about his future. He knows what would be asked. All that matters now is his answer. ___ Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds@ap.org.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 9th, 2019

Bucks stars sit down, supporting cast steps up

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com BOSTON – Giannis Antetokounmpo sat down. Khris Middleton sat down. And the Milwaukee Bucks’ chance of beating the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series seemed to sit down with them. In a hostile arena, against an opponent that by all rights should have been desperate (though the emotion never did quite translate to the Celtics’ performance), losing your best two players to foul trouble at a crucial point in the second half should have been too much for Milwaukee. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Antetokounmpo got whistled for his fourth personal foul with 8:18 left in the third quarter, the teams tied at 59-59. Before the score ever budged, 61 seconds later, Middleton got his fourth. It was automatic for Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer to yank both his All-Stars, with so much game left and the risk of one or both fouling out so great. This should have been the opportunity the Celtics needed. They had misfired their way to that point, shooting 37 percent overall in the first half and 4-of-19 on three-pointers. But they had their full complement of starters available. Boston should have pounced. Boston should have cracked open the game right there and earned itself a 2-2 series tie. Instead, the Bucks stiffened, then pushed back. They might even have ended the series, turning that stretch of resiliency to end the third quarter into a 113-101 victory. They hold a 3-1 lead now with a chance to close it out at home in Game 5 Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) and advance to the conference finals. That’s how pivotal the Bucks’ plucky response to adversity was. They not only fended off the Celtics during that star-starved stretch, they took the lead: Milwaukee went on a little 13-9 run to the 2:31 mark of the third, triggering a timeout by Boston coach Brad Stevens. Then play resumed, and the Bucks outscored them again 8-4 to close the quarter. It was the exact opposite of what should have happened, Milwaukee opening up an 80-72 lead while playing shorthanded, and Boston squandering such a ripe chance to seize the game. Yet there wasn’t much surprise showing in the visitors’ dressing room. “We were just playing the same way,” said center Brook Lopez. “We always say, ‘Same way. Same way,’ and just keep grinding. We did a great job these past two games just grinding for the first 30, 35 minutes or whatever, and then just taking advantage whenever the moment comes.” This should have been Boston’s moment, though. It’s true that the Bucks’ depth has been a weapon all season and that their role players have prided themselves on maintaining -- or adding to -- leads. But c’mon, they were working without a net this time. Antetokounmpo and Middleton had to sit for a while at least, if not the balance of the quarter. The worst thing that could happen if they came back too soon would be picking up their fifth fouls. The second-worst thing would be playing overly cautious to avoid doing that. Didn’t the players who stepped into the breach feel the burden? “We didn’t really feel that way,” Lopez said. “We had that trust and belief in one another. We were just trying not to have any sort of letdown.” Budenholzer dealt with the fragile situation by reminding himself that he typically subs out his stars in that general vicinity of the game. Keeping them fresh for the fourth quarter is a priority, particularly with Antetokounmpo. It’s just that this time, the terms were dictated to the Bucks coach. “It’s always hard to take out Giannis, let’s just start there,” Budenholzer said. But he added, “Because of our normal subs rotation, it wasn’t as tough to take him out.” Lopez, George Hill, Ersan Ilyasova, Eric Bledsoe, Nikola Mirotic, Pat Connaughton and Sterling Brown all played during Antetokounmpo’s and Middleton’s absences. (Middleton returned for an uneventful final 20 seconds in the period.) Bledsoe got it going offensively, then Hill – not unlike his super-sub showing in Game 3 – scored nine of Milwaukee’s final 11 points in the quarter. And they all locked in defensively, making life miserable for a Celtics team that never recovered. “Absolutely. We’re always defense first,” Lopez said. “I think we even stepped up our intensity in that moment.” The Greek Freak, while all this was going on, sat between deep reserves D.J. Wilson and inactive rookie Donte DiVincenzo with a concerned look on his face and nervous energy bouncing through one leg. Tough benchmate? “I mean, he’s one of those guys who wants to play all 48,” Wilson said. “He hates when he comes out. He’s kind of like that every game.” Said Antetokounmpo: “It’s amazing to see that the bench can keep playing hard, keep defending hard and set the tone for us.” The past two games, the Bucks’ bench has outscored Boston’s 74-23. So Milwaukee didn’t just survive, it thrived. It started the fourth with its top guys more rested than usual. And oh, did it show. Antetokounmpo scored 17 points in that quarter, but, playing all 12 minutes during which he scored half of the Bucks’ 12 field goals and grabbed seven rebounds. Middleton was scoreless but was a plus-seven the rest of the way, second only to Connaughton’s plus-11. Boston wound up trading baskets for much of the fourth. Al Horford’s layup at 7:25 got his team within 91-86, only to see Lopez and Antetokounmpo score all of the Bucks’ points in a 14-6 stretch that ate up five minutes. The home team seemed to be fraying, bringing an air of inevitability to the night. Speculation that it might have been All-Star guard Kyrie Irving’s final game as a Celtic in Boston – he’ll be a free agent this summer and never has seemed particularly happy here – began immediately. Irving, after a golden Game 1, has played haphazardly in the past three while shooting a combined 19-of-62. “Who cares?” he said. “It’s a little different when your rhythm is challenged every play down. You’re being picked up full court. They’re doing things to test you. The expectations on me are going to be sky high. I try to utilize their aggression against them and still put my teammates in great positions, while still being aggressive and trying to do it all. “For me, the 22 shots? I should have shot 30.” The Bucks, boasting strong chemistry since training camp, never has looked tighter. In fact, when Lopez was asked if he felt a sense of relief that they reached the fourth quarter without getting pummeled, he wouldn’t go there. “I don’t think it’s a sense of relief,” he said. “I don’t want to say that, because one through 15 we have trust in everyone in this locker room. Whoever we have out on the floor, we’re never like, ‘Oh damn, we’re stuck with these guys.’” Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 7th, 2019

Celtics need best version of Irving back

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com BOSTON — The Boston Celtics are looking forward to getting guard Marcus Smart back, possibly as soon as Game 4 against Milwaukee Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) at TD Garden. They would be better served, however, getting guard Kyrie Irving back. The Irving who led Boston to its victory on the Bucks’ court in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals series was the latest, greatest iteration of the six-time All-Star point guard. Irving scored 26 points, passed for 11 assists and showed such maturity in orchestrating Boston’s attack that, even for a guy who has been on the national stage as long as he has, it seemed like some sort of breakthrough performance. That guy, though, exited this series some time in the 48 hours before Game 2. Kryie 3.0 became Kyrie uh-oh. Irving’s play looked rushed, detached and not at all mature. After hitting 12-of-21 shots in the series opener, he shot a combined 12-of-40 in Games 2 and 3 as the Celtics dropped both. They gave back the homecourt edge they had snatched with the opening victory and now need to win Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) just to force a best-of-three mini-series with two in Milwaukee. Irving had a plus/minus rating of minus-26 in the two Celtics defeats. And most disconcerting, the player who arguably is the NBA’s best at making difficult shots seemed bent on making his shots difficult. Too often he went solo, didn’t probe for something better, didn’t spot or even look for another option. Irving and Boston coach Brad Stevens had a conversation off to the side after the Celtics’ practice Sunday afternoon (Monday, PHL time) of moderate length. Afterward, each spoke with reporters. The point guard wouldn’t share what they discussed, while the coach deftly sidestepped the question. “We just wanted to spend 15 minutes talking about the objection of the Kentucky Derby,” Stevens said. “How that could possibly have happened. And so we just created a conversation as long as the objection, and that’s what we discussed in great detail.” Not likely. Stevens probably talked with Irving about some of the things the coach had said to reporters Saturday and Sunday (Sunday and Monday, PHL time): the need for the Celtics not to settle and not to succumb to whatever chaos Milwaukee’s defense was instigating by getting chaotic themselves. For two days, answering various questions, Stevens has steered the discussion to Boston moving the ball as the surest way to high-quality shots. “One of the things that we have to do as a team is just make those right reads off the first drive,” Stevens said, “and then go from there. We do have to do a better job of getting the ball to the second side of the floor, to the third side of the floor, and hopefully that includes as many paint attacks as possible.” The Bucks’ unveiled a switching style of defense in Game 2, something they hadn’t done much all season. Too often, Irving’s eyes lit up seeing center Robin Lopez or forward Nikola Mirotic isolated in front of him, and the tunnel vision that triggered didn’t even generate the best shots for Irving. Too seldom, the Celtics failed to get Milwaukee’s defense shifting left-to-right, and back again. “We have to make sure we’re patient in getting the best looks,” Stevens said Sunday (Monday, PHL time). “That patience doesn’t mean you ease into it. You have to work really hard and be patient against these guys. Because they do a great job of covering up the paint.” Celtics players made only 9-of-19 attempts inside five feet, a feeble rate by NBA standards. Lopez has been one of the league’s best defending the rim this season, and Giannis Antetokounmpo has the mobility to guard his man away from the hoop and still help inside. Admirably, Irving has been willing to shoulder responsibility, flatly stating after the Game 2 loss: “This is what I signed up for. This is what Boston traded for me for.” After each game, he has given detailed breakdowns of what’s gone right, what’s gone wrong and, most important, what he planned to do in the next game. It’s just that his most recent results haven’t matched his pledges. The Celtics have more talent than the Bucks, and more players capable of carrying them offensively through a game or just a pivotal stretch. But those scorers, from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to Al Horford and Gordon Hayward, are dependent on Irving finding them and delivering the ball in a rhythm. Admittedly, Boston has to cinch things up defensively. Averaging 110 points ought to be enough, if you’re not getting blistered at a 39-percent rate from three-point range while sending your opponents to the free throw line an average of 30 times nightly. Irving blamed all those stoppages for stealing transition opportunities and generally messing with the Celtics’ offense. Even so, he must do what Stevens calls “controlling the controllables” and be his best self. He has gotten the better of his individual matchup with Milwaukee point guard Eric Bledsoe, but that’s not enough. And yes, this is what he signed up for. The great unknowns of this offseason, as in Irving’s future whereabouts, could swing wildly on what happens in the coming days. And what he makes happen. “I’ve got to be me. That’s the easy part,” Irving said Sunday (Monday, PHL time). “The same mindset that I’ve always had. Being aggressive. Being patient. Being able to be aware of the time of the game and where I need to make my impact. Being able to be in the right defensive positions and being able to communicate with my teammates as well. “That’s the easy part though. That’s the fun part, if you go out there and just allow the flow of the game to dictate your instincts.” Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2019

Bucks learn playoff lesson in closing out late Celtics charge

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com BOSTON — In snatching a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinals series, the Milwaukee Bucks demonstrated so much of what’s gone right about their season. They also sputtered through a stretch late in the game during which things most definitely went wrong. The list of happy things stretched long: Giannis Antetokounmpo was the best player on the floor and in Kia NBA MVP contention mode as he scored 32 points with 13 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks in Milwaukee’s 123-116 victory over the Boston Celtics Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) at TD Garden. Fans and viewers got a glimpse of the Bucks’ scoring potency when, coming out of halftime, they posted the first 40-point quarter of this series. The defense that coach Mike Budenholzer demands was especially evident in limiting Boston to 14-of-36 shooting in the second half. Then there was Milwaukee’s deep rotation and trust in reserves – guards George Hill (21 points) and Pat Connaughton (14) led their bench’s 42-16 scoring advantage. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] The down side came near the end, when Milwaukee’s late-game execution was so poor Budenholzer didn’t even want to talk about it in front of the cameras and microphones afterward. He preferred to wait until Saturday (Sunday, PHL time), when he could directly address his players while they review video of Game 3. “I’ll save it for film tomorrow,” Budenholzer said. “It’s not very smart. It’s not very good. That’s the great thing for coaches … we’ll find more things where we can get better. We just touched on one of them for sure.” What happened was, the Bucks opened a fat lead – 17 points in the fourth quarter – and squandered much of it. They did it in the most damaging way possible, too, by sending a parade of Celtics to the foul line to score with the game clock stopped. With 4:51 left Milwaukee was up 114-97, more than doubling the eight-point edge they held when the final period began. With 1:20 left, that lead was down to 118-111, whittled down by Jaylen Brown’s fast-break layup and the Celtics’ perfect 12-for-12 from the line in that stretch. Many of the fans at TD Garden were heading to the exits, even as the Bucks appeared to be heading for trouble. You wondered if some might wind up knocking to get back in, à la the Miami fans who bailed on the Heat before Ray Allen’s famous three-pointer saved Game 6 of the 2013 Finals. Those late minutes of the fourth quarter seemed to last an eternity, and that was just for spectators and viewers. It felt twice that to the Bucks’ players and coaches. “It was [long],” said Pau Gasol, the veteran All-Star watching these days as an inactive player on Milwaukee’s roster. “But I think it’s part of the growth of this team, learning how to deal with those type of scenarios and situations.” It wasn’t just that the Bucks were burning through their lead. It’s that Boston was energized watching their late scramble pay off. Al Horford sank six free throws in the run; Jayson Tatum, four; and Gordon Hayward, two. “On the road, that gets a little dicey,” Connaughton said. “Whenever a team gets a little life at the end of a game, especially when they cut a [17-point lead to seven], that’s never a fun thing. But I think the way we were able to withstand it and make a bucket here or there to nullify what they were doing at the free throw line was good.” Said Gasol: “The Celtics are trying to rush possessions, trying to rush you into bad decisions. So you have to be patient, hold the ball, understand the possessions and get a good shot. Don’t turn it over. We didn’t do a very good job of that at the end.” Step by step, point by point, the Celtics were gaining hope. So … much … time … left. Gasol’s analysis from the side? “We were very aggressive tonight defensively. And at the end, we weren’t able to turn it down and play smarter. We kept that pressure on, and that led us to commit silly fouls or unnecessary fouls, and put them at the line when we didn’t want them there. The experience in your brain has to tell you to be smarter.” Milwaukee did manage a few high notes during the low period: Hill pounced on an offensive rebound to steal a basket. At 118-105, Antetokounmpo blocked Kyrie Irving’s fast-break layup to save two points and stifle a sure crowd explosion. “I don’t think we were really concerned,” said center Brook Lopez. “We just tried to keep our foot on the gas. Keep that intensity. They drew some fouls and made some free throws. And then they had the little funky 1-3-1 defense, whatever that was. They were trying to trap a little. We’ll look at that [on film].” This is not about nitpicking. This is about focusing on the growth still available to a Milwaukee team with lofty ambitions. Antetokounmpo was special. The Bucks were stingy enough on defense. But when they talked about playing their game for 48 minutes, they should have ‘fessed up on the three-and-a-half of those that nearly bit them. The Celtics ran out of time – only 10.6 seconds remained when they got within five, 121-116. And Antetokounmpo, who missed six of his first 20 free throws, didn’t miss his final pair. The Bucks, in essence, earned the ability to swoon by padding their lead early. But their close out was less than optimal, which is probably not how Budenholzer will put it in closed quarters. “We know they’re not going to quit,” Lopez said. “So we’ve just got to stick with it the entirety of the game. I know it’s a boring answer, but Game 4, we’ve got to do the same thing.” Maybe not exactly the same. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 4th, 2019

Bucks loathe to adjust gameplan after season-long success

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com MILWAUKEE — Just one game removed from one of the most marvelous seasons of basketball in Milwaukee Bucks history – 60 victories in the regular season, a sweep of Detroit in the first round, the debut of a dazzling new arena – the team is loathe to let all that go and overreact to 48 minutes that didn’t go their way in Sunday's (Monday, PHL time) Game 1 loss to the Celtics. But if they underreact in Game 2 Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) at Fiserv Forum, it will be at their own peril. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Adjustments – from game-to-game, at halftime, even on the fly during live action – are as much a part of the NBA postseason as podium interviews. The reason is simple: Strategic mistakes, small failings and tendencies you can get away with facing teams randomly across a six-month canvas are sniffed out and exploited by an opponent you see as many as seven times in a two-week span. You can stubbornly stick with a pat hand, but most coaches and players would rather change things up to minimize what didn’t work last time and might, if repeated, prove fatal again. The Bucks, though, sounded a little clingy Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) in the wake of their 112-90 defeat. Wanting to hold on to everything that worked so well from October until, well, noon on April 28 (April 29, PHL time). “No, no. Definitely not,” forward Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “We’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing all year.” You might be inclined to read that quote assuming sarcasm, as in: Oh right, we’re just going to keep doing exactly what got us blown out and stripped of home-court advantage. Sure. After all, Antetokounmpo had one of his worst performances of the season (7-for-21 FGs, a minus-24 rating). But no, the Greek Freak was sincere. “I don’t think there should be no change at all,” he said. “Why should there be a change after a game that we lost, like … we should not be the team that makes the adjustments.” Antetokounmpo was not alone. “The way we’ve been playing all season has been just letting it fly,” center Brook Lopez said. “So even if we miss it 10-out-of-10 times, just keep [shooting].” The Bucks made 13 of their 39 three-point shots Sunday (Monday, PHL time), well off their regular-season rate of 38.2 percent. Lopez was 1-for-4 on three's and 1-for-5 overall, combining with fellow Bucks starters Sterling Brown and Eric Bledsoe to shoot 3-for-17 from the floor. Said Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer: “I think adjustments and all those things are sometimes overrated.” So unless the Bucks are trying to snooker the Celtics with some tweaks they weren’t willing to share, we’ll get to see how that pat hand plays out. Milwaukee did get serious mileage out of its formulas prior to Game 1. Offensively, they’ve surrounded Antetokounmpo with potent three-point shooters, relying on his drives into the lane to draw defenders and offer them unobstructed views from the arc. Defensively, they committed to defending the other guys’ three-pointers, protecting the rim and keeping foes off the foul line. What did that leave? Contested two-pointers and mid-range jumpers – so ugly and out-of-style in the NBA of 2019. It all worked tremendously – until the Celtics shot 15-of-27 on mid-range attempts in their rout. Suddenly, the Bucks’ sagging defense against pick-and-rolls looked as gimmicky and ineffective as that tactic deployed late this season of guarding Houston scorer James Harden from behind. Once the prolific Rockets scorer got over his shock at the unusual method, he was able to pick it apart. Ditto for the Celtics' shooters. Kyrie Irving is one of the most dangerous scorers from any place on the floor but particularly inventing ways to put the ball in the hoop in the mid-range. Celtics veteran Al Horford savored his looks inside the arc, as did Gordon Hayward. The Bucks, meanwhile, were 5-of-12 from mid-range. They try to avoid those shots for the same reasons they encourage opponents to take them. Never mind that the same dynamic was in play in the Houston-Golden State opener later in the day: the Rockets took only four mid-range shots, were 14-of-47 on three's and lost, because the Warriors were 10-of-23 on mid-range attempts and 31-of-53 on two-pointers overall. There is one area in which the Bucks believe they can adjust without, y’know, adjusting. They can play harder. A pervasive lack of hustle and urgency was apparent in real time at Fiserv but was undeniable when Budenholzer and his staff went to “the truth machine” before practice Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). That would be the video the Bucks reviewed before Monday's (Tuesday, PHL time) workout. “He chewed us out. And like I say, ‘Film don’t lie,’” Bledsoe said. “It was effort, man. We weren’t playing our game.” Antetokounmpo said he got scolded on that front in a postgame phone call from his older brother Thanasis. “No. 1, I play for my family,” he said. “So when he’s like, ‘C’mon man. Giannis! You’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. You’ve got to still be aggressive. You’ve got to make the right pass,’ it stabs you in your heart. But at the end of the day, I know it’s the truth.” The Bucks appeared a step slow on both ends. It showed when they went after loose balls or closed out on Celtics shooters. And it showed when lollygagging, relatively, in getting to their spots on offense. Boston already was sending extra defenders at Antetokounmpo, and the Bucks not being crisp in their execution never made them pay. “We weren’t as quick in transition,” Lopez said. “Our pace wasn’t great … We can be better at getting it out. Everyone running the floor, finding their spots. Keeping the spacing wide.” It should be noted the Bucks only lost two games in a row one time all season (March 2-4 against the Jazz and Suns). They’re proud of that resiliency. Of course, in the regular season, they only played the same opponent in consecutive games one time (New York, Dec. 26-28, PHL time). The Bucks never had to react after losses to specific things the other guys did. They merely had to be themselves, only better. “Even though we lost the first game, we’re just gonna come out and play our hardest and see how Game 2 goes,” Antetokounmpo said. “If it doesn’t go well for us, then you can think about adjusting. But right now, we’re not adjusting nothing.” Fine. But unless someone rattles Boston out of its comfort zone in the mid-range, Milwaukee’s adherence to its style of play could contribute to its undoing. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2019

Numbers preview: Milwaukee Bucks (1) vs. Boston Celtics (4)

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com The Milwaukee Bucks were the best team in the Eastern Conference in the regular season, finishing with both the league's best record and it's best point differential. But the playoffs are different than the regular season, and after sweeping a hobbled opponent in the first round, the Bucks now face a team with much more postseason experience. The Boston Celtics were supposed to be where the Bucks are, holding the No. 1 seed and favored to reach The Finals. They also swept through the first round, but with a little more drama than Milwaukee went through. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Milwaukee has the MVP favorite and has built a successful system around him. Boston has a group that reached Game 7 of the conference finals last year and a star that hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history. Both teams have shown that they can get it done on both ends of the floor. Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the Eastern Conference semifinals. Milwaukee Bucks (60-22, 4-0) First round: Beat Detroit in four games. Pace: 101.3 (5) OffRtg: 120.2 (1) DefRtg: 96.8 (3) NetRtg: +23.5 (1) Bucks postseason notes - General: 1. Won a playoff series for the first time since 2001. That had been the league's longest active drought. 2. Outscored the Pistons by 23.5 points per 100 possessions, the sixth best mark for any team in any series in the 23 years for which we have play-by-play data (338 total series). None of the four games were within five points in the last five minutes. 3. Outscored the Pistons by 52.5 points per 100 possessions in the third quarter, the best mark for any team in any quarter in the first round. 4. Rank 15th in time of possession, controlling the ball for just 19.8 minutes per game. Bucks postseason notes - Offense: 1. Were the most improved offensive team in the first round, scoring 6.7 more points per 100 possessions than they did in the regular season (when they ranked fourth offensively). The 120.2 per 100 they scored were also 11.6 more than Detroit allowed in the regular season, and that was the biggest jump in defensive efficiency. 2. Rank seventh in the playoffs in ball movement (314 passes per 24 minutes of possessions) and second in player movement (11.5 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession). 3. Have averaged 26 transition possessions per game, most in the postseason. 4. Have shot 40.2 percent on catch-and-shoot three-pointers, second best in the postseason. Bucks postseason notes - Defense: 1. The Pistons averaged 56.8 drives per game, fourth most in the first round. But they shot just 35 percent and drew fouls just 4.0 percent of the time on drives. Those were both the lowest marks in the first round. 2. Detroit shot 45 percent in the restricted area and 42 percent in the paint overall. Both were the worst marks in the first round. 3. Allowed Detroit to score 117.5 points per 100 possessions in the second quarter, but just 89.7 per 100 otherwise. Bucks postseason notes - Lineups: 1. Starting lineup - Bledsoe, Brown, Middleton, Antetokounmpo and Lopez - outscored the Pistons by 39.5 points per 100 possessions, the third best mark among lineups that have played at least 35 minutes in the playoffs. 2. The Bucks have outscored their opponents by 38.7 per 100 with Brook Lopez on the floor. That is the best on-court NetRtg mark among players that have averaged at least 15 minutes in three postseason games or more. 3. The Bucks have allowed just 84.7 points per 100 possessions with George Hill on the floor. That is the lowest on-court DefRtg mark among players that have averaged at least 15 minutes in three postseason games or more. Bucks postseason notes - Individuals: 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the postseason in both fast break points per game (7.3) and ranks second in points in the paint per game (15.5). 2. Antetokounmpo has taken 23.9 percent of his shots from three-point range, up from 16.3 percent in the regular season. That's the second biggest increase among players with at least 500 field goal attempts in the regular season and at least 50 in the playoffs. 3. Antetokounmpo has a free throw rate of 61 attempts per 100 shots from the field, highest among players with at least 50 postseason field goal attempts. He has shot 63 percent from the line, the worst mark among players who have averaged at least six free throw attempts per game. 4. Antetokounmpo has grabbed 18.6 percent of available rebounds while he's been on the floor. That's the fourth highest rate among 125 players who have averaged at least 15 minutes in three playoff games or more. 5. Sterling Brown had two first-round games with six or more assists. He's recorded six or more assists just once in 112 career regular-season games. 6. Eric Bledsoe has shot 20-for-24 (83 percent) in the restricted area, the second best mark among players with at least 20 restricted-area attempts in the playoffs. Antetokounmpo (29-for-39) has the third best mark. 7. Bledsoe eight blocks, two steals and just four personal fouls. That ratio of steals + blocks per personal foul (2.5) is the highest among players who have played at least 50 minutes in the postseason. Pat Connaughton (2.3) has the second highest ratio and is one of two players that have played at least 50 minutes and have more blocks than personal fouls. 8. The other is Brook Lopez, who has averaged a postseason-high 3.5 blocks per game. Opponents have shot 42 percent at the rim when Lopez has been there to protect it. That's the second best rim protection mark among players who have defended at least five shots at the rim per game. Antetokounmpo (21 percent) has the best mark among players who have defended at least four per game. 9. Khris Middleton has shot 8-for-12 on pull-up three-pointers, the best mark among players who have attempted at least 10. He's shot just 3-for-12 on catch-and-shoot threes. Boston Celtics (49-33, 4-0) First round: Beat Indiana in four games. Pace: 95.8 (11) OffRtg: 103.7 (12) DefRtg: 95.8 (1) NetRtg: +7.8 (5) Celtics postseason notes - General: 1. Three of their wins over Indiana were within five points in the last five minutes. 2. Trailed at halftime in three of the four games. Were outscored by 5.2 points per 100 possessions in the first half and outscored the Pacers by 21.2 in the second half. Celtics postseason notes - Offense: 1. Worst first-round offense (103.7 points scored per 100 possessions) among teams that have advanced to the conference semifinals. 2. Scored just 96.3 points per 100 possessions in their two home games, but 110.9 in two games in Indiana. 3. Rank eighth in the playoffs in ball movement (313 passes per 24 minutes of possessions) and 13th in player movement (10.7 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession). 4. Rank 14th in field goal percentage in the paint (48.5 percent), but third in effective field goal percentage on shots from outside the paint (54.0 percent). Celtics postseason notes - Defense: 1. Were the most improved defensive team in the first round, allowing 11.2 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did in the regular season (when they ranked sixth defensively). The 95.8 per 100 they allowed were also 13.5 fewer than Indiana scored in the regular season, and that was the biggest drop-off in offensive efficiency. Had the best defensive game of the playoffs thus far (74 points allowed on 96 possessions). 2. Indiana averaged 11.8 roll man possessions, most in the postseason. But they scored just 0.89 points per possession on them, down from 1.03 in the regular season. 3. Held Indiana to just 0.52 points per possession, the postseason's lowest mark, on isolations. Celtics postseason notes - Lineups: 1. Lineup of Irving, Brown, Tatum, Horford and Baynes is one of five (and the only one among teams that haven't been eliminated) that have scored less than a point per possession in 35 minutes or more. It has been the best defensive rebounding lineup in that group. 2. The Celtics have scored just 87.7 points per 100 possessions with Baynes on the floor. That is the fourth lowest on-court OffRtg mark among players (and lowest among those that have advanced) that have averaged at least 15 minutes in three postseason games or more. They've scored 115.7 points per 100 possessions in 96 minutes with Horford on the floor without Baynes. 3. The Celtics have allowed just 84.8 points per 100 possessions with Terry Rozier on the floor. That is the second lowest on-court DefRtg mark among players that have averaged at least 15 minutes in three postseason games or more. Celtics postseason notes - Individuals: 1. Jaylen Brown has an effective field goal percentage of 69.0 percent, the fifth best mark among players with at least 25 postseason field goal attempts and up from 52.5 percent in the regular season. 2. Gordon Hayward has averaged 31.1 minutes per game off the bench, most among reserves in the playoffs. 3. Hayward was a perfect 4-for-4 on shots with the game within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter against Indiana. He also has the most free throw attempts in the postseason (11) without a miss. 4. Hayward leads the postseason with 1.8 secondary assists per game. 5. Al Horford has averaged 10.3 rebounds per game, up from 6.7 in the regular season. That's the biggest jump among 163 players who have played in at least three playoff games after playing in at least 40 regular season games. Jaylen Brown (from 4.2 to 6.8) has seen the fourth biggest jump. 6. Kyrie Irving has averaged 6.0 isolation possessions per game, third most in the playoffs. The 1.08 points per possession he's scored on those ranks second among players who have averaged at least three isolation possessions per game. 7. Irving has shot just 39 percent in the paint and has taken only 31 percent of his shots in the paint. Those marks are down from 55 percent and 42 percent in the regular season. 8. Marcus Morris has taken only eight percent (3-of-41) of his shots in the restricted area. That's the fifth lowest rate among 111 players with at least 25 shots in the playoffs and down from 21 percent in the regular season. 9. Jayson Tatum has scored just 0.45 points per possession (shooting 4-for-18) on isolations, the second worst mark among players who have averaged at least three isolation possessions per game. He's shot 25-for-39 (64 percent otherwise). Regular season matchup Bucks won, 2-1 (1-0 in Milwaukee) Nov. 1 (Nov. 2, PHL time) @ Boston - Celtics 117, Bucks 113 Dec. 21 (Dec. 22, PHL time) @ Boston - Bucks 120, Celtics 107 Feb. 21 (Feb. 22, PHL time) @ Milwaukee - Bucks 98, Celtics 97 Pace: 101.0 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes Milwaukee OffRtg: 109.5 (10th vs. Boston) Boston OffRtg: 105.6 (13th vs. Milwaukee) Matchup notes: 1. Aron Baynes played in the Celtics' win and missed their two losses. Jaylen Brown missed the first game, both Al Horford and Marcus Morris missed the second game (which Semi Ojeleye started at center), and Gordon Hayward missed the third game. Horford and Baynes played less than a minute together against the Bucks. (They were a minus-4 in 57 minutes together in last year's first round series.) 2. Nikola Mirotic was only with the Bucks for the third meeting, but played two games against Boston with the Pelicans and scored 25 points (shooting 6-for-11 from three-point range) against the Celtics on Nov. 26 (Nov. 27, PHL time). 3. The Bucks outscored the Celtics, 62-22, in the paint in the Nov. 1 (Nov. 2 PHL time) game. But the Celtics won with a franchise-record 24 three-pointers. 4. The Feb. 21 (Feb. 22, PHL time) game was one of just five games this season in which the Bucks scored less than point per possession, and the only one of those five games that they won. 5. The Bucks won the second quarter in all three games, scoring 139 points per 100 possessions. They lost the third quarter in all three, scoring just 92 per 100. 6. The Celtics outscored the Bucks by 23 points in 69 minutes with Al Horford on the floor and were outscored by 33 points in 75 minutes with Horford off the floor. The bigger difference was on defense, where they were 25.3 points per 100 possessions better with Horford on the floor. 7. The Bucks' regular starting lineup - Bledsoe, Brogdon, Middleton, Antetokounmpo and Lopez - was outscored by 21 points in its 36 minutes, registering more turnovers (17) than assists (15) and shooting just 4-for-20 from three-point range. 8. The 31.0 points Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged were the most for any Eastern Conference player that played at least two games against Boston. He had 46 points in the restricted area. No other player in the season series had more than 16. 9. Antetokounmpo recorded assists on just 13.7 percent of his possessions. That was his fifth lowest mark against any opponent this season. 10. Kyrie Irving shot 8-for-29 between the restricted area and the three-point line. Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart combined to shoot 2-for-22 from three-point range. 11. Bledsoe is one of three players who defended Irving for more than 100 possessions this season. Irving shot more than usual and the Celtics scored more efficiently than usual on those possessions where Bledsoe was the defender. 12. Horford was the primary defender on Antetokounmpo in the two games that Horford played, but Ojeleye defended Antetokounmpo for almost as many total possessions (40) as Horford (41) over the regular season series. The Celtics were more successful defensively on the possessions with Horford defending Antetokounmpo. The opposite was true in last year's playoff series. John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 28th, 2019

Lopez opposes Nickelodeon resort

Environment Secretary Regina Lopez said Wednesday she will oppose Nickelodeon’s plan to build a 100-hectare underwater theme park in Palawan......»»

Category: financeSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJan 11th, 2017

76ers beat Nets for 10th win, match last season's total

em>By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press /em> NEW YORK (AP) — Joel Embiid is no longer just trusting the process. Now he's talking about the playoffs. Embiid scored 20 points and the Philadelphia 76ers earned their 10th victory to match their total from all last season, beating the Brooklyn Nets 105-95 on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). The 76ers broke it open with a 17-2 surge in the fourth quarter to win the matchup between the NBA's two worst teams and improve to 10-25 in their first season with former lottery picks Embiid and Dario Saric. They were 10-72 in 2015-16, just off their own record for worst finish in the 82-game schedule. Embiid has looked at the standings and seen the 76ers are eight games back of eighth place in the Eastern Conference, and believes that should be a goal. 'I think we have a chance. We've been hot lately,' he said. 'We've won three out of four lately, so I look at it and I think we have a chance and we're really figuring things out. We're starting to learn how to win games.' Embiid did his damage without even reaching the 28-minute restriction he was limited to as he recovers from a series of foot injuries that delayed his NBA debut for two years. He left the court to chants of 'Trust the Process!' in a nod to what he and others reminded fans while the Sixers lost big during Sam Hinkie's rebuilding plan. Even as the victories come, coach Brett Brown said the building process remains most important. 'We are winning basketball games more frequently than we have been, but for us it's still, how are we doing what we do?' Brown said. 'Are we doing our job? Are we not skipping steps? Are we putting in good days? And we believe as simple as that might sound that they will add up.' Saric added 18 points, while Robert Covington and Nik Stauskas each had 15. Brook Lopez scored 26 points for the Nets (8-28), who have lost six in a row. The Nets led by 11 at halftime, but the Sixers scored the first 13 points of the third quarter to take their first lead at 59-57 on a jumper by Embiid. They opened the second half with a 30-9 spurt and went into the fourth ahead 78-73. 'I just didn't feel like that third quarter, it's like, 'Why isn't our energy the same?'' Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. Brooklyn recovered to take an 85-84 edge but it was all Sixers from there, closing their spurt with 13 straight points to make it 101-87 on Covington's 3-pointer. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>76ers: /strong> /em>Sergio Rodriguez returned after a three-game absence with a sprained left ankle, but T.J. McConnell remained the starter after recording a career-high 17 assists Friday (Saturday, PHL time) at Boston. Brown stopped short of saying it would stay that way long-term or even that McConnell would play the starter's share of the minutes, but praised his play in Rodriguez's absence. McConnell missed his first seven shots but finished with six assists and eight rebounds. em> strong>Nets: /strong> /em>The Nets fell to 7-2 against the 76ers at Barclays Center, their most wins against any team. Starting forward Trevor Booker left after just three minutes of the second half with a bruised left hip. The Nets originally ruled him out for the remainder of the game, but he returned with 4:36 to play. strong>NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN /strong> The 76ers spent their Saturday night in New York at the Broadway musical 'Hamilton,' the winner of 11 Tony Awards in 2016 that uses hip-hop music to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton and America's founding fathers. 'Team stuff like that, growing a culture, building a program off the floor, that stuff matters to us,' Brown said, 'and I think it's just one other example of just things you try to do with a team to just grow a program and grow a culture and it was a wonderful day.' strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>76ers: /strong> /em> Host New York on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time), the first meeting this season. em> strong>Nets: /strong> /em> Host Atlanta on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), Atkinson's first time coaching against the team where he was an assistant the previous four seasons. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

Antetokounmpo stuffs stat sheet, Bucks gore Bulls

CHICAGO (AP) Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 35 points, Jabari Parker added 27 and the Milwaukee Bucks used a huge fourth quarter to beat the Chicago Bulls 116-96 on Saturday night. The Bucks outscored the Bulls 36-20 in the fourth to break open a tight game and come away with a lopsided win after dropping four of six. Antetokounmpo dazzled with an array of layups and dunks. He also had nine rebounds and seven assists in another strong all-around performance. Parker scored 18 in the second half. Malcolm Brogdon finished with 15 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds. Greg Monroe scored 15, and the Bucks pulled away in the fourth quarter after pounding the Bulls on back-to-back nights two weeks ago. Chicago held out struggling point guard Rajon Rondo, hoping Michael Carter-Williams could provide a spark. But the Bulls lost for the eighth time in 11 games. Jimmy Butler scored 26 points for Chicago, and Robin Lopez added 12 points and 10 rebounds. Dwyane Wade had eight points on 3-of-13 shooting. The Bucks let an 11-point lead in the third quarter shrink to one early in the fourth, but put it away from there. Chicago closed to 80-79 on a 3 by Nikola Mirotic in the opening seconds of the quarter. But Milwaukee responded with a 10-0 run. Antetokounmpo started the decisive stretch by driving for a 3-point play and finished it with a free throw that bumped the lead to 90-79 with 8:33 remaining. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2017

Rating downgrade looms as Australia sticks to budget plan

Rating downgrade looms as Australia sticks to budget plan.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsDec 19th, 2016

Magpale Bucks DOH Plan to Distribute Condoms in Schools

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