Jonas Nader

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: Giannis Forces Game 7

Friday, April 27, 2018


Bucks 97, Celtics 86 (Series tied 3-3)

 

With Milwaukee’s season on the line, Giannis Antetokounmpo put the Bucks on his back and delivered a monster 31-point, 14-rebound game to force a Game 7. He added four assists and two steals in 41 minutes, but the Bucks couldn’t buy him much rest as the momentum clearly shifted in Boston’s favor every time he sat. The Greek Freak kept his promise about being more aggressive after attempting just 10 shots for a playoff-low 16 points in Game 5, but the fact that that was considered an off night goes to show just how special he is — he finished one assist shy of a triple-double in that loss.  

 

The Celtics tried to slow him down with several different defenders such as Al Horford, Semi Ojeleye and even Aron Baynes at times, but they ultimately had no answer for him— Giannis’ putback with three minutes to go put the Bucks up by eight points and pretty much ended the game.  

 

Coach Joe Prunty turned to Thon Maker as his starting center with John Henson (back) out for a fourth straight game, and while his final stat line wasn’t great (four points, seven rebounds and one block), Maker impacted a lot of shots at the rim and it’s nice to see the second-year big show some promise after a letdown of a season. He’s averaging nearly three blocks per contest in these playoffs and we should see a lot of him in Game 7 if he can stay out of foul trouble. 

 

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Fresh off a two-point dud, Malcolm Brogdon came to play on Thursday night and finished with 16 points, six rebounds, two assists and a momentum-swinging triple with just over five minutes left that gave the Bucks some breathing room. Khris Middleton has been a superstar in this series and was averaging 25.0 points before Game 6, but was limited to just eight shots. He hit seven of them and had 16 points, but expect the Bucks to get him more touches for Game 7. Eric Bledsoe added nine points and continues to get outplayed by a player that he pretends he doesn’t know (Terry Rozier), while Jabari Parker notched nine points on 10 shots. To Parker’s credit, he scored 16+ points in each of his previous three games and played with a ton of energy, pulling down 11 rebounds on the night. 

 

Milwaukee has to be feeling confident heading into Game 7 on Saturday night in Boston after out-rebounding the Celtics (48-39 in favor of MIL) for the first time this series and outscoring them 25-4 in transition. “In my opinion, the series hasn’t started yet,” Giannis said ahead of Milwaukee's first Game 7 since 2010. 

 

Jayson Tatum paced the Celtics with 22 points, three rebounds, three assists, two steals and two triples on 6-of-14 shooting, a nice bounce-back effort after he was benched down the stretch of Game 5. Al Horford double-doubled with 10 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and a pair of blocks and triples, but obviously struggled at times against Giannis. Jaylen Brown had 14 points, five rebounds, one block and a triple, while Terry Rozier hit 5-of-17 shots for 16 points, seven rebounds, five assists, one steal and four triples. 

 

Marcus Morris was the only other Celtic who scored in double digits with 14 points, while Marcus Smart finished with arguably the most disappointing line of the night. Coach Brad Stevens said before the game that Smart was cleared for up to 35 minutes, but he played just 26 with six points (2-of-9 FGs), two rebounds and one assist. He wasn’t as aggressive on defense and took some ill-advised shots that Boston fans know all too well. He can be a game-changer when he’s locked in, so we’ll see which version of Smart we get in Game 7. 

 

News and Notes around the NBA:

 

Stephen Curry (knee) nearing a return?

 

Warriors general manager Bob Myers said on  Thursday that "it's conceivable" Stephen Curry (knee) plays in Game 1 against the Pelicans, and we learned shortly after that that the two-time MVP went through a full practice. "I think what we have to do is see how his body responds the rest of the day," head coach Steve Kerr said. "[We'll] put him through another practice tomorrow. I think he needs to string together a few good days. But, yeah, it was very positive.” The Warriors will practice again on Friday, but even if Curry gets through that one without any setbacks, Kerr made it sound like he’s another game or two away. For what it’s worth, he’s going to be listed as questionable on the injury report and will be re-evaluated on Friday evening. 

 

 

Hassan Whiteside on the move?

 

Not even a week has passed since Miami was ousted from the playoffs and we already have one of many trade rumors to come for Hassan Whiteside. After playing 32.6 minutes per game in 2016-17 in what was easily his best year in the league, Whiteside played just 25.3 minutes this season and missed 28 games due to injuries. He was already vocal about his lack of playing time heading into the postseason, but he hit an all-time low by playing just 15.4 minutes per game in the first round. He’s expected to discuss his situation with Heat president Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra in the coming days, but even if he demands a trade, moving his contract is going to be extremely difficult — he’s owed $25.4M in 2018-19 and has a $27M player option in 2019-20. If Miami does find an interested team, be prepared to move James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo up your draft boards for 2018-19. 

 

 

Otto Porter’s status for Game 6 in question

 

It’s no secret that Otto Porter (leg contusion) hasn’t been himself in these playoffs, averaging just 10.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.2 steals and 1.0 triples on 48.8% shooting. We got three different updates on Porter on Thursday, but nothing too substantial. Basically, he’s been fighting through a contusion in his lower leg and the soreness has been getting worse. The Wizards listed him as questionable on their latest injury report and coach Scott Brooks wouldn’t commit to him playing, but let’s not kid ourselves, Porter will be on the court with Washington’s season on the line. 

 

 

Mason Plumlee undergoes surgery

 

Mason Plumlee underwent successful surgery to repair a core muscle related injury on Thursday, something that bothered him for the majority of the 2017-18 season. The good news is that he’s expected to resume basketball activities this summer and will be 100 percent for training camp. He averaged 7.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 blocks in 19.5 minutes across 74 appearances. With Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap returning for 2018-19, Plumlee should take on a similar role and won’t be anything more than a deep-league fantasy asset.




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