The Daily Sweat: Suns will try to keep home-court advantage going in Game 5 of NBA Finals

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Yahoo Sports 16 July, 2021 - 08:10am 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

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Giannis’ Monster Block Sets ABC Up for a $250 Million Payday

Yahoo Sports 16 July, 2021 - 01:11pm

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

After a couple of one-sided games and an early display of domination on the part of the Phoenix Suns that seemed to bear all the earmarks of an unmemorable five-night coast, Giannis Antetokounmpo teleported his way from the stripe to the cylinder to stifle the “oop” part of a Devin Booker-to-Deandre Ayton relay that would have knitted up Game 4 with just 76 ticks left on the clock. The block effectively quashed the Suns’ bid to go up three games to one before heading back to Phoenix, and arguably gave the Finals its first can’t-miss moment.

Milwaukee’s 109-103 victory put an end to a string of lopsided contests—the margins of victory in the first three frames averaged out to a less-than-compelling 14.3 points, with Game 3 clocking in at a whopping 20-point spread—and gift-wrapped a guaranteed sixth outing for ABC. Once a network is guaranteed at least six rounds of championship-grade play, the pressure to hit ratings targets and manage for the margins all but evaporates, as both the number of eyeballs trained on the action and the amount of ad revenue the network takes in begin to soar.

According to Standard Media Index data, ABC booked $250.7 million in ad sales during the Raptors-Warriors sextet in 2019, a benchmark that appears to be within reach this time around. The cost of 30 seconds of in-game airtime is up near $600,000 a pop at the high end, and given the inevitable rate increases that accompany the higher ratings of a sixth game, the network is now playing with house money.

Historically, the sixth game of an NBA Finals lays out the welcome mat for 20 million viewers or more, although even a seminal series like the 2008 Celtics-Lakers showdown can show signs of fatigue if the scoreboard shorts out. While this late-aughts edition of basketball’s greatest rivalry was the first of its kind since the 1987 Bird-Magic scrap, the deciding game was compulsory viewing only for fans who call ice-cream sprinkles “jimmies.” The Celtics rolled to a 39-point victory, and a TV crowd of 24 million viewers dwindled to 16.9 million—a 3% drop from the previous game.

If 20 million viewers for the sixth broadcast of Bucks-Suns is likely out of reach—the audience would have to more than double (+122%) in size between Game 3 and Game 6, which is something that has happened exactly never—that figure is well within reach if a seventh game is required. That sort of turnout will not only keep ABC from being buried under a pile of make-goods, but it would also go a long way toward drowning out a lot of the chatter about the NBA’s waning popularity.

Here’s something to keep in mind when the ratings come in for the deciding game of these Finals: According to Nielsen data, the number of households that have been parked in front of their TVs this month is down 21% compared to the TV usage rates in June 2019, when the Raptors and Warriors participated in the last pre-pandemic title tilt. There are 11.5 million people who were watching TV two years ago who’ve since gone off to apply their attention to other pursuits, a broadcast diaspora that’s likely been exacerbated by the rhythms of the summer season. (July is the month in which Americans have always watched far less TV, and that cyclical avoidance, borne of vacation days and repeats, seems to have been amplified by a vaccination-boosted return to summer sociability.)

The series returns to Phoenix Saturday night before rotating back to Milwaukee next Tuesday. If things are still knotted up after Game 6, the 2021 NBA campaign will end in the desert on July 22. Normal awaits on the other side—knock wood—but in the meantime, the Bucks’ reclamation efforts may be seen as a microcosm of a chaotic year in which things went from horror to hopeful over the course of a few months. And you don’t have to be a Wisconsinite or an ABC suit to cheer for that.

Chris Paul was the favorite entering Game 4. Now he's behind Antetokounmpo and Devin Booker.

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It wasn’t a buzzer-beater, and it wasn’t the final difference in the 109-103 series-tying Game 4 win for the Bucks. But it was the defining play for Antetokounmpo — for this series and perhaps for his career.

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Devin Booker was on fire, but dealt with foul trouble. Chris Paul struggled to take care of the ball. It all added up to a disappointing Game 4 loss.

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Commentary: Giannis completely changed the course of the Bucks franchise

Kenosha News 16 July, 2021 - 01:11pm

How much can one man change a franchise?

Walk around the sprawling, bustling Deer District in Milwaukee, and you’ll see.

How much can one man change a franchise?

Sit inside the sparkling, three-year old Fiserv Forum and feel the ground quake under you during an NBA Finals game, and you’ll see.

How much can one man change a franchise?

Look around you in the middle of July and see men and women, young and old, dressed head-to-toe in Bucks gear, and you’ll see.

How much can one man change a franchise?

Watch Giannis Antetokounmpo soar in for an unconscionable block from out of nowhere to preserve a lead late in Game 4 of the Finals, then pose along the baseline for a moment to receive thunderous adulation from thousands of the Fiserv faithful.

And, then, you’ll know exactly how much one man can change a franchise.

Fortunate was I, courtesy of a ticket from my incredible wife Bridget, to attend Game 4 on Wednesday night. And let’s just call it that: “Game 4.” Pantheon sporting events need not come with many descriptors. To Wisconsin sports fans, “Game 4” will forevermore be all you need to say in any conversation about Wednesday’s game.

Oh, how far the Bucks have come.

And I don’t mean this season, in which they’re two wins away from their first NBA championship since 1971. I mean how far the franchise has come from what it was not long ago.

There have been a lot of factors behind the Bucks’ incredible turnaround, but it’s all centered around Giannis. That’s all I could think about Wednesday night as I watched the most incredible live sporting event I’ve ever attended.

It certainly wasn’t always this way, not even close.

I flashed back to the many nights I took in Bucks games at the Bradley Center. The team was usually bad, the weather was usually awful and the Bradley Center — even though I liked it more than most — usually felt like some combination between a concrete parking garage and an abandoned airplane hanger, with a few thousand diehards, free-ticket recipients and opposing fans looking on.

There wasn’t much around the arena, either. Other than a stop at Major Goolsby’s — which, thankfully, still remains as one of the holdovers from the old days — you walked through the cold to the Bradley Center and walked right back to your car after the game, usually a loss.

On June 27, 2013, everything changed.

That day, the Bucks selected a gangly 18-year-old from Greece that few knew anything about with the 15th overall pick of the NBA Draft. While his athleticism was intriguing, nobody thought Giannis — regarded as a project at the time — would turn into a two-time MVP and lead the Bucks to a place that nobody thought was ever possible at the moment he was drafted.

Who knows what the future would’ve held for the Bucks if they never drafted Giannis, but without him, there’s no way all of this would’ve happened. The Fiserv Forum, the Deer District, the NBA Finals, soaring merchandise sales, the electric atmosphere, all of it. I’m not saying every bit of this is because of Giannis, but a lot of it sure is.

In terms of comparisons, there’s only one other athlete in Wisconsin sports history who’s precipitated something like this before, and that’s Brett Favre. (In the coaches/administrators category, throw Barry Alvarez in there, too.)

When the Packers traded for Favre, a little-known backup quarterback with the Falcons, prior to the 1992 season, that franchise was going nowhere. Stuck in time and living on the memories of the 1960s glory days of Vince Lombardi, the Packers were an NFL punchline that played in an antiquated stadium in a neighborhood that the NFL had long passed by. They had achieved little success in 25 years, and the team’s very existence going forward could not be certain.

Favre changed all that. Say what you will about him and his eventual ugly divorce with the Packers, but none of what’s happened to the franchise since occurs without Favre’s arrival. Three decades of success, two Super Bowl titles, bunches of playoff wins and division championships, a totally renovated Lambeau Field, a complete makeover of the area around the stadium into a thriving NFL tourist’s paradise — all that started when Favre arrived.

And so it is with Giannis, the Bucks and downtown Milwaukee.

Obviously, the Bucks have not won the title just yet. The Suns are two wins away themselves from their first NBA championship, and they’ll have two of the three possible remaining games in Phoenix.

But whether the Bucks win it all this year or not, the franchise’s upward trajectory is set for years to come as long as they have Giannis, and quite possibly beyond.

I was there for “Game 4,” and I saw how much one man can change a franchise.

Craig and Davis recap Game 3 of this years NBA Finals. 

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USA vs. Australia exhibition canceled; health protocols cited

Sporting News 16 July, 2021 - 01:11pm

The game was scrapped "(o)ut of an abundance of caution," USA Basketball said in a statement. 

Earlier Thursday, Team USA placed guard Bradley Beal in its health and safety protocols. It is not clear whether Beal tested positive for COVID-19. Beal is under quarantine, however, which means he will not play in the Tokyo Olympics.

USA player Jerami Grant is also in the team's health and safety protocols.

Beal, who starred for the Wizards last season, started each of Team USA's first three exhibitions in its pre-Olympics tour. He averaged 10.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists.

The Americans' exhibition Sunday against Spain remains on. That game will be Team USA's final one before it leaves for Tokyo. The U.S. women's team is still on to play Australia on Friday afternoon. Its final exhibition will be Sunday vs. Nigeria.

Extra Points: Visions of Grandiosity

WTMJ 16 July, 2021 - 07:45am

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 06: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks handles the ball in game one of the NBA Finals at Phoenix Suns Arena on July 06, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Bucks 118-105. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

If the Bucks are going to win the NBA Championship, they have to steal a game in Phoenix.

A win this weekend in the desert would create a once in a lifetime event in our city on Tuesday night.

The Bucks would have the chance to clinch the city’s first championship in 50 years on their home floor.

Notice I didn’t say once in a lifetime sporting event.

I said once in a lifetime event.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

The Suns have the same visions of grandiosity.

But as a Bucks fan, it’s hard not to let your mind wander and think about what Tuesday night in Milwaukee would look and feel like.

Take a second. Paint the picture for yourself right now.

That’s what’s up for grabs tomorrow night in Phoenix.

Less than a week from now, there will be a new NBA Champion.

And why not clinch it right here in Milwaukee?

For more than 90 years, WTMJ-AM has been "Wisconsin's Radio Station".

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© 2021 Good Karma Brands Milwaukee, LLC.

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