Stephen A. reacts to the Suns' Game 5 loss: The series is over! | First Take


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Opinion: Jrue Holiday's masterful offense, game-saving defense put Bucks on brink of NBA championship

USA TODAY 19 July, 2021 - 12:00pm

Jrue Holiday broke out of a shooting slump with 27 points, then sealed the Bucks' Game 5 win with a clutch steal and alley-oop in the closing seconds.

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USA TODAY Sports' Jeff Zillgitt breaks down the Bucks strategic approach to beating the Suns. USA TODAY

PHOENIX — Giannis Antetokounmpo had The Block in Game 4.

Jrue Holiday kept the signature moments going in Game 5 with The Steal and then The Pass.

It’s no surprise two of the defining plays for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals are on defense.

What perhaps was a surprise in Milwaukee’s 123-119 victory against Phoenix on Saturday was Holiday’s offensive production. Through the first four games of the Finals, Holiday shot 33.3% from the field and 27.3% on 3-pointers and had to answer questions about his offensive shortcomings.

"I feel like at the end of the day, whatever I can do to help my team is most important," Holiday said. "I went 4-for-20 the game before and we still won and I know I can do other things to affect the game. I know when my shot is going and I'm trying to make plays for others, it is definitely an added bonus."

Holiday constructed a masterful offensive performance and a game-winning defensive effort as the Bucks took a 3-2 series lead.

Holiday had 27 points, 13 assists, four rebounds, three steals and a block, and in a three-second span with moments left in the fourth quarter, he made the plays of the game.

With Milwaukee clinging to a one-point lead and the Suns rallying from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit, Holiday stole the ball — ripped it — from Suns star Devin Booker with 16.7 seconds left. As he contemplated dribbling seconds off the clock, he saw Antetokounmpo calling for an alley-oop. He threw the ball and Antetokounmpo dunked it with 13.5 seconds remaining.

Defense and offense in a matter of seconds.

"He's an incredible defender, strong hands and got in there and took it," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "I think most times you just want to pull it out and run the clock. But Jrue and Giannis in a two-on-one, just to put two points on the board. I think just trusting their instincts, trusting them. Giannis getting a bucket and putting us up (three points). They're playing, they're competing. That's what we need."

Said Holiday: "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."

Once down 2-0 in the series, the Bucks are just one victory from their first championship since 1971. Game 6 is Tuesday in Milwaukee (9 p.m. ET, ABC).

Holiday delivered the goods. He made 12-of-20 shots, including 3-of-6 on 3-pointers, and led a second-quarter rally that saved the Bucks from a 3-2 series deficit.

Phoenix raced to a 37-21 lead in the first 12 minutes and made just about shot they took. But that 16-point lead disappeared in the first four minutes of the second quarter. Holiday scored nine of his 14 second-quarter points during a 21-5 run. By the end of the quarter, the Bucks had a 64-61 lead and never trailed again.

He scored nine points in the third and just two in the fourth but continued to make winning plays.

"It takes a lot out of his body to do what he does on a nightly basis," Antetokounmpo said. "Pick the point guard up full court, and then bring the ball up, put the whole team in order, in position, execute, try to score, try to get downhill, try to find the open man. Like, it's a lot, you know. But we trust him that he can do that.

"But one thing, the great thing about Jrue is that he can affect the game in a lot of ways."

The Bucks were in a need of a point guard who could elevate them to the next level alongside Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. General manager Jon Horst and Milwaukee’s front office had targeted Holiday for a few seasons but couldn’t find the right deal.

The Bucks spent considerable time on Holiday scouting reports and analytical data. They determined he was the player who could get them to a title.

Just before the season, the Bucks found the right deal with New Orleans and traded for Holiday. It cost Milwaukee three future first-round picks, but getting to the Finals and needing one victory to win a championship is worth it.

"I love being teammates with him," Antetokounmpo said, "and I hope moving forward we can be teammates for a lot of years."

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Jrue Holiday steps up with a two-way masterpiece in Game 5 right when the Milwaukee Bucks needed him most

Sky Sports 19 July, 2021 - 12:00pm

NBA Lead Writer @kylepicknell

Before the 2020-21 season even got underway, the Milwaukee Bucks bet the house on Jrue Holiday. He was, the franchise believed, the missing piece of the championship puzzle alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. So much so they mortgaged their future for a 30-year-old point guard and handed him a four-year, $160m contract extension the day after he touched down in Wisconsin.

Antetokounmpo was a reigning two-time MVP and Defensive Player of the Year heading into this season. Middleton a two-time All-Star. In effect, it's now, soon, or never.

Milwaukee know better than anyone a player like Giannis comes along only once in a generation, or even longer than that. This is a ball club without a championship for 50 years, when the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, selected first by the Bucks in the 1969 draft, led the team to its only ever title in 1971.

Once he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers just four years later, that was that. The Bucks had not reached the NBA Finals or sniffed a championship since, until now.

Those are the kind of numbers you expect from Giannis' three-point attempts, not a guy who shot over 50 per cent during the regular season. From deep it was even worse, as he went 1-12 in total - a ghastly 8 per cent from beyond the arc.

Game 3 will forever be etched in history as 'the Giannis game' given his historic dominance in the paint, but Holiday came alive in that one too, scoring 21 points and nailing half of his 10 triples. That level of play did not last, and it was left up to Giannis and Middleton to come up with clutch play after clutch play in Game 4's thrilling final quarter to tie the series.

It did not seem like either the Bucks or the Suns would be able to beat the other on the road given their dominant home court records. Then right on cue, Milwaukee flew into Phoenix and lit it up, overcoming a 16-point (sixteen!) point deficit in the first quarter to pour in 43 in the second and lead the rest of the way, even if things got exceptionally dicey in the final period.

He led all scorers at the half with 18 points after swishing almost everything in the opening quarters, going 8-11 from the field and a perfect 2-2 from three. It seemed all he needed all along was to watch that very first shot of the game drop soundlessly through the hoop, the ball leaving the net undisturbed by its presence.

Once rolling he did not stop and ended with 27 points, 13 assists, four rebounds, three steals and one block, as well as a game high +14 in plus/minus.

The 'Big Three' proved themselves just that, becoming just the fifth trio in NBA Finals history to each score 25 points on 50 per cent shooting in a single game and are the first to do so since James Worthy (33 points), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (36 points) and Magic Johnson (26 points) in 1985.

However, it was Holiday who ultimately proved the difference-maker for the Bucks on the night to put them within touching distance of the title. As clutch plays go, his steal and alley-oop pass to Giannis to put the Bucks up three with 13 seconds left was as decisive as they come.

He literally snatched a go-ahead bucket attempt from the ice cold killer that is Devin Booker (another 40-point game in a losing effort for the Suns) and turned it into an emphatic, soul-sucking slam at the other end to seal the game. It will be right up there with Giannis' block from another world in Game 4 as the moments played over and over again by fans in the near future, fondly reminiscing about whatever comes of this series.

It might well prove the biggest steal, and biggest assist, in Milwaukee Bucks history.

Even so, he hounded Paul almost into submission for the second game running and had one astounding play where, as Booker tried to body past him at half-court with shoulder-into-chest shoves, Holiday didn't budge. Booker tried again, and again, and this time had the ball stripped in a flash and a three-pointer drained over his head at the other end.

Given what was to come in the final 16 seconds, there was more than a hint of foreshadowing.

Defense leads to offense for Holiday, tough play 😤

It was not just those two, either. He's as strong as an ox who's spent lockdown in the weight room, meaning he can pick up bigger players on switches in the post and guard up multiple positions, despite being one of the shortest guys on the court at 6'3". The on-ball defense par excellence is what we've come to expect from the two-time All-Defensive First Teamer, and it's been a consistent theme throughout the series even as Holiday's shooting stroke deserted him.

To see it finally come up trumps in a potentially-defining Game 5 win on the road was fitting.

"Honestly, it was great team defense. We felt like we knew Booker wanted to take that last shot, Tuck [PJ Tucker] played great defense on him and made him turn his back," he said after the game.

"He turned right into me. So I guess I was just in the right place at the right time."

That takes guts, sure, but one thing most of all.

"I think the pass was all about trust," Giannis said. He was right, and how poetic it was for Holiday, the guy they have been trusting all along through this rough patch, to repay it all back in one glorious moment.

In the locker room after the game the first thing Holiday - or 'Jrueski' to his team-mates - did was scribble that same digit on the whiteboard.

"It might as well be us, huh. One more baby. One more boys."

After the game of his life, the Milwaukee Bucks are 48 minutes away from their bet on Jrue Holiday paying out the ultimate reward.

Inside the locker room after the Bucks WIN Game 5 of the #NBAFinals!!

Opinion: Bucks' character, resiliency has them one win from an NBA title vs. Suns

Yahoo Sports 19 July, 2021 - 12:00pm

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

“We got smacked, embarrassed,” Bucks guard Khris Middleton said. “A lot of people thought our season was done.”

Sure looked like the Bucks were headed for another disappointing playoff exit.

Milwaukee lost Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals at home against the Atlanta Hawks and then lost star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (hyperextended left knee) for the final two games of a 2-2 series.

In both series, the Bucks found a way to win, beating Brooklyn in a Game 7 thriller on the road and winning two consecutive games against the Hawks without Antetokounmpo.

“It's a good group,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “High character. I think there's a ton of talent. The roster is versatile. There's a physicality. It's just a really good team. Good team with good character. Credit to them. They've been able to respond and be resilient. It's a big part of who we are.”

That character, that resiliency have put the Bucks on the threshold of the franchise’s first championship since 1971.

Down 2-0 after the start of the NBA Finals in Phoenix, the Bucks have won three consecutive games and can close out the series in Game 6 on Tuesday in Milwaukee (9 p.m. ET, ABC).

“We're competitors,” reserve guard Pat Connaughton said. “We wouldn't be here if we didn't believe. We have a resilient group in that locker room. We have a group that has been through a lot. We have been through adversity this year, and the one thing that's remained consistent is we've fought through it together. We've had each other's backs. We've looked at each other in the locker room and fought for the guy sitting next to you and the guy sitting on the other side of you.”

Teams that have lost the first two games of the NBA Finals are 4-31. The Bucks are trying to become the fifth team to win, and they’re playing like a team capable of doing it.

The Bucks’ past failures have hardened this team and made it stronger and more able to handle the rigors of postseason hardships.

“I feel like we don't stop,” Antetokounmpo said late Saturday night after dealing with cramps from giving all that he had. “I've been a part of different teams. Usually when you're down 15 or 16 or whatever, down 0-2 or whatever the case might be, you kind of stop competing in a way.

“But I feel like this team, we don't do that. We haven't done that all year long. I can't remember, I can't go that far back, but we keep competing.”

Within these big-picture examples are molecular examples — winning plays that lead to victories.

In their 123-119 victory against Phoenix in Game 5 on Saturday, the Bucks overcame a 37-21 first-quarter deficit on the road. In the final minute with a one-point Bucks lead, Jrue Holiday stole the ball from Phoenix’s Devin Booker, who had his offense going and was setting up to take one of his tough-to-stop mid-range jumpers.

In the two closest, heart-thumping contests of the Finals — Games 4 and 5 — Milwaukee maintained focus and made winning plays - key Holiday rebound, steal and pass here, a Middleton jumper there and of course an Antetokounmpo dunk and block punctuating the victory.

It’s been a team effort — Connaughton 3s, P.J. Tucker rebounds, Bobby Portis Jr. hustle and Brook Lopez contributing in uncertain minutes depending on matchups.

Remember those Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls teams of the 1980s? It took multiple playoff losses before they won championships. The Pistons had trouble beating the Boston Celtics and when they finally beat Boston, they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals. They came back the next year and defeated the Lakers and won a second consecutive title against Portland.

Michael Jordan’s Bulls struggled to get past the Pistons and when they finally broke through, it was championship after championship.

Lessons were learned. The heartbreak was necessary to build the resolve required to win the Finals.

“Every team has a different journey,” Budenholzer said. “Players have different journeys. So I certainly feel like what we've been through this playoffs. Every team that advances, you feel like you're better because of the competition you just went through.

“And what we have been through the last couple two, three years, it's prepared us to be in this moment and play and execute both ends of the court. So I think it's just part of our journey, and we've still got a ways to go.”

For some teams, it’s a step-by-step process with progress and setbacks.

Are the Bucks about to bust through to the other side?

“Even if we're down 0-2, we're down 0-1, we're down 16 points, we keep coming, we keep competing, because we know the game is long,” said Antetokounmpo, the favorite for Finals MVP. “It’s 48 minutes, and we always try to put ourselves in a position to win the game. That's all you can ask for.

“You go into a game, you don't know if you're going to win the game but you know if we compete for 48 minutes, we are good. We have great players, great closers, great shooters, great rebounders, great defenders, have a great coach and we know that we can put ourselves in a position to win the game.”

MILWAUKEE (AP) Giannis Antetokounmpo believes it's the tenacity of the Bucks that has Milwaukee a game away from its first championship in a half century. The Bucks lead the Phoenix Suns 3-2 as they return home to seek a potential title-clinching victory in Game 6 on Tuesday. ''I feel like we don't stop,'' Antetokounmpo said.

Jrue Holiday broke out of a shooting slump with 27 points, then sealed the Bucks' Game 5 win with a clutch steal and alley-oop in the closing seconds.

Will the home team cover once again?

The Suns have quickly shifted their mindset after losing 123-119 to the Bucks on Saturday in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Here's how the Milwaukee Bucks' impressive comeback in Game 5 of the 2021 NBA Finals compared to the Boston Celtics' record-setting comeback in Game 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

The San Diego Padres and Washington will resume their game after it was suspended because of a shooting outside Nationals Park. The game Saturday night was halted in the sixth inning with the Padres ahead 8-4. The shooting, an exchange of gunfire between people in two cars, left three people injured, according to Ashan Benedict, the Metropolitan Police Department’s executive assistant police chief.

The official list of who's running in California's recall election of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom remained unsettled Sunday, with conservative talk radio host Larry Elder maintaining he should be included and state officials giving no details as to why he wasn't. Secretary of State spokeswoman Jenna Dresner said all candidates who didn't qualify were told why, but a spokesperson for Elder's campaign said they did not receive any notification.

“Black Widow” ceded its No. 1 spot to an unlikely foe in its second week in theaters: The Tune Squad. LeBron James, Bugs Bunny and the rest of the stars of Warner Bros.’ “Space Jam: A New Legacy” defied expectations and won the box office this weekend. According to studio estimates Sunday, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” grossed $31.7 million in North America, while “Black Widow” took in $26.3 million.

The 49ers would have some tough decisions to make if the NFL expanded and did an NHL-style expansion draft.

All five Goon Squad players are having a rough time right now.

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.

The Red Sox completed their Jan. 18 trade with the Philadelphia Phillies involving C.J. Chatham by acquiring right-hander Victor Santos on Saturday as the player to be named later.

"It was a big-time play. It was the winning play of the game."

On Monday, Major League Baseball announced it will invest up to $150 million over the next 10 years into The […] The post MLB to invest up to $150M to improve Black representation appeared first on TheGrio.

In Republicans' bid to retake control of Congress, this traditionally Democratic stretch of South Texas has quietly become a top battleground. After making unexpected gains last November, the GOP is zeroing in on a trio of House seats in the region as key targets heading into next year's midterm elections. Republican leaders believe the party is on the precipice of a political realignment among Hispanic voters in communities along the U.S.-Mexico border like McAllen.

Tongues were wagging in early June when LeBron James and the LA Lakers got bounced from the NBA playoffs in the opening round. It was the earliest exit of the 36-year-old’s career, and the fizzle by the defending champions fueled speculation about James’ future as he approaches his 19th season as a pro. Conveniently, there […]

Tickets for Game 6 are probably out of your price range - WISC-TV3 19 July, 2021 - 12:00pm

MADISON, Wis. — Supporting the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at Fiserv Form may not be in your price range, but all you really need is some good friends, snacks and a TV to get into the Wisconsin spirit.

Tickets for Game 6 can be bought on resale websites like StubHub, Vivid Seats and Seek Geek — but only for a high price.

According to Seat Geek, ticket prices range from $1,038 each to more than $17,000. These prices are comparable to those listed on competing resale sites.

But, you don’t need to break your bank to show your Wisconsin pride and spirit.

Milwaukee Bucks fan Gracie Groshens has not been able to attend a game in Fiserv Form but says that has not stopped her from supporting her favorite basketball team.

“It was really fun. Me and three of my friends stood under a giant screen with a bunch of other loyal Bucks fans and it felt like we were in the actual arena. It felt like the real deal, the environment was great,” Groshens told News 3 Now.

While she says she wishes she could experience a game from the inside, the energy of the city still gave her the true game day experience.

“The energy was high, the passion was there,” Groshens said.

The Bucks can win the NBA title on Tuesday in Game 6. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.


Hotel prices skyrocket near Fiserv Forum

WKOW 19 July, 2021 - 12:00pm

Bucks Fan Justin Koehler ran into a price hike mid-game: "I was looking at halftime, near the stadium, about a half mile from the stadium, and the rooms were going for about $350," said Koehler. "Right after the game, I couldn't find anything for less than five-hundred fifty bucks. We ended up spending six-hundred, on a hotel room."

27 News checked prices for rooms near Fiserv Forum. If you're looking to score a room under $200, you can find them near West Allis. To get something under $100, you might have to stay near Waukesha.

Koehler ended up spending about $3,700, for two tickets, in section 218. "In the grand scheme of things, money doesn't matter," he said.

The Bucks are one win away from their first NBA title since 1971.

After a milder stretch of weather the past couple of weeks, temperatures are ramping back…

Businesses prepare for game 6 in Milwaukee

TMJ4 News 19 July, 2021 - 12:00pm

Bradley Beal Openly Thrashes Reporter Who Dared Ask Devin Booker Dumb Chris Paul Question

ClutchPoints 18 July, 2021 - 01:42pm

Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal, already frustrated over the fact that he won’t be with Team USA in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, had another reason to feel annoyed. That’s after he watched a reported hurl a ridiculous question at Devin Booker about Chris Paul following the Phoenix Suns’ heart-wrenching loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 of the 2021 NBA Finals.

Dumb ass question

— Bradley Beal (@RealDealBeal23) July 18, 2021

As an NBA player himself, Bradley Beal is fully aware that these kinds of questions from reporters who are desperate to have something to write about, regardless of the setting. Then again, a dumb question is a dumb question at the end of the day, which was exactly what Booker got during that particular moment of Saturday night’s postgame presser.

But not even a poorly constructed question could devalue the otherwise entertaining 2021 NBA Finals series, with the Suns and the Bucks putting up one classic game after another. Unfortunately for Devin Booker and the Suns, Game 5 didn’t go their way, as they suffered their first home loss of the Finals. A must-win game on the road is ahead of them, with Game 6 set to be played Tuesday at Fiserv Forum.

As for Beal and the Wizards, they have a long offseason to plan the team’s direction. They had a slow start to the 2020-21 NBA season but turned it on in the second half to catch the boat to the playoffs where they were quickly folded by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round.

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