Chris Paul’s nemesis, Scott Foster, to officiate Game 6 of NBA Finals

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Arizona Sports 20 July, 2021 - 09:21am 12 views

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Gates to the Deer District will open at 6 p.m. which is two hours before tip off. WTMJ-TVMilwaukee Bucks expand Deer District again, adding space for a total of 65,000 fans for Game 6

Chris Paul teams are 1-12 in the last 13 playoff games refereed by official Scott Foster, who will be the chief for the refereeing crew in Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks.

Foster will be joined by referee Eric Lewis and umpire Tony Brothers with Pat Fraher on deck as an alternate.

The Suns have already won a game this postseason that was officiated by Foster.

In Game 2 against the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Finals, the Suns pulled off a one-point win thanks to the now famous “Valley-Oop” in the final seconds.

Paul missed that game due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Nonetheless, the win snapped an 11-game losing streak that he referenced postgame in a first-round loss against the Los Angeles Lakers, another game Foster officiated.

“If I was a betting man, 11 games in a row,” Paul said. “Eleven games in a row.”

Foster was the referee in Game 3 of the NBA Finals against the Bucks, the first game the Suns lost in the series. Phoenix held a 2-0 series lead before that 120-100 Milwaukee victory on July 11 that stands as the biggest win in any of the five games thus far in the Finals.

After the game, Suns coach Monty Williams was quick to point out how the officials impacted the game.

“The free throw disparity is what it is,” Williams said. “They had one player with 17 free throws; we had 16. That’s not complaining. That’s stating facts.”

Phoenix takes to the court for Game 6 in a must-win situation, trailing the Bucks 3-2 in the series.

Read full article at Arizona Sports

Chris Paul on Giannis Antetokounmpo FTs: ‘Everybody’s out there anticipating a miss. Hell, even he is’

Yahoo Sports 20 July, 2021 - 12:10pm

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

But the Bucks have offensively rebounded some of those misses, including Antetokounmpo tipping out his own miss after he drew a foul on his incredible alley-oop late in Game 5.

“Everybody’s out there anticipating a miss,” Suns guard Chris Paul said. “Hell, even he is.”

Paul isn’t wrong. But that’s harsh to say.

It’s especially harsh because Devin Booker – sitting beside Paul at the press conference – already answered the question. Paul could have easily let Booker’s benign words stand alone. Especially after a loss, players often want to talk as little as possible then leave.

But Paul wanted to get in this comment.

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Utah State’s Sam Merrill and BYU’s Elijah Bryant are enjoying their front-row seats at the NBA Finals

Salt Lake Tribune 20 July, 2021 - 08:38am

(Photo courtesy of Nick Monroe | Milwaukee Bucks) Former BYU guard Elijah Bryant, left, and Utah State guard Sam Merrill are rookies this season with the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks.

Elijah Bryant played his final game for Maccabi Tel Aviv on May 4, scoring 15 points in 21 minutes in an Israeli Super League victory over Hapoel Haifa. He signed a two-year, $1.5 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks nine days later.

And on Tuesday night, if the Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, the former BYU guard can become an NBA champion.

“It’s definitely been like, ‘What is going on?’” Bryant told The Salt Lake Tribune on Monday evening.

It’s a question simultaneously hyperbolic and yet wholly appropriate.

Bryant is one of two former Beehive State collegians on Milwaukee’s roster this season, along with ex-Utah State standout Sam Merrill, the 60th and final selection in the 2020 NBA Draft who joined an already-loaded Bucks roster as part of the four-team trade that saw them bring in Jrue Holiday.

In his final two seasons at USU, as the unquestioned star of the Aggies program, Merrill averaged 35.2 minutes, 13.7 shots, and 20.3 points per game. This year, in a rookie campaign with Milwaukee that’s been far from normal, he appeared in just 30 of 72 regular-season games, and averaged 7.8 minutes, 2.4 shots, and 3.0 points per game.

“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been a great experience for me,” Merrill told The Tribune on Monday morning. “It’s been unlike anything I’ve ever been through.”

The Bucks are, after all, one victory away from claiming the franchise’s first championship since 1971, back when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was still known as Lew Alcindor.

Granted, neither player has had much of a hand in the ultimate outcome. Bryant, after appearing in just one regular-season game, has scored 14 combined points in 11 playoff appearances totaling 49 minutes this postseason. Merrill’s managed just five points in eight playoff games over a span of 29 minutes played.

And they’ve barely set foot on the court in the Finals, appearing in one game apiece — Merrill for 1:18 of Milwaukee’s 120-100 Game 3 victory, and Bryant all of 17 seconds in the Bucks’ 118-108 Game 2 loss.

Which is not to say the Finals experience hasn’t been impactful for them.

“You have to stay prepared, because you never know if a couple of guys are going to go down, especially this year. Who knows if a couple of guys get COVID or whatever may happen,” Merrill said. “For us young guys, the team’s not really practicing, but we’re obviously working really hard. We’re scrimmaging a whole lot, we’re lifting every day, conditioning and all that stuff. So there’s a fine line of focusing on my development and getting better while also trying to stay ready just in case your number is called — you don’t want to be completely gassed from a workout or whatever.”

Bryant, meanwhile, has been trying to soak up the mentality of quiet confidence that his veteran teammates exude. This postseason, he explained, has been something of a master class in not overreacting to bad moments or stretches, and trusting in their capacity to bounce back.

“It’s been really cool just to see how well these guys take one possession at a time, or one day at a time, one game at a time,” Bryant said. “You look at the Brooklyn series — down 0-2, no one stressed. I’m thinking, ‘Oh shoot.’ Being a rookie, I’m thinking, ‘Down 0-2, it’s going to be hard to win,’ but these guys are seasoned vets, they understand it’s hard to win playoff games, especially on the road.

“… [Coach Mike Budenholzer] always says, ‘Don’t believe ‘em when they’re saying you’re good, and don’t listen to ‘em when they’re saying you’re bad,’” he continued. “You’ve got to keep that even keel — that’s one thing that I’ve really appreciated and learned from these veterans here.”

Both players have been trying to balance multiple goals — remaining ready to go, while also trying to add to their respective toolboxes ahead of the coming Las Vegas Summer League.

Merrill, a 6-foot-4 native of Bountiful, has been working all season to dramatically alter his physical conditioning, noting how “coming in, it was a bit of … not a reality check, but the thing that stood out to me the most when I first got here was just how strong everybody is.” Bryant, meanwhile, as a 26-year-old combo guard who departed the Cougars in 2018, doesn’t figure he’s going to make any seismic leaps athletically at this point, and so is devoting himself to being better at reading the court: “You have a lot of guys in the NBA who are super-athletic but don’t understand the game as well.”

That’s down the line, though. In the here and now, there’s one more win yet to be earned. Merrill noted that while the city of Milwaukee is buzzing with anticipation, the Bucks’ players are all spreading the message that they haven’t achieved anything yet.

Bryant, meanwhile, at the tail end of a chaotic two-month indoctrination into the highest level of professional basketball, conceded he hasn’t had too many spare moments to simply reflect on his unexpected journey. That will change, though, if and when the Bucks pull off one more win.

“Going from Elon to BYU, BYU to a small team in Israel, from a small team in Israel to Maccabi, you see what it takes, so you have to stay the course,” he said. “… There’s so much going on — I’m trying to plan for Summer League, I’m trying to plan where I’m going after, there’s so much going on that I haven’t really had time. … But I guarantee after Summer League, it’ll really hit me — ‘Dude, you won a championship.’”

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