MVP candidate and Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was named on the NBA All-Defensive First Team on Wednesday.

The selection, made by a global panel of 100 sports writers and broadcasters, was announced by the league, with Antetokounmpo joined by team-mate Eric Bledsoe.

Giannis had 193 points – including 94 First Team votes – while Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert received 196 points, the most of any player in the NBA.

Marcus Smart and Paul George, along with Bledsoe, completed the First Team.

Antetokounmpo, Gobert and George are all also finalists for the 2018-19 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

Jrue Holiday, Klay Thompson, Joel Embiid, Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard made the Second Team.

Oklahoma City Thunder's Paul George, Houston Rockets star James Harden and Milwaukee Bucks sensation Giannis Antetokounmpo are the finalists for the NBA's MVP award.

The league announced the trio of finalists on Friday, with the winner to be announced at the NBA Awards on June 24.

George averaged 28 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game for the Thunder. He also led the league in steals (2.21) and is a top contender for Defensive Player of the Year.

Oklahoma City lost 4-1 to the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference first round.

Reigning MVP Harden led the NBA in scoring, averaging 36.1 points per game, which was the highest mark since Michael Jordan averaged 37.1 points in the 1986-87 season.

Harden also trailed George in steals, finishing with a second-best mark of 2.03, as the Rockets advanced to the Conference semi-finals before going down to the Golden State Warriors in six games.

Antetokounmpo helped the Bucks to the best record in the NBA in 2018-19. Milwaukee finished the season at 60-22 and their Greek superstar averaged 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds on a staggering career-high 57.8 per cent shooting.

He led the Bucks in every major statistical category but blocks and is also a top pick for Defensive Player of the Year. He was one of the most physically imposing players the league has ever seen this season. 

The Bucks lead the second-seeded Toronto Raptors 1-0 in the Eastern Conference finals.

Oklahoma City superstars Russell Westbrook and Paul George underwent offseason surgery, the Thunder announced on Tuesday.

Westbrook had a torn ligament in his finger repaired and also had an "elective" procedure done on his right knee.

George, meanwhile, underwent rotator cuff surgery.

The Thunder had an early exit from this year's NBA playoffs. The number six seed fell to the Portland Trail Blazers in five games in the first round and they have not won a playoff series in the past three seasons.

Westbrook and George are the Thunder's centerpieces, and their health will likely be crucial to the team's success moving forward.

George's four-year, $137million deal has a player option in 2021-2022. Should he decide to stay with Oklahoma City, he will become an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

Westbrook's five-year, $205m contract is good through the 2022-2023 season.

Russell Westbrook is not worried about the critics following the Oklahoma City Thunder's elimination from the NBA playoffs.

Westbrook struggled in the Thunder's Western Conference opening-round series defeat against the Portland Trail Blazers, who sealed a 4-1 victory.

The Thunder star shot just 36 per cent from the field and 32.4 per cent from three-point range as Oklahoma City were eliminated in five games.

Westbrook discussed his performance when he met with reporters on Thursday.

"There used to be conversations if I was a ball hog, but now I lead the league in assists for the past three years or whatever it is, that's getting squashed out," Westbrook said.

"So now the conversation is about shooting. Next year I'm going to become a better shooter.

"I don't really care what people say, what they think about me, because it doesn't really matter. I know what I'm able to do and know what I'm able to do at a high level every night, and nobody else can do what I can do on a night-in, night-out basis, and I truly believe that. If they could, I'm pretty sure they would. But I know for a fact that nobody can."

The eight-time All-Star has averaged a triple-double in each of the last three seasons. But, his Thunder teams have failed to win a playoff series during that time span.

"When you do so much at a high level, a lot of haters come," Westbrook said. "That's how life is, man. That's life, man. When you do so much, people [are] going to try to pull and take away and try to take that away from you. But nobody can take away from me. I've been blessed, and I stay prayerful, stay thankful to be able to do what I'm able to do, and nobody can ever take that away from me."

Fellow Thunder star Paul George praised Westbrook. The former was traded from the Indiana Pacers to the Thunder in July 2017 before re-signing with the team last offseason.

"I had a choice and a decision to go anywhere I wanted to in my career, and I chose to come back here," George said. "I mean, come on, that says a lot on its own, what kind of person Russ is.

"He's 100 per cent. He's as pure as a person that you can find. If you're watching him from afar, you might mistake that for him being a certain type of way. But honestly, man, he's one of the best human beings I've ever been a part of."

Westbrook tallied 22.9 points, 10.7 assists and 11.1 rebounds in 36 minutes per game in 2018-19.

Steve Kerr weighed in on Damian Lillard's game-winning shot for the Portland Trail Blazers against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Warriors coach called Lillard's heave a "good shot", ahead of Golden State's matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Lillard hit an incredible buzzer-beating three to see the Trail Blazers edge the Thunder 118-115 and seal a 4-1 series win on Tuesday.

"It's a good shot for Damian. It's a good shot for Steph [Curry]," Kerr said.

"The game is being redefined I think, as we play it. The stuff I've seen this last year I didn't think I'd ever see.

"People playing on the other side of James Harden and asking him to go to the rim. I've never seen that. The three-point line and the range that players are showing with their three-point shooting – it's changing the way that defenses have to think."

Thunder forward Paul George, who guarded Lillard in the closing seconds of his team's loss, called the dagger a "bad shot" during the post-game news conference.

Kerr actually agreed to some extent.

"I saw that quote from Paul. My first thought was 'you're right.' The step back 38-footer has never been a good shot," Kerr continued.

"But it was for Damian and there are a handful of guys who you actually have to guard on it."

The Warriors enter Wednesday up 3-1 in their first-round series against the Clippers with a chance to close things out at Oracle Arena.

Should they advance, they will face the winner of the Houston Rockets-Utah Jazz series in the second round.

Damian Lillard took satisfaction in sending the Oklahoma City Thunder out of the NBA playoffs after seeing his celebration mocked earlier in their first-round series.

The Portland Trail Blazers advanced to the conference semi-finals in spectacular fashion on Tuesday, Lillard's 37-foot buzzer-beater securing a 118-115 victory and a 4-1 triumph overall.

Having gone 2-0 up in the series, the Trail Blazers were defeated in Game 3 – a contest that saw the Thunder's Dennis Schroder imitate Lillard's 'Dame Time' celebration by tapping his wrist.

And those actions did not sit well with Lillard, who marked his remarkable game and series winner by waving to the Thunder bench before being mobbed by his team-mates.

"The game, the series was over, that was it. I was just waving goodbye to them," said Lillard, who became the first player in NBA playoffs history to score 50 points as well as a game-winning buzzer-beater.

"After Game 3, Dennis Schroder was out here pointing to his wrist, they were out there doing all these celebrations, doing all this stuff and we kept our composure.

"After one win that was what they decided to do, and we were just like, 'Okay, what we want to do is win four games' and then when we win those four games there's not gonna be nothing to talk about so that's what that was."

On his winning basket, shot over Paul George, Lillard said: "I was standing there looking at the rim and I was like, 'This is a comfortable range'.

"My trainer Phil Beckner, we were working out the other night in OKC and he was like, 'Take a few deep ones'. He was like, 'You're gonna hit one of these' and when I was standing there I was like, 'I'm gonna shoot it'.

"He was a little bit off of me and I was like, 'It's enough space for me to raise up and shoot it for the game'. At the last second, he stepped towards me a little bit and I was like, 'Okay, I'm gonna pound dribble, side step, raise up'.

"I just had to let it fly, shoot the ball high in the air to give it a chance and that's what I did."

The Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers set up an Eastern Conference semi-final showdown, while the Denver Nuggets moved ahead of the San Antonio Spurs.

Kawhi Leonard posted 27 points as the Raptors topped the Orlando Magic 115-96 in Game 5 on Tuesday.

The Raptors sealed a 4-1 series victory, with the 76ers next up in the second round in the east.

Philadelphia blew away the Brooklyn Nets 122-100 after a dominant first quarter at home.

The 76ers led 14-0 to start Game 5 and never looked back – Joel Embiid scoring 23 points and 13 rebounds in just 20 minutes of action to secure a 4-1 triumph.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets lead the Spurs 3-2 following Tuesday's 108-90 victory against San Antonio.

Denver became the first team in the Western Conference series to win two straight games and did so in a dominant fashion.

Jamal Murray finished with a game-high 23 points on nine-of-16 shooting, while LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan both contributed 17 points for Spurs.

 

Lillard eliminates Thunder

Portland Trail Blazers star Lillard scored a franchise-record 34 first-half points and finished with 50 to secure a dramatic 118-115 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder and a 4-1 series success. Lillard made a ridiculous buzzer-beating three-pointer over Paul George for the victory.

George scored 36 points and helped pull the Thunder back from a 12-point deficit, but the Trail Blazers' made all the right plays down the stretch to reclaim the lead.

Pascal Siakam totalled 24 points in Toronto's win.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson tallied 21 points for the beaten Nets.

Nikola Jokic had a quality night all around, racking up 16 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for the Nuggets.

 

No magic for Isaac or Orlando

Jonathan Isaac scored three points on one-of-seven shooting in the Magic's loss.

D'Angelo Russell had eight points on three-of-16 shooting for the Nets.

 

Simmons shows no mercy

Ben Simmons ended Philadelphia's first quarter with a slam at the rim.

Marc Gasol with the big block of D.J. Augustin's floater, which helped the Raptors get out on the break.

 

Jazz at Rockets

The Houston Rockets missed an opportunity to sweep the Utah Jazz on Monday. But now, they will get a chance to finish things off at the Toyota Center. Should the Rockets and Golden State Warriors win on Wednesday, the much-anticipated matchup between the two could get underway soon.

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard nailed a buzzer-beating three to eliminate the Oklahoma City Thunder from the NBA playoffs.

With Portland and Oklahoma City tied 115-115 in the final seconds of the Game-5 clash, Lillard hit a last-gasp three to send the Thunder packing on Tuesday.

Lillard ran down the clock, took a small dribble forward and knocked down a long three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Trail Blazers a dramatic 118-115 win.

The game-winning shot gave the Trail Blazers a 4-1 series win over Oklahoma City in the Western Conference first round.

Lillard was fantastic for Portland all game long. He finished with 50 points on 17-of-33 shooting. He also knocked down 10 of his 18 three-point attempts and added six assists, seven rebounds as well as three steals.

The Thunder appeared to have taken control with a little less than eight minutes to play when Dennis Schroder connected on a three-pointer to put his team ahead 105-90.

But, Portland responded with a 23-8 run and tied the score with 57.1 seconds remaining. Paul George gave the Thunder a two-point advantage on the next possession before Lillard answered with a jumper of his own.

Russell Westbrook followed by missing a go-ahead layup, setting up Lillard's game winner.

George scored 36 points for Oklahoma City in the losing effort while Westbrook tallied a triple-double with 29 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds.

Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum insists his team-mates will retain their unwavering focus after moving to the brink of the Western Conference semi-finals. 

McCollum scored 27 on 10-of-20 shooting as the Blazers opened up a 3-1 series lead over Oklahoma City Thunder with an 111-98 win in Game 4. 

Another win in Portland on Tuesday would see the Blazers advance and McCollum is ready to stay above the fray when it comes to trash talk. 

"I think we're a lot more mature than we were in past years," McCollum told reporters. "We can handle adversity and understand what we want to accomplish. 

"We didn't want anything to get in the way, we didn't want anything to interfere with that. Multiple times we had discussions about not saying anything to anyone.  

"If they're not wearing a black or grey jersey, don't talk to them. Don't talk to the refs, don't talk to the other team and let's get out of here with a win 

"That was our mindset. Having been through what we've been through historically we understand what we need to do, who we need to talk to and how we need to execute."

The Blazers were beaten 4-0 in the first round against the New Orleans Pelicans last year, having suffered the same fate against the Golden State Warriors in 2017 – setbacks that act as enduring motivation for McCollum. 

"We got swept last year. It was really embarrassing, and everybody talked about it," he said. 

"It was on TV every day. They talked about us getting swept, they talked about me getting traded, talked about how we can't win together. 

"We remember, and we know that feeling of going home early." 

Barring a stunning turnaround, it will be the Thunder and Russell Westbrook heading home early. 

Star point guard Westbrook finished the game by missing 10 straight shots and relied heavily on his jump shot throughout, taking only three shots in the paint and missing each one. 

"I get deep paint any time I want, but I always make the right play," Westbrook said, as quoted by ESPN.  

"So, when I'm in deep paint I find guys on the perimeter. My job is to make sure guys get the basketball.  

"I don't need to shoot a layup every single time. But I'm in the paint all game, and that's how it goes sometimes.  

"Shot attempts is not the only thing that I can do to make sure I'm in it for the defence and kick it out to make open shots."

Two-time reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers are poised to advance to the Western Conference semi-finals.

Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson combined for 65 points, leading Golden State to a 113-105 victory and a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Stephen Curry struggled shooting the basketball and finished three of 14 from the field, while rookie guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander posted a team-high 25 points for Los Angeles.

Also in the west, the Trail Blazers hold a 3-1 advantage against the Oklahoma City Thunder following Sunday's 111-98 win.

After losing Game 3, Portland moved a step closer to the second round of the playoffs thanks to CJ McCollum's 27 points.

On the other side, Paul George posted a game-high 32 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder, who are fighting to stay alive in the postseason.

The Toronto Raptors are also a win away from the Eastern Conference semi-finals courtesy of their 107-85 triumph against the Orlando Magic.

Toronto – who were stunned in Game 1 – extended their winning streak to three as Kawhi Leonard starred with a game-high 34 points.

 

Haywards leads Celtics sweep

Gordon Hayward posted a team-high 20 points as the Boston Celtics swept the Indiana Pacers 4-0 thanks to their 110-106 victory. Marcus Morris added 18 points on seven-of-11 shooting.

Al-Farouq Aminu totalled 19 points and nine rebounds for Portland.

 

Matthews struggles as Pacers bow out

Wesley Matthews scored three points on one-of-seven shooting in Indiana's loss.

Lou Williams posted 12 points on two-of-10 shooting for the Clippers.

Terrence Ross had five points in 31 minutes as the Magic lost.

Russell Westbrook scored 14 points, but it was on five-of-21 shooting.

 

Irving picks a pocket

Kyrie Irving's steal was turned into a behind-the-back pass, which was finished on the other end by Celtics team-mate Jayson Tatum.

George kept the Thunder in the hunt with a buzzer-beater from behind the arc to end the third quarter.

 

Rockets at Jazz

The Houston Rockets came out on top in Game 3 despite James Harden's horrendous shooting performance. The Utah Jazz found a way to bother the league's leading scorer for a majority of the game, but failed to capitalise on their opportunities to pull ahead. The Jazz lost a one-possession game, so minor adjustments could help them turn things around. Harden likely will not play as bad a second time, though.

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard insisted he is "real cool" with Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook, despite their clashes in the NBA playoffs.

Lillard and Westbrook have been at each other's throats in the Western Conference first-round series, which the Trail Blazers lead 2-1.

However, Lillard played down the ongoing feud with 2017 MVP Westbrook.

"The funny thing is, off the court, me and Russ is real cool," Lillard told The Oregonian on Saturday.

"I see Russ, he asks about the family, 'How is the family doing?' and all that. We actually cool.

"So, it's funny when they try to say me and Russ hate each other and all this stuff. It's not really like that. But it's something about when you get on the court, I guess."

The two guards are both gritty California natives and grew up just six hours away from each other.

They have had a few heated exchanges and showy celebrations through three games, and neither one seems to plan on backing down.

"He from the neighbourhood. I'm from the neighbourhood. Ain't going to be no getting talked to crazy, getting bullied. It's not gonna to work. It's just not gonna to happen," Lillard said.

Lillard has been phenomenal in the postseason this term, averaging 30.3 points and only trailing James Harden's average of 30.5.

His hot start alongside the help of his backcourt running mate CJ McCollum helped Portland out to a 2-0 lead over Oklahoma City.

Westbrook and the Thunder have battled shooting woes, but he exploded for 33 points and 11 rebounds to cut his team's deficit in Game 3.

"I haven't won a championship," Lillard said. "I haven't been an MVP. There are still things out there that I'm after. Obviously, if I don't get it last year, there are things I need to improve on. If I don't get it this year, there are things I need to improve on."

Game 4 will take place at Chesapeake Bay Arena in Oklahoma City on Sunday.

Paul George called Russell Westbrook "a man of his word" after leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a tetchy Game 3 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Westbrook stated his display in a Game 2 loss in Portland was "unacceptable" and stepped up brilliantly on Friday, contributing 33 points and 11 assists as the Thunder took their first victory of the series.

The Blazers threatened to move towards a 3-0 lead with a brilliant third quarter that saw Damian Lillard drop 25 of his 32 points, but the point guard was shut down in the final period as Oklahoma City completed a 120-108 win in a fiery encounter.

George said of Westbrook: "He's a man of his word. He came out, he led, we got behind him and he put us on his back."

Westbrook did his 'rock the baby' celebration after scoring an and-one jump shot over Lillard in the third quarter and the two continued to engage in verbal sparring as OKC closed in on victory.

George was also involved in the back and forth and he threw down a dunk after time expired that did not impress Lillard.

He said: "It's the playoffs, people do things that maybe they're trying to get under somebody's skin, or maybe trying to make a statement.

"It doesn't matter. The game was over; the game was decided. Typically, people say you don't do stuff like that, but honestly I really couldn't care less.

"The game had been decided and if that's something they needed to do to make themselves feel more dominant or feel better, then so be it."

When asked about the dunk, George reiterated Westbrook's last answer in a tense news conference by saying: "Next question."

Dennis Schroder taunted Lillard with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter by copying his 'Dame Time' celebration.

"I did see it. I thought it was kind of funny that he waited so late in the game, when he knew the game was decided, to do it," said Lillard.

"And he also hadn't done that in the first two games. So I thought that was interesting."

The Toronto Raptors took control of their first-round NBA playoff series against the Magic by claiming a 98-93 victory in Orlando on Friday.

Both teams were careless with the ball, but the Magic evaporated Toronto's lead down the stretch and were within three in the closing seconds.

It was a clutch rebound by Kyle Lowry that saved the day for the Raptors in the end.

The real star was Pascal Siakam though. Siakam totalled a game-high 30 points to go with 11 rebounds in a contest where Kawhi Leonard was five-of-19 shooting. He showcased a versatile game that made it evident he is one of the league's most promising rising stars.

Terrence Ross paced Orlando with 24 points on five made three-pointers.

The Magic shocked everyone with their game one win, but now trail 2-1.

The Boston Celtics appear to have figured a few things out.

While Boston struggled to find chemistry at times during the regular season, they secured a 3-0 lead over Indiana with a 104-96 victory over the Pacers on Friday.

Jaylen Brown seemingly could not miss in game three, posting a game-high 23 points on eight-of-nine shooting.

Seven Pacers reached double-digits in points. They were led by Tyreke Evans' 19 points, but the game remained out of reach for most of the contest.

The Celtics have a chance to complete a first-round sweep against a feisty Indiana team on Sunday to kick off a strong start to the postseason.

Oklahoma City worked their way back into their series against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Thunder beat the Trail Blazers 120-108 and overcame the offensive onslaught of Damian Lillard, who scored 25 points in the third quarter alone.

After a game two loss, Russell Westbrook said he needed to play better, and he did just that on Friday. The star point guard finished with 33 points, 11 rebounds and five assists and battled through plenty of contact.

Lillard finished with 32 points.

If the Thunder can defend home court in game four, they can make the series – which Portland lead 2-1 – interesting again.

 

Vucevic magic not enough

Nikola Vucevic posted 22 points and 14 rebounds in the Magic's loss.

Kyrie Irving totalled 19 points and 10 assists in Boston's win.

 

Fournier fails

Evan Fournier scored seven points on one-of-12 shooting in Orlando's loss.

Paul George scored 22 points, but it was on just three-of-16 shooting.

 

Thunder blitz

The Thunder's fast break ball movement turned into an alley-oop slam.

Nuggets at Spurs

Denver took the fight to San Antonio in game three, but did not come out on top. Derrick White has proved to be a difference-maker for the Spurs. The Nuggets' backcourt has plenty of room for improvement though.

Russell Westbrook remains confident the Oklahoma City Thunder can progress to the Western Conference semi-finals despite falling 2-0 behind to the Portland Trail Blazers. 

After losing Game 1 by five points, the Thunder were beaten 114-94 on Tuesday as Portland started the first-round series with back-to-back home wins. 

Eight-time NBA All-Star Westbrook is not concerned, though, particularly with Oklahoma hosting the next two matches later this week. 

"They won their first two home games. We obviously wanted to try to steal one when we can but the message is just stay with it," said the point guard. 

"[We have] a lot of great guys on this basketball team that I trust in to make shots and make plays on both sides of the basketball.  

"We'll be alright." 

For Thunder coach Billy Donovan a poor third quarter from his side was key to their defeat at Moda Center – the Blazers having outscored Oklahoma 37-21. 

"Our defence laboured and obviously [Portland] putting the ball on the floor and attacking us [hurt us]," said Donovan. 

"After the third quarter, we were playing uphill to get back into the game and I thought the difference in the game was that third quarter. 

"I felt like we didn't move the ball as well as we needed to in the third quarter in terms of generating penetration, finding the open man and moving it when they were bringing help." 

The Portland Trail Blazers may have taken a 2-0 series lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder but Damian Lillard knows they have to perform on the road if they want to progress in the playoffs. 

A 114-94 victory at Moda Center backed up the opening game win for the Trail Blazers, with Lillard contributing 29 points, four rebounds and six assists. 

Only CJ McCollum returned better stats for Portland as the West Conference's third seeds gained the momentum in their first-round tie. 

However, Lillard called for caution given they have not made it through to the conference semi-finals since 2016. 

"I've had experience of being 2-0 before," he told reporters. "I'm happy about it but I really don't care.  

"I know how quickly things can change. I know that a series doesn't start until you win a game on the road. And I also know how capable their team is. 

"We've just got to maintain our focus, stay sharp and understand that how we've played in the first game and second game is not going to be good enough in the third game, especially on their home floor. 

"We've just got to keep our heads down and keep working." 

Portland are now five games unbeaten after finishing the regular season on a high, and Lillard credited the work done in training for their impressive run. 

"It's the preparation," he added. "When you're in the right place and doing the right things that you prepare for, a lot of times the ball ends up in your hands. 

"We've been really sharp in our preparation and in going out there and executing it.  

"We've been sharp and a lot of things have come for us in a positive way because of that." 

 

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