Bucks vs. Suns NBA Finals line, picks: Advanced computer model releases selections for Game 5 matchup - SportsLine.com

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SportsLine 17 July, 2021 - 02:22pm 5 views

Did Devin Booker foul out?

NBA Finals Suns-Bucks: Twitter Was STUNNED Devin Booker Didn't Foul Out On This Play. Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns lost Game 4 of the NBA Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday night. Sports IllustratedNBA Finals Suns-Bucks: Twitter Was STUNNED Devin Booker Didn't Foul Out On This Play

How many fouls does Booker have?

Devin Booker has been playing in the fourth quarter with five fouls, and Twitter is stunned that he did not pick up his sixth foul on this play (see Tweet below from CrossedSports with the video of the play). Sports IllustratedNBA Finals Suns-Bucks: Twitter Is STUNNED Devin Booker Didn't Foul Out On This Play

Giannis Antetokounmpo's epic block thrilled the NBA world during Game 4 of the Finals. How does it compare to the best blocks in playoff history?

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USA TODAY Sports' Jeff Zillgitt breaks down how Giannis Antetokounmpo has the potential to break out in the 2021 NBA Finals. USA TODAY

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo thrilled the basketball world with his huge clutch block Wednesday night on Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton during Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

With the Bucks ahead 101-99 and just over a minute left, Suns guard Devin Booker tossed up a lob pass for Ayton near the rim. Ayton looked to have a shot at an easy alley-oop slam, but Antetokounmpo recovered and got his long right arm up in time to deny Ayton on the dunk attempt.

The block helped the Bucks maintain the lead on their way to a 109-103 victory that evened the series at 2-2. Antetokounmpo finished with two blocks on the night to go with 26 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists and three steals.

Antetokounmpo put on a show with back-to-back 40-point outings in Games 2 and 3, but last season's defensive player of the year has also been a huge presence on defense for the Bucks as they look to win their first NBA championship since 1971.

So how does the Greek Freak's denial stack up against the best ever? Here are 10 more of the best blocks in NBA playoff history:

It's one of the most memorable plays in NBA history and perhaps the signature moment of James' career. With under two minutes left and the score tied at 89, James chased down Iguodala on the fast break from near mid-court and swatted his layup attempt off the glass. The block helped the Cavaliers complete their comeback from a 3-1 series deficit and win Cleveland's first professional sports championship in 52 years.

The Rockets needed Olajuwon's block on Starks in the closing seconds to force a decisive Game 7 on the way to their first championship. Houston led 86-84 when Starks got free on the left wing and attempted a potential game-winning 3-pointer. Olajuwon, the league MVP and defensive player of the year that season, recovered at the last moment and deflected Starks' shot off line. The Rockets won the title in Game 7, and Olajuwon was named Finals MVP.

James' first indelible Finals block came early in an epic seven-game series that's also remembered for Ray Allen's famous 3-pointer late in Game 6. After losing the opener, the Heat evened the series with a 103-84 rout in Game 2 that James put an exclamation point on with a huge block against Splitter in the fourth quarter. Splitter rolled down the lane and cocked the ball back for a dunk, but James met him at the rim for the denial.

Down 1-0 in the series, Detroit held a 69-67 lead with under 40 seconds left. The Pistons turned the ball over, and Miller got it on a runout with no one between him and the basket. Everyone in the arena thought Miller had a game-tying layup, but Prince chased him down out of nowhere for the block that helped seal the Pistons' win. Detroit won the series in six games, then upset the Lakers in the Finals for the 2004 title.

The sequence still gives Knicks fans nightmares. The series was tied 2-2, and the Bulls lead 95-94 with under 20 seconds to go in Game 5. Patrick Ewing shuffled a pass inside to Smith, who found himself swarmed by the Bulls. Grant blocked Smith's first layup attempt. Smith got the ball back, but Michael Jordan knocked it away. Smith got it back again, only for Pippen to block him on two more attempts to seal the win for Chicago. The Bulls then won the series in Game 6 on the way to their third straight NBA title.

Adebayo had a breakout postseason in 2020, and his game-sealing block on Tatum was one of his biggest plays. With the Heat leading 116-114 in the final seconds of overtime, Tatum drove the lane for what looked like a game-tying dunk. But Adebayo rotated over from the weak side and stuffed Tatum at the rim with his left hand. Adebayo collected the rebound as the Heat won the series opener on their way to the NBA Finals.

One of Ginobili's countless clutch plays during his career with the Spurs came on a rejection of Harden that clinched a pivotal win. The Rockets trailed 110-107 with 9.3 seconds left in overtime when Harden got by Ginobili on the left wing and rose up to take a potential game-tying 3-pointer. Ginobili recovered and blocked Harden's shot from behind as the buzzer sounded on a San Antonio victory.

Bryant made his name as a scorer, but he was also a 12-time All-Defensive team pick, and he showed why with a big block on Wells. Early in the fourth quarter, Wells drove and put up a shot over Rick Fox. Bryant rotated over from the other side of the lane and volleyball spiked Wells' shot with his left hand. Bryant's defense helped the Lakers rally to win Game 7 on their way to the first of three straight NBA titles.

Antetokounmpo's block on Ayton wasn't his first notable defensive play in the series. Late in the first half of Game 1, the Suns got out on a fast break, and Bridges drove in for a layup attempt. Antetokounmpo chased the play down from behind and soared in to pin Bridges' shot on the glass for an incredible block. The ESPN broadcast noted how reminiscent the play was of James' famous chase-down block in the 2016 Finals.

It's not easy to block a dominant inside presence like O'Neal without fouling, but Wallace managed to do it and send O'Neal sprawling to the floor. After O'Neal shook off one defender, he went up for what looked like an easy dunk, but Wallace sprinted back and pinned the ball in O'Neal's hands to force a jump-ball. Wallace got the highlight and the Pistons the win, but the Heat took Game 6 to clinch the series.

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Scottsdale Packers bar turns into a Milwaukee Bucks bar

azfamily powered by 3TV & CBS5AZ 17 July, 2021 - 02:01pm

The scourge of 'ratings' in NBA discussion

Yardbarker 17 July, 2021 - 02:01pm

by Jack Tien-Dana

by John Wilmes

by Rafael Uehara

by Colin McGowan

Tools and Resources Used by Real General Managers.

by John Wilmes

I have not taken a true look at the television ratings for the 2021 NBA Finals, and I will not be doing so. If I did, I would be sure to first do quite a bit of research into how exactly viewership of professional sports is tracked in the 21st century—I cannot imagine that this is a simple endeavor, nor that there is ever a simple, single, all-encompassing number to available, for the sake of telling a cultural story, hinging upon thoroughly quantified attention levels to a giant corporate entertainment product.

Again, I will not be doing this research, for a number of reasons, the main two being that it is: 1) almost impossible to do correctly, unless you have access to proprietary data on the matter (I don’t) and 2) it is almost infinitely less interesting than basketball itself. Many huge sports media voices are, however, not interested in basketball, or seemingly even interested in sports; one would have to stretch their mind quite a bit just to frame most of the pundit profession as even interested in humanity as anything but a den of hogs that they throw rhetorical meat to, carnival-barking their way to higher and higher pay days.

It is one thing for those who engage in this sort of conversation as a multi-million dollar hustle. We cannot expect the Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith types of the world to do anything else—this would be like anticipating a salmon to speak and fly. Their nature (identifying the most upsetting way to discuss anything and then doing so at maximum volume) is known. They are profitable monsters, reaching outside of their gilded caves to scoop up the enriching lard lying just outside, and this won’t stop being the case anytime soon.

It is a different thing entirely, however, when the way of discussing basketball amidst the yeoman crowd begins to take on the same color of the intentionally idiotic pundit class, and the nature of how the game is played, at its highest level, retreats far from the material, and deep into a nonsensical swirl of misplaced politics, regionalism, and armchair economics. Put more simply, this is a conversation that totally and absolutely sucks, and should not be had for any reason. The next time you encounter anyone mentioning the ratings of the NBA Finals as a means of pouring fake concrete beneath their flimsy cultural-critical structures, you should understand what is happening before you to be less coherent, and certainly less respectable, than the way a dog sometimes howls out its desire to be a human.

It is unfortunate, to say the least, that we are—or ever have been—here: a place where a huge amount of the potential audience for people with tremendous physical gifts, playing a complicated game better than almost anyone has ever done anything, is just a bunch of hair-trigger opinionators immediately looking for ways to shape the transcendent competition before them into a cudgel that proves their pre-existing hunch about the world, too generalized and transparently aggrieved to be taken seriously. But this is definitely where we are.

Without LeBron James in the Finals action, for just the second time in the last 11 years, the hot garbage that is spewed in the NBA’s directions by morons is, mercifully, at least a little bit different than it usually is. It is not a desirable kind of different, though. Mostly we hear about market sizes, which are evoked as the ballroom floor foundation for a dizzying, sad little ego dance to take place upon, performed by people who act as though the logic of “some things being bigger than other things, which are, by comparison, sort of small” is both revelatory and a statement that makes them shine brightly. 

If Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to play the way he has been, though, such voices will shrink further, even as attention levels to the Finals are increasingly threatened by a post-COVID American public desperate to travel and be social in mid-July. His late game block of Devin Booker’s lob to Deandre Ayton in a 109-103 victory of his Milwaukee Bucks over the Phoenix Suns was an iconic enough moment to paralyze all the silly detractors for a moment. Well, not all of them. But those who know the game, and have seen Ayton develop into one of the game’s premier pick and roll threats, saw Giannis suss out the action as it was developing, bait the lob, and perform a hilariously difficult lateral movement that flowed seamlessly into an instantly memorable aerial feat, in the exact moment that his team needed the amazing to take place.

The prospect of more of that happening is why I’ll be watching, and why you will be too. Giannis is elevating possibilities in his sport very broadly, and staking a strong claim within its history. Seeing all of that legacy weight carried effectively on one man’s shoulders is the refreshing kind of surreal. And the onus to make sure you don’t miss it, and do appreciate his greatness in live action, is on the rest of the world; not on him and the people who share the floor with him, because what they are doing is more important, and better, than what anyone has to say about it.

John Wilmes is a contributor to RealGM

Follow @johnwilmeswords on Twitter.

Game Four was the best shot-making game we’ve ever seen from Devin Booker

Bright Side of the Sun 16 July, 2021 - 08:00am

The bad man was in his bag in Milwaukee on Wednesday night.

He had to hear about his own failure in Game Three for nearly half a week because of the long break between contests. He likely knew he was ready, but time can sap confidence.

Once the game started, his confidence was proven correct, and we all were reminded that, no, the Bucks do not have an answer for him. Neither Khris Middleton nor PJ Tucker (whom he was 11-21 against through the first three games) can guard him, and once Booker was able to get some floaters to go in early on, his rhythm locked into place. The bad man awoke.

But just as quickly as he started, he had to slow down. A fourth foul at the 5:55 mark led Monty Williams to put him on the bench, then to do so again at the 10:50 mark in the final period after foul number five. Booker ended the night with only 39 minutes played, so his 42 points stood more for what could have been (50? 60?) than what was. His scorching game and foul trouble were both punctuated by late game moments that defined the loss.

On the big block that helped seal the game, Giannis Antetokounmpo initially motioned toward Booker and looked to be out of the play. It’s because Booker was the threat, a man on a mission to win the game and a title. And then there was Booker’s own late foul on Jrue Holiday, the one that wasn’t called. Despite all of it, Booker put together the best shot-making game of his entire career.

For a player who has scored 70 points in a game, who has had 47 in a closeout game against his team’s mortal enemy, who most recently put up a 40-point triple-double to open the Western Conference Finals — that’s saying something. But for my money, we’ve never seen a night quite like this one when it comes to Booker, one of the pre-eminent shot makers in the NBA, just flat-out making shots.

It looked like so many games prior, with Booker coming off screens, loading up for his high-rise jumper, finding crevices in the defense big enough only for his shot to go up. It was hardly the prettiest box score, with Booker not making a single three or tallying many assists or rebounds (an admittedly big blemish since the Bucks grabbed 17 offensive boards). Still, the degree of difficulty and importance to each shot Booker splashed in made it the greatest shot-making achievement of his career.

We’ve seen 70 points from Booker, and many other grand postseason moments, but it doesn’t get more difficult than a huge Finals game, following up on one of the worst games of your career. Booker did that. Don’t let it go by without appreciating it.

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