NBA Finals 2021 - One win away, Jrue Holiday and the Milwaukee Bucks are staying the course

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ESPN 18 July, 2021 - 01:35am 20 views

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PHOENIX -- Jrue Holiday knows what everyone wants him to do. No one needs to tell him to be more aggressive offensively. Or to keep shooting, that his shots will eventually start falling.

"We always kind of throw that out there," said his father, Shawn Holiday.

But Shawn has coached his son long enough to know how self-observant he is. Coming into Game 5 of these NBA Finals, Holiday had hit just 33% of his shots (23-of-69), including an especially ugly 4-for-20 in Game 4.

"After the game, we might get in the car and say, 'That's a rough one,'" Shawn said. "But we really don't talk about the game much, because he already knows what he has to do."

Be more aggressive. Keep shooting. Trust that eventually, his shots will fall.

"My dad thinks I'm the best player in the world," Holiday said with a smile after scoring 27 points, dishing out 13 assists and creating the play of the night with a steal off Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker with 16.7 seconds remaining in Saturday's Game 5. A perfect alley-oop to teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo followed to seal the Milwaukee Bucks' 123-119 win for a 3-2 lead in the Finals.

"He just feels like I can do everything -- play 48 minutes, I don't need to come out, I don't need a break. But really just be aggressive the whole game."

As Jrue points out, his dad is a bit biased when it comes to him. But Shawn's message to stay the course is important here.

How many star players could struggle from the field as much as Jrue Holiday had before Saturday night and not get down on themselves?

How many would shrug after a 4-for-20 shooting performance and just be happy the team claimed the victory?

"We still won," Holiday said. "And I know I can do other things to affect the game."

One of those turnovers, of course, was the play that ended up deciding Game 5.

The Suns were rallying back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit behind clutch shot-making from Booker, Paul and Mikal Bridges and a succession of three missed free throws by Antetokounmpo.

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After Paul cut the lead to 120-119 with 56 seconds to go, Booker had a chance to give the Suns the lead. He drove past P.J. Tucker into the teeth of the Bucks' defense. Antetokounmpo rotated over to stop his drive, leaving Booker with little choice but to spin away from him.

Holiday had been watching the play unfold, while defending Paul near the 3-point arc. He couldn't leave too early or Booker could find the open Paul. But Holiday couldn't be late, either, or Booker would've had a clean look at a shot out of his spin move.

As it has been so often in this series, Holiday's timing was perfect. He dropped down as Booker was spinning, ripped the ball out from him without fouling, then rushed down the court on a fast break, where Antetokounmpo was in a full sprint, ready for the alley-oop.

"Honestly, it was great team defense," Holiday said. "I feel like we knew Booker wanted to take that last shot and played great defense on him and made him turn his back, and he turned right into me. I guess I was just in the right place at the right time."

Milwaukee's Pat Connaughton was a bit more effusive.

"First Team All-Defense play. It was a Defensive Player of the Year [play]," Connaughton said.

Up in the stands, Shawn and Toya Holiday watched the decisive sequence with a small group of Bucks family members and friends. They've been staying with their second-eldest son at his house in Milwaukee throughout these playoffs and traveling to each road game.

They were happy, but not overly so, considering their son had just turned in his finest performance in the Bucks' most important playoff game to date, which has left them one win away from their first title since 1971, with Game 6 Tuesday night in Milwaukee.

"He's been through this before where his shot's not falling," Shawn said. "But people have to understand there's more to the game than scoring. He's running the team, controlling the tempo of the game through defense.

"So we just tell him to stay the course."

Stay the course and nights like Game 5 happen.

Read full article at ESPN

Thanasis Antetokounmpo enters NBA's COVID-19 protocol, will miss Game 5 for Milwaukee Bucks

ESPN 18 July, 2021 - 03:00am

PHOENIX -- Milwaukee Bucks guard Thanasis Antetokounmpo entered the NBA's Health and Safety Protocols Saturday afternoon, and was listed as out for Game 5 of the NBA Finals Saturday night.

"I think the health and safety protocols are on the front of everybody's minds right now," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "I think we're in a good place and ready to go."

Budenholzer later said the Bucks wouldn't have a full staff available for Game 5, with sources telling ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews that assistant coach Josh Oppenheimer won't be on the bench. It will be the third straight game he's missed, sources told Wojnarowski and Andrews.

Meanwhile, the NBA announced a little more than an hour before tipoff referee Sean Wright would also miss the game after entering the league's health and safety protocols.

Antetokounmpo, the older brother of two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo, was not listed on the league's 1:30pm injury report before appearing on the 5:30pm edition.

Antetokounmpo, who turns 29 Sunday, has played a total of 45 minutes across 13 playoff games. He played 93 seconds in Milwaukee's Game 3 win, the lone time he's played through the first four games of the NBA Finals.

Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul missed the first two games of the Western Conference finals after he tested positive for COVID-19.

LA County mask mandate, TWA Flight 800 tragedy, NBA Finals: 5 things to know this weekend

USA TODAY 18 July, 2021 - 03:00am

Los Angeles County will reinstate its mask mandate, victims' families mark the TWA Flight 800 tragedy and more news to start your weekend.

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California's Los Angeles County, the most populated county in the U.S., will once again require people to wear masks indoors – regardless of vaccination status – due to a recent surge in new COVID-19 cases. The mandate will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. The startling change, announced exactly a month after California became one of the last in the country to reopen and drop coronavirus mandates, aims to stunt an uptick in new cases combined with the spread of the highly infectious delta variant.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in the U.S. as fall approaches, and the biggest concern is children, according to health experts. USA TODAY

On July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800 exploded over the Atlantic Ocean minutes after lifting off from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, killing all 230 passengers and crew. For victims' relatives 25 years later, it is a troubling story of lives cut short – an open wound of the heart that never seems to heal. To some it is still a story of a terrorist conspiracy that persists, despite facts showing the plane was actually brought down by a tragic mechanical failure. To others, it is a somber, bureaucratic turning point in how America investigates air crashes. Not only was TWA 800 one of the worst air disasters in U.S. history, it also raised questions about how America responds to conspiracies and how our government monitors the maintenance of aging commercial jetliners. Victims' relatives are expected to gather at the TWA Memorial in Smith Point Park on Long Island in New York Saturday evening, according to a local report

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is set to be questioned in the state capital of Albany Saturday, the Associated Press reports, as investigators appear close to finishing a probe into the sexual harassment and misconduct allegations that have shadowed him for months. The investigation overseen by state Attorney General Letitia James, a fellow Democrat, is not a criminal inquiry but it could have significant influence on Cuomo's political future. Cuomo is moving forward with plans to run for a fourth term next year, but any findings from the investigation that corroborate the allegations could sway impeachment proceedings or add to already sizable pressure for Cuomo to leave voluntarily before he finishes his third term. The New York Assembly Judiciary Committee's investigation is also looking into other issues, including the underreporting of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes and details around Cuomo's lucrative book deal.

A lawyer for one of the women who have accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of misconduct says Saturday is going to be a "very difficult" day for him. Cuomo is expected to be interviewed by investigators with the state attorney general's office. (July 16) AP Domestic

With Republicans continuing to hammer President Joe Biden's administration on security over the Mexico border, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday he will lead a Florida delegation to Texas for a weekend briefing with state and local officials. DeSantis will be joined by fellow Republicans, Attorney General Ashley Moody and state Senate President Wilton Simpson. The Florida delegation will be briefed Saturday afternoon by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas law enforcement officials. Florida Democrats have dismissed DeSantis' moves as largely politically motivated. Republicans have criticized Biden for loosening restrictive Trump-era immigration policies, while the arrests of migrants at the border have spiked in recent months. DeSantis has blamed the crush of migrants for increasing the flow of illegal drugs, particularly methamphetamine, into this country, including Florida. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is pressing the White House to help preserve internet service to antigovernment protesters in Cuba. The Republican says it is important to do so to allow images of dissent to stream from the authoritarian nation. (July 15) AP Domestic

One of the most popular – and some would say annoying – axioms in sports is, "The series hasn't started until the home team loses." The home team has yet to lose in the first four games of the NBA Finals between the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks. But you might be hard-pressed to convince the teams that the series hasn't started yet. With a pivotal Game 5 of the NBA Finals set for Saturday night in Phoenix (9 p.m. ET, ABC), the Bucks will try to see if the momentum of their two consecutive home wins that evened the series at 2-2 can carry over into Phoenix. Milwaukee will need to win one game in Phoenix since the Suns have the home court in the series. Wednesday's Game 4 saw the Bucks pull ahead late with eight straight points from Khris Middleton and great defense from two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. In fact, there have been early conversations about Antetokounmpo's block of Suns center Deandre Ayton being one of the best denials of all time.  

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NBA-Bucks forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo out for Game Five

Yahoo Sports 17 July, 2021 - 06:25pm

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

Entering the league's health and safety protocols does not mean that Antetokounmpo, who has played a minor role off the bench during the playoffs, has contracted the coronavirus.

In his only appearance of the 2021 NBA Finals, Antetokounmpo recorded three rebounds in two minutes during Milwaukee's Game Three triumph over the Phoenix Suns.

After losing the first two games of the best-of-seven series on the road the Bucks, who won their only NBA championship 50 years ago, won two consecutive games to draw even.

Game Five is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. ET (0100 GMT) in Phoenix.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

When Devin Booker took his usual seat on the bench at the beginning of the second quarter, the Phoenix Suns lost their stranglehold on Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Booker had scored 11 points and the Suns built a 16-point lead on Saturday night against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Footprint Center was in a frenzy and Phoenix couldn't miss a shot.

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In the most important games of this NBA season, COVID-19 continues to make its impact felt. The Milwaukee Bucks will be without reserve forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo, who was placed in the NBA's health and safety protocol before Game 5 of the finals on Saturday. The NBA also announced that Sean Wright wouldn't be able to officiate due to the league’s health and safety protocols.

Collin Morikawa has been making waves in his fledgling golf career and he was doing it again at Royal St George's on Friday in his first British Open. The 24-year-old American, who won last year's PGA Championship, struck a series of pinpoint iron shots to pick up seven birdies in a sublime second-round 64 and open up a three-stroke lead on the field. "I was just sticking to what I'm doing," Morikawa told reporters.

The founder of chip giant TSMC appeared to take a dig at both the United States and China on Friday over their efforts to become self-sufficient at making semiconductors, saying this would drive up costs and limit technological advances. China and the United States, propelled by their trade war and their own security concerns, have been trying to make more of the chips that run everything from smartphones and fridges to missiles, and power the global economy. Both countries are pouring in billions of dollars, leaving Taiwan, home to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), the world's largest contract chipmaker, as well as other makers, caught in the middle as it tries to balance Washington and Beijing.

State Sens. Dick Harpootlian and Wes Climer have joined forces in calling out South Carolina lawmakers and officials, including Gov. Henry McMaster, for “not doing their jobs” in properly vetting earmarks under two state laws.

Driven by the memory of her dead father, Australian teenager Kaylee McKeown has hit a stunning vein of form just in time for her Olympic debut and heads to Tokyo ranked number one in the world in her three individual events. The bubbly 20-year-old Queenslander lit up the Australian trials last month with a world record in the 100 metres backstroke and set the best times of the year in both the 200m backstroke and 200m medley. While American Regan Smith, who set 100m and 200m backstroke world records at the 2019 world championships, will have something to say about it, McKeown could end up as the face of Australia's swimming revival.

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Devin Booker had 40 points for the second straight game, but the Suns' title hopes rest on him getting help shouldering the scoring load.

The Bucks are one win away from the franchise's first NBA title in 50 years after beating the Suns 123-119 in Game 5.

Holiday created, assisted, or scored 67 points in Game 5.

Even without looking, Klay Thompson can get buckets.

Milwaukee's big three carried the day with a combined 88 point

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PHOENIX (AP) Jrue Holiday seized his chance to give the Milwaukee Bucks the lead in the NBA Finals. Took it right out of Devin Booker's hands, actually. Holiday's steal and alley-oop pass to Giannis Antetokounmpo for a dunk sealed a wild Game 5 and gave the Bucks a 123-119 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.

Who's Been More Kobe Bryant In The 2021 NBA Finals? Khris Middleton Or Devin Booker?

ClutchPoints 17 July, 2021 - 11:55am

“Kobe was one of my favorite players—if not my favorite player—growing up, besides (Michael) Jordan,” Middleton said. “I took a lot from his game. To go out there and play and put on that type of performance, I definitely can dedicate that game to him as a thank you for what he did for the game.”

— Basketball Reference (@bball_ref) July 15, 2021

“Honestly, I was thinking about Kobe and the conversations that we had,” Booker said postgame sharing his thoughts when he put his hands together and looked upwards [at Bryant’s retired jerseys at STAPLES] while walking off the floor into the tunnel.

“Kind of about what we just went through, the postseason and being legendary and taking the steps to get there.”

Devin Booker hits the TOUGH fadeaway over Pat Connaughton#NBAFinals pic.twitter.com/SbMEqFm4CR

— Unfiltered Media ™️ (@UnfilteredInd) July 15, 2021

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