NBA

NBA playoffs 2021: Middleton and Giannis star as Bucks force Game 7 against Nets

By Sports Desk June 17, 2021

Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo starred as the Milwaukee Bucks forced a deciding Game 7 in their Eastern Conference semi-final thanks to a 104-89 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday.

Bucks forward Middleton top-scored with an NBA playoff career-high 38 points, including five-from-eight three-pointers, and had 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals, as Milwaukee levelled the series at 3-3.

Two-time MVP Antetokounmpo produced a more aggressive display inside the paint to stay alive in the playoffs, putting up 30 points and 17 rebounds in a double-double display at home to the Nets.

Antetokounmpo played a key role in 14-0 fourth-quarter run, including a strong offensive rebound and slam, which warded off Brooklyn's threat.

Milwaukee's Antetokounmpo did not attempt one three-point shot in a clear change of strategy after criticism for his shooting earlier in the series.

James Harden started again for the Nets after returning from a hamstring injury in Game 5, getting through 39 minutes but was visibly hampered, lacking power and finishing with 16 points, five rebounds and seven assists.

Kevin Durant had another busy shift, playing 40 of the 48 minutes, however he could not carry the second-seeded Nets, scoring 32 points with 11 rebounds following his monster triple-double last time out.

PJ Tucker and Jrue Holiday were strong defensively, with the latter having four steals, harassing Durant – who only shot at 50 per cent from the field and two-from-eight beyond the arc.

Milwaukee led 59-48 at half-time with Antetokounmpo having 18 points in the opening half, shooting eight of nine from the field.

The Nets rallied in the third quarter and put pressure on the Bucks early in the last period with a 10-0 run.

Milwaukee hit back with their 14-0 run which led to Brooklyn benching Durant and Harden late.

The Nets will welcome the Bucks to Brooklyn for Game 7 on Saturday.

 

76ers at Hawks

The east and west's top seeds – the Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz – could be eliminated on Friday, with the Atlanta Hawks and the Los Angeles Clippers both looking to wrap up their Conference semi-final series on their home courts leading 3-2.

Related items

  • McCollum gets two-year, $64million extension from Pelicans McCollum gets two-year, $64million extension from Pelicans

    The New Orleans Pelicans and star guard CJ McCollum have agreed to a two-year, $64million contract extension, according to reports.

    The deal, as reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, keeps McCollum signed through the 2025-26 season, tying him to fellow stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, who are signed through at least the next three seasons.

    McCollum – who was acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers in February – was a scoring machine down the stretch for the Pelicans and helped lift New Orleans into the play-in tournament and, eventually, a compelling six-game series against the top-seeded Phoenix Suns.

    The 31-year-old guard averaged 24.3 points in 26 games with the Pelicans last season, shooting 49.3 per cent from the field and 39.4 per cent from three-point range.

    With one offseason priority completed, the Pelicans can now turn their focus towards getting Williamson back on the court after he missed the entire 2021-22 season with a broken right foot.

    New Orleans fans spent much of last season waiting for Williamson's return, which never came.

    Williamson averaged 27 points over 61 games in 2020-21.

    With their stars now fully healthy, the Pelicans carry elevated expectations into this season, despite playing in a loaded Western Conference.

    New Orleans' high-scoring trio of stars is accompanied by veterans like Jonas Valanciunas, Larry Nance Jr. and Devonte' Graham, while second-year defensive ace Herbert Jones is expected to take a step forward.

    So much of the Pelicans' potential success, however, relies on health.

    Williamson has played 85 career games since being drafted No. 1 overall in 2019. McCollum has missed a total of 45 games over the past two seasons, and Ingram has never played more than 62 games in a season as a starter.

  • Iguodala returning to Warriors for 19th NBA season Iguodala returning to Warriors for 19th NBA season

    Andre Iguodala will be putting off retirement for another year after announcing he will return to the Golden State Warriors for a 19th NBA season.

    Iguodala, who will turn 39 in January, revealed his decision on Friday on the Point Forward podcast he hosts with former player Evan Turner, adding that the 2022-23 season will be his final one.

    Iguodala won the fourth NBA championship of his career when the Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics in six games in the NBA Finals in June.

    He admitted he was leaning towards retirement during the summer before being convinced by Stephen Curry and several other members of the Golden State organisation to return for one more season.

    "I'm letting you know, Steph, this is the last one," Iguodala stated in reference to Warriors superstar Curry.

    "I'm gonna blame a few people," he also joked. "Steph Curry is one person I'm gonna blame. As a group I'm blaming Draymond [Green], Steph and Klay [Thompson], [head coach] Steve Kerr a little bit and [general manager] Bob Myers.

    "They just really showed me a lot of love. They really helped me see my presence outside of physically playing basketball, but also Steve was a big culprit in terms of 'listen, we really need you on the court'."

    Iguodala, a 2011-12 All-Star and the MVP of the 2015 NBA Finals, played in just 31 games last season while averaging 4.0 points and 3.7 rebounds, and was used sparingly during Golden State's postseason run to the franchise's fourth title in eight years.

    The Warriors still value the two-time NBA All-Defensive Team member for his contributions on that side of the ball, however, as well as his leadership and influence on the team's younger players.

    Iguodala returned for a second stint with the Warriors by signing a one-year contract in August 2021. He previously spent six seasons with the franchise from 2013-19 before a two-year run with the Miami Heat.

    "I came back last year to make sure we got this right, like 'we not gonna waste Steph's years'," Iguodala remarked. "We won the [championship] and I was like, 'alright.' And [Curry] was like, 'nope, I need you back for another one'."

    Iguodala broke into the NBA as a first-round pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in 2004 and has averaged 11.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists over 1,223 regular-season games.

  • Boston Celtics confirm season-long suspension for head coach Ime Udoka Boston Celtics confirm season-long suspension for head coach Ime Udoka

    Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka has officially been suspended by the franchise for the entire 2022-23 season for an "improper" consensual relationship with a female staff member.

    Udoka, who in his first year as a head coach guided the Celtics to their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010, will be replaced by assistant Joe Mazzulla as interim head coach, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

    Mazzulla was considered a finalist for the Utah Jazz head coaching role that ended up going to fellow Celtics assistant Will Hardy, after former Celtics general manager Danny Ainge took the top role in Utah.

    In a 46-word statement on Thursday night, the Celtics confirmed reports from ESPN and The Athletic that they have opted to sideline Udoka for the full season for what they call "violations of team policies".

    Udoka also released a brief apology, saying: "I want to apologise to our players, fans the entire Celtics organisation, and my family for letting them down. I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team's decision. Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.