TJ Warren overshadowed LeBron James' return as the Los Angeles Lakers slumped to a third successive NBA loss, while Luka Doncic dazzled on Saturday.

Back after a groin injury, Lakers star James had 31 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in 35 minutes but could not stop the Indiana Pacers and their thriving small forward from claiming a 116-111 victory.

Warren, a revelation since entering the NBA bubble, continued his incredible scoring run with 39 points on 15-of-22 shooting.

In the final minute, he hit a floater, a pull-up jumper and a clutch three-pointer over Anthony Davis to earn the Pacers a fourth win from five games at Walt Disney World Resort.

All-Star guard Doncic and reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo did not disappoint in their duel, sharing 70 points between them as the Dallas Mavericks outlasted the Milwaukee Bucks 136-132 in overtime.

Doncic did the business for Dallas, delivering a decisive triple-double with 36 points, 19 assists and 14 rebounds.

 

Pain for Mitchell, better for Booker

Donovan Mitchell's nerveless 35-point performance was not enough to help the Utah Jazz avoid a 134-132 defeat to the Denver Nuggets in double overtime, a thrilling game that included 30 points and 11 rebounds from Nikola Jokic.

Devin Booker's 35 points proved more valuable for the Phoenix Suns, who beat the Miami Heat 119-112 to stay undefeated since the restart.

 

Lillard's let down

After trading taunts with the Los Angeles Clippers, Damian Lillard let his opponents have the last laugh when he wasted two clutch free throws and missed a three-point attempt late in the Portland Trail Blazers' 122-117 loss.

 

Doncic's delicious dime

The Mavericks' main man went between the legs for one of his 19 assists.

Saturday's results

Los Angeles Clippers 122-117 Portland Trail Blazers
Denver Nuggets 134-132 Utah Jazz (2OT)
Indiana Pacers 116-111 Los Angeles Lakers
Phoenix Suns 119-112 Miami Heat
Dallas Mavericks 136-132 Milwaukee Bucks (OT)

 

Trail Blazers face 76ers

Lillard and the Trail Blazers (32-39), ranked ninth in the Western Conference, know they cannot afford any errors when they face the Philadelphia 76ers (42-27) on Sunday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo said the Milwaukee Bucks are their own biggest threat to reaching the NBA Finals after clinching the Eastern Conference top seed.

The Bucks overturned a 23-point deficit to overcome the Miami Heat 130-116 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, where Antetokounmpo put up 33 points and 12 rebounds on Thursday.

Milwaukee had lost back-to-back games and were staring at another defeat before rallying past Eastern Conference rivals the Heat – outscoring Miami 74-43 in the second half.

Asked about the Bucks' biggest threat in the east as they eye their first Finals appearance since 1974 and first championship since 1971, reigning MVP Antetokounmpo said: "I think the biggest challenge for us is ourselves.

"How are we going to play? How hard are we going to play? Are we going to play for one another? Are we going to defend hard? Are we going to be able to rebound the ball? Are we going to be able to make the extra effort? Are we going to dive on the floor?

"It's all about us. It's all about us."

The Bucks improved to 55-14 for the season, ahead of defending champions the Toronto Raptors (49-18), Boston Celtics (45-23), Heat (43-26), Indiana Pacers (42-27) and Philadelphia 76ers (41-27) in the east.

With the top seed comes home-court advantage, though that will look different inside the Orlando bubble amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"Well, I don't think you'd ever guess to be coaching in an NBA game on August 6," Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said.

"So, pretty unique and rare times to win a game and more importantly to have the best record in the Eastern Conference is a tribute to our players and what they've done every night and how they've brought it. I'm very proud of them."

Marcus Smart accused officials of giving Giannis Antetokounmpo preferential treatment in the Boston Celtics' loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to a 119-112 victory in the NBA on Friday, scoring 36 points to go with 15 rebounds.

But there was late controversy, the reigning NBA MVP almost fouling out, only for a charge call to be overturned to a blocking foul against Smart.

Smart believes officials simply did not want to see Antetokounmpo foul out.

"The excuse was I was late on the charge, they said the replay centre said I was late and it was a block," Celtics guard Smart told a news conference.

"But quite frankly I think we all know what that was about, Giannis' sixth foul, didn't want to get him out.

"We'll just call that spade a spade and that's just what it is."

Antetokounmpo was keen to move on from the incident, having exchanged words with Smart during the game.

"I know that he's going to try to attack all the time and try to get me out of my game," the Bucks star said.

"And I respect that he's doing that because he's trying to get me out of my game. I understand it.

"When I sit down and I calm down, I understand what he's trying to do. I don't think he’s a bad person. At the end of the day, that's his opinion.

"I feel like he was moving in the last play, but either way, if it was a charge, if was not a charge, I'm happy that we got the win."

The NBA finally returns on Thursday and it's been a long-time coming.

Not since March 11 have players taken to the court and fans watched official games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But, after months of waiting, the New Orleans Pelicans-Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers-Los Angeles Clippers clashes will headline the 2019-20 season restart in Orlando, Florida.

Inside the Walt Disney World Resort bubble, 22 teams will resume their regular seasons before the playoffs.

The Milwaukee Bucks topped the NBA standings at the time of the postponement, while the Los Angeles Lakers were flying in the Western Conference.

Using STATS data, we look at the best-performing players prior to the hiatus as LeBron James eyes a fourth championship ring and Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo chases a maiden title.

 

Red-hot LeBron

After a tough first season in Los Angeles, James has returned to his brilliant best in 2019-20. Before the coronavirus-enforced break, the four-time MVP catapulted himself into the mix for a fifth Most Valuable Player honour by leading the Lakers – who have played 63 of their 82-game regular season – to a Western Conference-best 49-14 record.

As the 35-year-old superstar prepares to resume his bid for another NBA crown, James leads the league in assists per game with 10.6. If he maintains his pace, James would be the third-oldest player to lead the NBA in assists per game behind two-time MVP and Phoenix Suns great Steve Nash – who did so in both 2009-10 (age 35-36) and 2010-11 (age 36-37). The former Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers forward has also been averaging 25.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game this season.

James, whose maiden campaign at Staples Center was cut short by a Christmas Day injury almost two years ago, was playing some of his best basketball alongside All-Star recruit Anthony Davis before the March suspension. In five games that month, James averaged 30.0 points and 10.6 assists per game, while shooting 55.7 per cent from the field. It is the only time in the last 30 years that any NBA player has averaged 30.0-plus points and 10.0-plus assists on 55.0-plus per cent shooting in a calendar month (minimum five games played).

 

Giannis – The Greek Freak

The Eastern Conference-leading Bucks (53-12) are on track for their first NBA title since 1971 thanks to superstar MVP Antetokounmpo after Mike Budenholzer's side lost in the Conference Finals last season.

Antetokounmpo – expected to go close to winning back-to-back MVPs – has not taken a backward step since being crowned the league's best in 2018-19, averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game for the high-flying Bucks this season.

The only players to average 25/13/5 in a season are Elgin Baylor (1960-61), Wilt Chamberlain (1963-64 and 1965-66) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1972-73 and 1975-76).

 

Harden firing Rockets

James Harden's standing among the greats is often debated but there is no doubting his quality and importance to the Houston Rockets.

Harden has established himself as a scoring machine in Houston since joining the Rockets from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012, especially from beyond the arc, and after averaging 36.1 points last season, the 2018 MVP is at it again.

In 2019-20, Harden – now partnered with fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook – is averaging 34.4 per game. The only players to average 34-plus points in back-to-back seasons are Wilt Chamberlain (six straight from 1959-60 to 1964-65), Baylor (three straight from 1960-61 to 1962-63) and Michael Jordan (1986-87 to 1987-88).

The Rockets – sixth in the west with a 40-24 record – are relying heavily on Harden to lead the two-time champions to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1995.

 

Dallas' dazzling Doncic

If you thought Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic was a one-season wonder, think again.

The reigning Rookie of the Year continues to take the NBA by storm, elevating the Mavericks (40-27) into a legitimate playoff threat after Dallas missed the postseason for a third consecutive year last term.

A first-time All-Star this season, Doncic is averaging 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game for the much-improved Mavs in 2019-20.

The 21-year-old Slovenian sensation – who is forming a formidable combination with fellow international star Kristaps Porzingis – is looking to join Oscar Robertson (five times), Jordan (1988-89), Harden (2016-17) and Westbrook (2016-17) as the only players to average 28/8/8 in a season.

 

Williamson following in MJ's footsteps

When it comes to number one draft pick Zion Williamson, believe the hype.

The Pelicans rookie has not missed a beat since debuting in January, quickly making his presence known around the NBA competition.

Likened to James during his college days with Duke, Williamson has averaged 23.6 points per game in his first 19 games – the most by any player through 19 career games since Chicago Bulls and NBA legend Jordan (25.6).

Williamson has helped fill the void left by Davis in New Orleans and the Pelicans – 10th in the Western Conference with a 28-36 record – will be hoping the 20-year-old can lead the organisation to just their second playoff appearance in five seasons.

 

Keep an eye on Nets' LeVert

The Nets will be far from full strength in the NBA bubble. Superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are both sidelined through injury, while DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie, Wilson Chandler and Taurean Prince have opted out.

Step up Caris LeVert.

LeVert has been much improved since re-joining the starting line-up with the playoff-chasing Nets. In his first 14 games off the bench, he was only averaging 11.1 points, 2.7 assists and 2.6 rebounds as Brooklyn went 5-9.

Since returning to the starting five, the 25-year-old is averaging 24.1 points, 5.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds through his last 16 games. More importantly, the Nets (30-34) boasted a 9-7 record to be seventh in a congested Eastern Conference.

LeBron James' remarkable consistency and the way he has silenced his detractors are the main arguments why he should be the NBA's MVP, says Los Angeles Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis.

It was decided the 2019-20 award would be decided on performances prior to the league's suspension in March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Superstar James, reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and others in the conversation will consequently not have the opportunity to enhance their claims when the season resumes at the NBA's bubble at Walt Disney Resort.

Prior to the NBA being halted, 35-year-old James was averaging 25.7 points, 10.6 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game.

Davis has had a close-up view of playing with James and thinks his team-mate has strong claims for the prize. 

"The thing's he's doing at his age [make it a good argument]," Davis told reporters of James, who is a four-time MVP. 

"He's playing probably one of his best years, we're the top team in the west, the things he's able to do on the floor, especially when everyone says he's washed and should hang it up and all these things he came back with a dominant performance.

"Then just to be in the race at his age, this part of his career, for me to see it every night, and on a consistent basis, not just three or four games here, he does it every night, he's been doing it all his career, it's a good argument for him to be MVP."

Davis is in also in the race for individual honours, with the 27-year-old among the favourites for the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Asked to assess his own chances, he said: "I don't have a case. 

"I let my team-mates decide and the fans decide, but I just go out there and play hard every night. 

"My biggest impact that I think I have is defensively. I love playing defense, I love stopping other players, making it tough on other players, so that's my case in a nutshell.

"But I'm pretty sure coach has some good things, and I'm pretty sure if you guys ask LeBron he'll have a whole list for you guys. 

"I just go out there and try to be great and lead my team on the defensive end, and the guys get better each and every night."

Giannis Antetokounmpo insists his main focus is on improving his game and lifting the NBA title with Milwaukee Bucks, rather than winning more individual honours.

The 25-year-old was named the league's Most Valuable Player last season, becoming the first Bucks player to win the accolade since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1974.

And he looks poised to make it back-to-back MVP triumphs thanks to some incredible displays before the campaign was suspended by the coronavirus pandemic in March.

The voting for the MVP and other individual regular-season awards is over ahead of the July 30 restart, with "seeding games" not being included to ensure a fair process.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James made his claim for a fifth Maurice Podoloff Trophy by declaring he knows what he is capable of, but biggest challenger Antetokounmpo is not focused on the award.

"I know there's going to be a lot talk about the MVP award. That's not my main focus," he told a news conference on Tuesday when asked about James' comments.

"I've got to get better, win games, help my team play good basketball, try to win the big trophy - the last time we did that was 1971."

Antetokounmpo was averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game when the NBA was suspended amid the COVID-19 crisis.

And the reigning MVP admits he has been working on his game during the lockdown, having previously stunned fans by claiming he did not own a basketball hoop at his home.

"Anybody out there that thought I didn't have access to a gym, they don't really know me," he said. "I just said that trying to get a little ahead of the competition."

The Bucks are in action against San Antonio Spurs on Thursday - their first action in four months - and Antetokounmpo is in line to feature after recovering from a knee injury.

"What I want to do is basically just try to get in shape and get in basketball shape," he said. "It doesn't matter how long I play. 

"If I play 10 minutes, 15 minutes, the whole game, I'm just gonna go as hard as I can because eventually when the season starts again and the play-offs start, that's what I got to do. 

"So you know, as long as I'm on the court, I'm just going to go as hard as I can."

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said Giannis Antetokounmpo deserves to win back-to-back NBA MVP awards.

The voting for the MVP and other individual regular-season awards are now reportedly over as the NBA season prepares to restart on July 30 after the league was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bucks star Antetokounmpo was crowned the league's Most Valuable Player last season, dethroning Houston Rockets guard James Harden.

Budenholzer believes Antetokounmpo should win consecutive honours as the NBA-leading Bucks (53-12) eye their first championship since 1971 via a 22-team bubble at Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida.

"I had no idea that that was the case, but it makes sense. I think it was 64, 65, 66 games for different teams so that's certainly a significant body of work and more importantly, certainly, Giannis in our minds has done more than enough to deserve a back-to-back MVP," Budenholzer said on Friday, when told none of the seeding games will be taken into consideration for awards.

"What he does for us on both ends of the court, what he does every night, the way he sets the bar for us, culture-wise, work ethic-wise, just as a team-mate.

"He's an incredible team-mate, plays unselfishly, does everything. And I think that's kind of what the MVP is so we certainly feel like he's very deserving and we'll be excited to support him."

Antetokounmpo was averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game when the NBA was suspended amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The Bucks will restart their campaign against Eastern Conference rivals the Boston Celtics on July 31.

Giannis Antetokounmpo believes any stars unhappy with their living conditions in the NBA bubble could do with a dose of perspective.

A number of players have shared social media posts of their functional quarters in Orlando as the league prepares for its restart at the end of this month.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Antetokounmpo believes the situation represents no imposition, considering his experiences of poverty in his native Greece as a youngster.

"I'm in a situation where I'm extremely blessed and I cannot complain," he told reporters.

"Obviously, it doesn't matter where you are in life – there's always something to complain [about], there's always a problem and an issue.

"But I try to kind of not focus on that. So, as I said, my apartment in Greece, when I was younger, with my four brothers, was way smaller than the suite that I have in the hotel, so I'm just trying to enjoy the moment."

Indeed, Antetokounmpo is excited by the return to competitive action at Walt Disney World, with the Bucks resuming against the Boston Celtics on July 31.

"This is something special," he said.

"Hopefully, this pandemic never happens again so we never are able to come back in the campus, but at the end of the day, this is part of history, so just being able to be here, participate in this, I'm just trying to be in the moment, trying to enjoy every moment, trying to enjoy basketball.

"I'm happy that we're back playing basketball, something that I love doing, so there's nothing really to complain about."

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo believes the 2020 NBA title will be the "toughest championship you could ever win" due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2019-20 NBA season is set to return via a 22-team format at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida on July 30 after the campaign was halted due to COVID-19 in March.

Eastern Conference leaders Milwaukee boasted a league-best 53-12 record prior to the postponement, ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference.

As teams prepare to be based in an Orlando bubble, reigning MVP Antetokounmpo insisted this season's championship should not come with an asterisk.

"I feel like a lot of people say that there's gonna be a star next to this championship," Antetokounmpo said.

"I feel like, at the end of the day, this is gonna be the toughest championship you could ever win – because the circumstances are really, really tough right now. So whoever wants it more is going to be able to go out there and take it."

Antetokounmpo added: "Everybody has concerns about their health. Nobody wants to put themselves in risk out there, but at the end of the day, that's what the NBA chose, and we're gonna resume the games, and we've all gotta do our job.

"And my job is to play basketball and go out there and support my team-mates and represent the city. But for sure, I think me, my team-mates, my family – especially my mum – everybody has concerns about our health, and my health."

The Bucks will return to action against the Boston Celtics on July 31 as Milwaukee eye their first championship since 1971.

"I feel like the champion from this experience, from this season, I think is going to be more worthy and probably more special than any [other] champion," Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said.

Antetokounmpo was averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game prior to the NBA's suspension.

"I want to be one of the best players to ever play the game," four-time All-Star Antetokounmpo said. "I did the best job I could do trying to stay ready and trying to have my team ready for this journey that we're about to go on to leave and play games.

"But as I said, whoever wants it more, whoever is mentally prepared for all this, what's going on in Orlando, that's the team that's gonna come out on top."

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo wants to smoke a cigar like Michael Jordan and celebrate a potential NBA championship in Mykonos.

The Bucks were favourites to win the NBA title before the season was suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Milwaukee owned the best record in the league at 53-12, ahead of LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers, in pursuit of their first title since 1971.

While COVID-19 has halted Milwaukee's quest, reigning MVP Antetokounmpo is hoping to take the NBA trophy to his native Greece and the party island of Mykonos – channelling Chicago Bulls great Jordan.

"Before all this happened with COVID-19, I was talking about taking the team on a trip to Greece in Mykonos," Antetokounmpo said via the Athletes Doing Good Radiothon on ESPN.

"Mykonos is one of the best islands in Greece, it's a party island. You cannot go there with your significant other, you got to be by yourself. It's got to be a boys' trip.

"Obviously, we have Santorini, Santorini's really romantic. It has the best sunset and sunrise in the world. You can take your significant other there.

"I had the opportunity to go last year – I went with [Eric] Bledsoe and Brook [Lopez] to Mykonos – and I was kind of sad I wasn't able to bring the whole team to experience what we went through.

"So definitely, I think, after we win the championship and we're holding the trophy and we're all smoking a cigar like M.J., we can all do that in Mykonos."

It remains to be seen when, and if, the 2019-20 season will resume following the coronavirus outbreak.

NBA practice facilities have started to re-open this month after the league had targeted no earlier than May 8 for teams to return to their complexes.

Commissioner Adam Silver is reportedly considering the league returning via two locations – Orlando and Las Vegas.

Giannis Antetokounmpo said a hacker was behind a string of racist and insulting posts on his Twitter account, leaving him "disappointed and disgusted".

A series of controversial tweets from the NBA MVP's official account targeted the Milwaukee Bucks and his team-mate Khris Middleton, as well as LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

Insensitive comments were also published about Kobe Bryant, who died alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash in California in January.

All of the incendiary posts have since been deleted.

In a statement published on Twitter, Antetokounmpo said: "Hey everybody! I'm back and would like to address the social media incident from earlier today! I was hacked and the situation is currently being investigated.

"The tweets and posts were extremely inappropriate and I am so disappointed and disgusted that somebody would say the terrible things that were said!

"I feel terrible that the Bucks, Khris, LeBron and the Curry family were included in the malicious and untrue tweets.

"I feel especially terrible for the Bryant family, during their time of grief they should not be subjected to this type of negativity and foul behaviour.

"Thank you all for always supporting my family and I, and please stay safe!"

A statement from the Bucks read: "Giannis Antetokounmpo's social media accounts were hacked this afternoon and have been taken down. An investigation is underway."

Antetokounmpo's brother Kostas, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, attempted to make followers aware the Bucks star was not behind the comments as they were published.

He later added: "Giannis' twitter, phone, email and bank accounts were hacked!

"He genuinely apologises for everything that was tweeted and he will be back as soon as possible!

"The things that were said by this hacker were extremely inappropriate and disgusting!"

After a gruelling 82-game regular season, April is usually an exciting time for NBA players and fans.

This time of year is typically headlined by playoff basketball, but the coronavirus pandemic has brought the NBA and sport to a standstill globally.

The NBA has been suspended since March 11 – halting the regular season and putting the playoffs on ice amid COVID-19 as the high-flying Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers vie for supremacy.

 

As the NBA waits for the threat of COVID-19 to subside, and for normal life to return, the Stats Perform AI team have been crunching the numbers behind the scenes.

Having simulated the rest of the regular season to produce projected final standings, the goal was to see how the postseason would pan out too.

The Stats Perform model takes proprietary data and creates an offensive and defensive rating for each team.

Those ratings are paired with the team's opponent and adjusts it for each team's pace. In addition, the home team gets a slight boost for home-court advantage.

The model uses this information to calculate a projected score for both teams. The winners receive a victory in the race for the Larry O'Brien Trophy – this was done for every game in the playoffs. So, here are the results…

 

BUCKS, LAKERS CRUISE INTO SECOND ROUND

Like last season, the Bucks earned the best regular-season record heading into the postseason. Milwaukee swept the Detroit Pistons in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2019 and the Bucks match that feat this year, albeit against the Orlando Magic. After one-point wins in the first two games, Milwaukee cruise into the Conference semi-finals – winning 112-106 and 113-93.

Back in the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13, Western Conference pacesetters the Lakers blitz the Memphis Grizzlies 4-0 – highlighted by a 118-89 blowout in Game 2. The Los Angeles Clippers faded at the end of the regular season as they dropped down into the fourth seed, but the Lakers' neighbours prove too good for the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-2.

James Harden and Russell Westbrook had one foot in the second round but the Houston Rockets – who ended the regular season on a 15-3 run to claim the third seed – lose four straight games to the Utah Jazz in the west. Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks – back in the playoffs following a three-season absence – win three games in a row to take down the second-seeded Denver Nuggets 4-2.

For the second time in three years, the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat meet in the east's first round and the latter prevail 4-2 as Jimmy Butler has the last laugh against his former team. The Boston Celtics also see off the Indiana Pacers by the same scoreline.

No Kawhi Leonard, no worries for defending champions the Toronto Raptors, who only drop one game in a comprehensive 4-1 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

LEBRON MATCHES EARLIEST PLAYOFF EXIT

Hopes were high for LeBron James but the Lakers are upstaged by cross-town rivals the Clippers in six games. The Lakers level the series at 2-2 but the Clippers reel off back-to-back victories in a matchup where the margin does not drop below 10 points. It equals the earliest exit of James' playoff career, having reached the Finals in each of his past eight trips to the postseason.

Staying in the Western Conference and the Mavericks advance to the Conference Finals for the first time since 2011 – when they won the title – by rallying past the Utah Jazz. After dropping the first two games, Dallas win four on the bounce. The Mavericks' run, however, ends at the hands of the Clippers just shy of the NBA Finals, edged 4-3.

The Bucks fell short of a trip to the big dance last season, but Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee get the job done this time around by topping the Heat and Raptors in the east. A 130-96 Game 1 rout sets the tone for the Bucks, who beat Miami inside six games.

The Raptors are no match for the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals, losing 4-1. Toronto's exit snaps a streak of four straight seasons in which the defending champions returned to the Finals the following year. The last team to win the title and then not reach the showpiece series the following season were the San Antonio Spurs, who claimed the championship in 2014.

 

CLIPPERS MAKE HISTORY BUT FALL TO BUCKS

It is a landmark moment for the Clippers, who feature in the NBA Finals for the first time in their history. In the four major US sports – NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL – the Clippers are the oldest franchise that have never progressed to the championship round, having played their first NBA game in 1970.

However, the Bucks spoil the party as they end the longest title drought in the NBA courtesy of a 4-2 triumph on the biggest stage. The Golden State Warriors held the record for the longest gap between championships – 40 years – but Milwaukee reign supreme for the first time since 1971, ending their 49-year wait.

Milwaukee and Los Angeles split the opening two games before the Bucks win two on the bounce to eventually claim a second NBA crown. Milwaukee's success also continues a common theme in the league, with five of the past eight champions having boasted the best regular-season record and won the title in the same year.

Sports stars were coming to terms on Sunday with another day of being sidelined amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Competitions including the Premier League, the NBA and Formula One were off as sport attempts to combat the spread of the virus.

There have been over 160,000 confirmed cases and more than 6,000 deaths worldwide.

Without work to keep them busy, athletes were finding other ways to entertain themselves - and often posting evidence online.

Tyson Fury would not have been in boxing action this weekend, as it is just weeks since his stunning world heavyweight title defeat of Deontay Wilder, but he was still impacted by coronavirus.

The Briton had been set to run the Liverpool Half Marathon but was advised not to, amid the crisis.

That did little to stop Fury, though, who continued with the run at home instead, dressed as Batman with strength and conditioning coach Kristian Blacklock as his sidekick Robin.

In the United States, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been vocal in bemoaning his boredom while the NBA is paused, but the world received evidence of how he has been using his time.

The Greek Freak's girlfriend uploaded a video of the reigning MVP playing Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water on guitar, and the Milwaukee Bucks ace replied: "If anyone wants a guitarist for their group, I'm free. Inbox me for booking."

Elsewhere, Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stayed active this weekend.

His popstar girlfriend Perrie Edwards - a member of Little Mix - posted a video of the pair dancing at home with the caption: "Precautionary self isolation can be fun!"

Football's most famous popstar WAG had also featured in a social media post on Saturday.

David Beckham had been anticipating Inter Miami's first home match against his former club LA Galaxy before the 2020 MLS season was suspended.

Beckham instead took his family to see his expansion club's stadium, though, and wife Victoria was enjoying herself as the tannoy blasted out Spice Girls songs.

Robert Lewandowski and Gabriel Jesus shared clips of their workouts, but Dries Mertens' was a little different.

The Napoli star was filmed lifting a giant wine bottle in his exercises, posting the video with the caption: "My greatest advice in life, 'A little bit of wine is the solution to a lot of problems'."

And Barcelona B midfielder Riqui Puig joined a campaign to keep people in their homes in Spain, skilfully juggling toilet roll in an apparent reference to the stockpiling prompted by the virus.

The coronavirus pandemic continued to wreak havoc on the sporting calendar on Saturday with more major events and competitions being disrupted.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 rapidly spreading across the globe, it has resulted in the postponement of competitions worldwide as governments attempt to combat the pandemic.

A small number of events still went ahead, but sports stars, teams and indeed supporters were otherwise left to find other means of entertainment.

With the number of confirmed cases worldwide now totalling over 155,000, we round up all the latest news and updates.

 

Germany's prestige friendly with Italy later this month became the latest football fixture to bite the dust, with the majority of upcoming international matches having now been wiped out.

More major organisations have halted all footballing activities until a later date, including Qatar, Morocco and Egypt.

A small number of competitions, most notably the A-League, Russian Premier League and Mexico's Liga MX, did manage to go ahead as planned.

Indeed, NRL games also avoided the cut, as did a handful of Super Rugby matches before an indefinite ban was put in place later in the day.

Another competition to fall was Australia's one-day international series against New Zealand, which was already being played behind closed doors.

With New Zealand's government introducing strict protocols to attempt to slow the spread of the virus, the Black Caps – along with Super Rugby side Highlanders – returned home from Australia and Argentina respectively in order to beat the new restrictions, which will mean any new arrival to the country, even if they are a citizen, has to self-isolate for 14 days.

With the top-four tiers of English football being shelved until at least early April, there was plenty of focus on the National League as six games were given the green light.

There was some controversy in Argentina as River Plate's Copa Superliga clash with Atletico Tucuman was suspended after the home side refused to open their stadium.

Independiente's tie with Velez Sarsfield was played out in full, albeit behind closed doors, with the hosts claiming a 1-0 victory.

In Italy, Napoli urged their supporters to sing from their balconies in unison as Fiorentina's Patrick Cutrone and two more Sampdoria players tested positive for COVID-19.

Manchester City's Benjamin Mendy revealed a negative test result after recently self-isolating, but Carlo Ancelotti and Angelo Ogbonna questioned the Premier League's handling of the outbreak, while Jordan Pickford denied reports he is self-isolating.

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady, meanwhile, claimed the competition should be "void" – a suggestion Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher quickly dismissed.

The lack of football did not stop certain clubs from keeping supporters entertained, though, with LaLiga side Leganes posting live updates of a fictitious match against Real Valladolid, which they won 2-1.

Perhaps inspired by their Spanish counterparts, Southampton got Manchester City involved in an online game of noughts and crosses to help fill the void.

The downtime also gave football stars a chance to recuperate, with Sergio Ramos and Alexis Sanchez among those to post images of their extra-curricular activities.

Others, such as Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and FIFA president Gianni Infantino, opted to use social media to educate their followers on how to properly wash their hands, while Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi used his profile to echo the sentiments of Cristiano Ronaldo in calling for people to follow the guidance of health organisations.

As Ronaldo and Jurgen Klopp were praised by the World Health Organisation for "protecting people from coronavirus", former United States president Barack Obama hailed a host of NBA stars – including Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson – for donating large amounts to help support arena staff during the league's hiatus.

UFC superstar Conor McGregor labelled the pandemic "a stupid f****** virus", but later moved to clarify his aunt did not die after contracting the disease after previously suggesting as such.

And in more positive news, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe revealed his country still plan for the 2020 Olympic Games to go ahead in Tokyo, starting in late July.

The International Olympic Committee will have the final say, but ABE is confident the Games will be staged "without problem".

Elite-level sport has been paused across the globe due to the coronavirus pandemic that now has over 150,000 confirmed cases worldwide.

In a bid to contain the spread of the virus, competitions have steadily been halted over recent weeks.

Each of Europe's top five football leagues are off, along with the Champions League, while the NBA came to a sudden stop on Wednesday.

Motorsport was hit as Formula One's Australian Grand Prix was postponed, while cricket, tennis, golf, hockey and, initially to a lesser extent, rugby all also took stock.

In a peculiar period with a vastly reduced sporting schedule, a number of stars were therefore left to make alternative plans.

Reigning NBA MVP and leading 2019-20 candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo did not last long before he commented on the boredom he was enduring in the absence of basketball.

The Greek Freak posted on Twitter late on Friday: "If this is how my life is going to be after basketball, I'm not retiring for a long time. #25yearCareer"

Antetokounmpo tagged his girlfriend Mariah Riddlesprigger, who replied: "You will literally drive me crazy so the longer the better."

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was revelling in some family time, however, marking Friday 13 by watching a horror movie.

James then filmed his children as they performed a dance for their TikTok accounts, which their famous father promoted on his Instagram story.

F1 champion Lewis Hamilton found a different way to spend his time as the start of the new season was delayed, meanwhile.

"Gutted to not be qualifying today," he wrote on Saturday. "I decided to stick around Melbourne and go indoor rock climbing. It's a great way for me to keep focused."

Hamilton may not have been out on the track, but European Tour golfer Matthias Schwab was – virtually.

The Austrian shared a clip as he multi-tasked, playing a motorsport videogame while keeping fit on his exercise bike.

Elsewhere, Real Madrid had been due to take to the field on Friday before LaLiga went into lockdown, but Sergio Ramos entertained himself and his family.

The Madrid captain uploaded an image to his Instagram story of he and two of his children sporting matching hairstyles.

Ramos added two hashtags, reading, "I stay at home," "We stay at home".

Inter's on-loan Manchester United striker Alexis Sanchez was among the other players left to train at home, and he called his dogs in to help.

The Chile international posted a video, set to Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Want To Have Fun, as he juggled a ball with his dogs in pursuit.

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