How much abuse should a professional player be willing to take from a fan?

By March 12, 2019
Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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  • Giannis not feeling pressure despite Raptors revival Giannis not feeling pressure despite Raptors revival

    Giannis Antetokounmpo insisted there is no pressure on the Milwaukee Bucks despite allowing the Toronto Raptors to tie their Eastern Conference Finals series on Tuesday.

    The Bucks held a 2-0 lead after the opening pair of games in Milwaukee, but Toronto - after a thrilling double overtime win in Game 3 - levelled the series at 2-2 with a 120-102 victory at Scotiabank Arena in Game 4.

    Milwaukee trailed by 10 points at the half and were unable to overturn that deficit, with Antetokounmpo blaming a poor third quarter for their inability to produce a turnaround.

    "Obviously I think we started aggressive, in the third quarter we came out flat," Antetokounmpo said. 

    "It's something we can get better at, something we can fix, it's something that we've been doing all season.

    "Usually in the third quarter we come out and we're aggressive, making shots, moving the ball but we weren't able to do it.

    "But at the end of the day we're not going to lose our confidence, hopefully when we get back home we can execute better in the third quarter and the whole game."

    Performing in the third will be pivotal for the Bucks not only in this series but also if they do make it to the NBA Finals, where a Golden State Warriors team renowned for game-changing third-quarter runs will be the opposition.

    But Antetokounmpo does not believe there is any extra burden on the Bucks after this loss, adding: "There's no pressure, obviously we've got to take care of [our] home [matches], it's our job but I don't think there's pressure. We've just to go out there and have fun, play good basketball, be us, and try to win.

    "Just got to play with more energy, execute better, but our feeling is the same, doesn't change, they did their job. They protected home and we've got to do our job now.

    "Got to give them credit, obviously they are doing a great job defensively, helping one another, closing the drive lanes, using their hands in the passing lanes but we've got to execute better, got to take better care of the ball.

    "We've been playing good basketball the whole year, if you lose one or two games it's not the end of the world."

  • Raptors' VanVleet ends shooting slump after birth of second child Raptors' VanVleet ends shooting slump after birth of second child

    Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet credited the birth of his second child for helping him return to form after the worst shooting slump of his playoff career, as they levelled the Eastern Conference Finals with the Milwaukee Bucks.

    VanVleet flew to Illinois on Monday to witness the birth of his son Fred Jr, before hurrying back to Toronto for the Raptors' 120-102 Game 4 victory over the Bucks, which tied the series at 2-2.

    The 25-year-old went seven for 44 and three for 25 from three-point range since the start of the Conference semi-finals with the Philadelphia 76ers.

    However, in Game 4 he went five for six shooting and nailed all of his three-point attempts as he, Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka added 48 points from the bench.

    "It makes you tired," VanVleet said of the arrival of his second child. "It gives you a little perspective, I guess, on life.

    "I had a lot of time to think. Had to sit at the hospital all day, had a lot of time to think, obviously a plane ride back.

    "It just changes the way you're looking at things. You are not so down on yourself about everything."

    The bench's performance took the strain off Kawhi Leonard, with Toronto able to level things up despite the former San Antonio Spurs star tallying just 19 points after racking up 36 in their Game 3 win.

    "We know we have to be better," VanVleet added. "We see all the stuff. We understand what the narrative has turned into, that it is kind of 'Kawhi Leonard and The Backup Singers.'

    "We understand that. Sometimes it has been like that, and there's other stuff that goes into that. There's give and take there. But we have to do the same s*** again in Game 5."

    The Raptors are aiming to make the Finals for the first time in franchise history, with defending champions the Golden State Warriors awaiting the winner of the series.

    Leonard said of the production his team-mates delivered: "It was big time. Everybody contributed, knocking down shots, playing great defense.

    "[I] feel good. Keep going, keep fighting. We have a chance to make history."

  • Three takeaways from Raptors' Game 4 win over Bucks Three takeaways from Raptors' Game 4 win over Bucks

    The Toronto Raptors are putting together a quality run in the NBA playoffs.

    Toronto's 120-102 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday tied the Eastern Conference Finals at 2-2.

    Here are three takeaways from the Raptors' second consecutive win.

     

    Toronto are learning not to rely on Kawhi Leonard

    Leonard suffered an apparent leg injury in the Raptors' Game 3 victory and he lacked aggression in Game 4.

    The Raptors star scored 19 points on six-of-13 shooting. Before Tuesday, he had not attempted fewer than 18 shots in the series against the Bucks. Leonard has only attempted fewer than 13 shots once in the postseason so far – against the Orlando Magic in the first round.

    However, Milwaukee continued to double team Leonard, and his decoy role helped Toronto's bench explode for 48 points. The Raptors role players cannot be afraid to shoot the ball down the stretch if they want to advance to the NBA Finals, so this could be a blessing in disguise.

    Kyle Lowry is in attack mode 

    Lowry needs to assert himself early and often for the Raptors, and he did just that.

    The point guard was the most important part of Toronto's offense, as he shot a perfect 10-of-10 from the free-throw line and recorded a team-high 25 points.

    When Lowry is scoring on all three levels and bringing his usual peskiness on the defensive end, he gives the Raptors their best chance to come out on top.

    Milwaukee need to convert free throws

    The Bucks lost by 18 points, and they left nine at the free-throw line.

    Milwaukee only attempted one fewer free throw than the opposition, but shot an underwhelming 65.4 per cent to Toronto's 88.9.

    Giannis Antetokounmpo missed four of his 10 attempts from the line, and he will likely shoot plenty more moving forward as the centerpiece of the Bucks' offense.

    Getting back in Fiserv Forum could help Milwaukee's struggles, though.

    Game 5 will take place in Milwaukee on Thursday.

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