Giannis Antetokounmpo wins 2019-20 NBA MVP award

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has been named the 2019-20 NBA Most Valuable Player.

This is the second straight NBA MVP Award for Antetokounmpo, who becomes the 12th player to earn the honor in consecutive seasons.

A native of Greece, Antetokounmpo is the first player from Europe to be selected as the NBA MVP more than once. Antetokounmpo, 25, also joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as the only players to win multiple NBA MVP awards by the age of 25.

Antetokounmpo was previously named the 2019-20 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He joins Michael Jordan (1987-88) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1993-94) as the only players to be selected as the NBA Most Valuable Player and the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. (The NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award was first presented in the 1982-83 season.)

Antetokounmpo received 85 of 101 first-place votes and earned 962 total points from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters as well as the NBA Most Valuable Player Award fan vote. Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James received the other 16 first-place votes and finished in second place with 753 points. Houston Rockets guard James Harden (367 points) finished in third place, followed by Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Dončić (200 points) in fourth place and LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (168 points) in fifth place.

Players received 10 points for each first-place vote, seven points for each second-place vote, five points for each third-place vote, three points for each fourth-place vote and one point for each fifth-place vote. The voting was conducted based on regular-season games played through March 11. The seeding games, which were played July 30 – Aug. 14 as part of the season restart, did not count toward voting for the NBA MVP Award or the league’s other traditional end-of-season awards.

In games played through March 11, Antetokounmpo averaged 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.04 steals and 1.02 blocks in 30.9 minutes in 57 games. During that time, he ranked third in the NBA in both scoring average and rebounding average. Antetokounmpo also shot 54.7 percent from the field and sank 83 three-pointers, which is 31 more threes than he made in any of his previous six seasons.

Behind Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee posted an NBA-leading 53-12 record in games played through March 11, a mark that included an 18-game winning streak Nov. 10 – Dec. 14. The four-time NBA All-Star selection helped the Bucks excel on both ends of the court as they led the league in net rating (outscoring opponents by 10.7 points per 100 possessions), scoring offense (118.6 ppg) and defensive rating (101.6 points allowed per 100 possessions) in their first 65 games of the season.

Antetokounmpo was honored as the NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month for October/November, December and January, in addition to being named the NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week four times. He was also voted as a starter to the NBA All-Star Game for the fourth consecutive season, serving as a team captain for the second year in a row.

Down 3-0 in series, Bucks star Giannis speaks on Heat

The Heat are up 3-0 on the Bucks, who had the best regular season record in the league and were favorites in the series. Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting:

As for the state of the Bucks’ mental state, perhaps this from Giannis Antetokounmpo after Game 3 summed it up best:

“Miami is a great team. You know they are going to play hard. They play hard for 48 minutes. To be able to beat them, you have to match that. You can’t play hard for 36 minutes, you can’t play hard for 24 minutes, you have to play hard for 48 minutes to beat a team like that. We knew that coming into this series. They were playing harder than us. We’ve got to play harder and we’ve got to play better. That’s it.”

The Bucks face an incredibly uphill battle in keeping their championship hopes alive.

Heat look good in Game 1 playoff win vs Bucks

The Heat were impressive yesterday, taking a 1-0 series lead against a Bucks squad that was missing starting guard Eric Bledsoe but was otherwise at relatively full strength. Here’s the Miami Herald reporting:

Even before the start of the Miami Heat’s playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks, it had already become a popular take.

The Heat matches up well against the Bucks.

Top-seeded Milwaukee did little to disprove that thinking in an 11-point loss to fifth-seeded Miami on Monday in Game 1 of their second-round series. The Heat is the first team to defeat the Bucks three times this season, as Miami also posted a 2-1 record against Milwaukee in the regular season.

The Heat is one of the most efficient three-point shooting teams in the NBA and the Bucks’ defense allowed the most three-point attempts in the league in the regular season. That’s certainly part of Miami’s perceived matchup advantage, with Game 2 of their best-of-7 series set for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN.

The Bucks rely so heavily on production from Giannis Antetokounmpo that any team that can limit him even a little has a shot to win.

And while Giannis did put up 10 points and nine assists in Game 1, he scored a modest 18 points, and also committed six turnovers. While in the win for the Heat, Jimmy Butler was stellar, scoring 40.

Bledsoe’s status for Game 2 is not yet known.

Giannis Antetokounmpo suspended one game by NBA for headbutting Moritz Wagner

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has been suspended one game without pay for headbutting Washington Wizards center Moritz Wagner during a stoppage in play, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which Antetokounmpo was assessed a Flagrant Foul 2 and ejected, occurred with 8:50 remaining in the second quarter of the Bucks’ 126-113 win over the Wizards on Aug. 11 at Visa Athletic Center on the campus of ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando.

Antetokounmpo will serve his suspension Thursday when Milwaukee faces the Memphis Grizzlies at Visa Athletic Center.

With Jimmy Butler out, Heat fall to Bucks

Playing without Jimmy Butler and getting outscored by 20 points in the 4th against a team like the Bucks is a pretty solid recipe for losing a basketball game. And that’s what the Heat did, falling 130-116 to a Bucks team that has now clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern conference. Here’s the Miami Herald reporting on Butler but also guard Goran Dragic, who missed the game as well:

Butler has now missed two consecutive games. Coach Erik Spoelstra said prior to Thursday’s game there has already been an X-ray and MRI done on Butler’s injured foot, and “at this point, it’s rest and recovery.”

“Jimmy, his foot is sore,” Spoelstra said. “We want to make sure that he’s feeling like he did even a week ago.”

Meanwhile, Dragic limped off the court with 5.2 seconds to play in Tuesday’s victory over the Boston Celtics after landing awkwardly on his left ankle. The Heat announced later that night that an X-ray on his injured ankle returned negative.

“Goran, obviously you saw at the end of the game with a sprained ankle,” Spoelstra said Thursday. “Moving around a lot better, had a really good day yesterday and today of treatment.”

In the win for the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo put up 33 points, 12 rebounds and four assists, though he did commit six turnovers. Khris Middleton also scored 33 points, plus six rebounds and an impressive eight assists. While Brook Lopez added 17 points.

In the loss for the Heat, Duncan Robinson shot well for 21 points, as did Tyler Herro who had 20 off the bench.

Almost every key Nets player will miss Tuesday’s game vs Bucks

The Nets will be without an extraordinary number of players tomorrow in their game against a Bucks team that boasts the best record in the NBA. But somebody has to suit up. Here’s the New York Daily News reporting:

Add Caris LeVert, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen to the Nets’ already lengthy injury report.

LeVert (thigh contusion), Harris (hamstring and back tightness) and Allen, who is out due to “unusual circumstances,” will all sit out when the Nets play the league-best Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.

Reminder: This team is already without Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince and Wilson Chandler. That means against Milwaukee, the Nets will lack their top eight scorers…

The Nets have also yet to make a decision on Jamal Crawford, who has yet to play a scrimmage or a game for the team in the Orlando bubble. Vaughn said the performance team will make a decision Tuesday morning.

They could trot out a starting lineup of Chris Chiozza, Garrett Temple, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Justin Anderson and Rodions Kurucs. All of those players, except the veteran Temple, saw time in the G-League this season.

The Nets are currently in 8th place in the Eastern conference, and as short-handed as they are, it would take a small miracle for the 9th place Wizards — who are also missing star players — to go on a big-enough run to swipe that 8th spot.

Frank Mason III wins 2019-20 G League MVP award

Wisconsin Herd guard Frank Mason III has been named the 2019-20 NBA G League Most Valuable Player, the NBA G League announced today. He earned the honor in a vote by the league’s 28 head coaches and general managers.

Mason (5-11, 190, Kansas), who signed a two-way contract with the Milwaukee Bucks last July, averaged an NBA G League-high 26.4 points, 5.0 assists and 3.4 rebounds in 23 games with the Herd. Wisconsin went 18-5 with Mason in the lineup and finished with the league’s best record (33-10).

Mason shot 50.4 percent from the field, 42.5 percent from three-point range and 81.5 percent from the free throw line, joining the Fort Wayne Mad Ants’ Stephan Hicks as the only players in the NBA G League to record a 50/40/80 shooting season in 2019-20.

A 2019-20 Midseason All-NBA G League Team selection, Mason registered seven games with at least 30 points. He scored a season-high 44 points against the Grand Rapids Drive on Feb. 19 and followed that performance by finishing with 36 points (on 14-of-17 shooting from the field) against the Drive on Feb. 23. In his second-to-last NBA G League game of the season, he made 16-of-18 shots from the field and had 35 points against the Delaware Blue Coats on Feb. 27.

This season marked Mason’s first action in the NBA G League after spending two seasons with the Sacramento Kings, who selected him with the 34th pick in NBA Draft 2017 presented by State Farm. He was the 2016-17 consensus National Player of the Year as a senior at Kansas.

In his NBA career, Mason has averaged 6.5 points and 2.5 assists in 96 games with the Kings and Bucks. He has appeared in six games for Milwaukee this season.

Herd guard Jaylen Adams and Maine Red Claws guard Tremont Waters finished second and third, respectively, in voting for the 2019-20 NBA G League Most Valuable Player Award.

The NBA G League canceled the remainder of its 2019-20 season on June 4. The regular season was suspended on March 12 and had been scheduled to conclude on March 28.

Bucks staying ready in case season continues, says coach

The Bucks spent the 2019-20 season as winners, and per this ESPN.com report, their head coach says the team has no interest in breaking that mentality:

While some might speculate that the NBA season will not resume because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Milwaukee Bucks, who had the league’s best record when play stopped, are going forward as if they will eventually be on the court.

“We are operating and functioning and just have a mentality that we will play,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Wednesday during a conference call. “I think it’s important for players and all of us to function that way, to think that way, and it’s out of our hands.

“Luckily, [commissioner] Adam Silver and the league office, they’ll make the hard decisions and they’ll do what’s best for everybody, but I think it’s certainly important that we kind of operate and have a mentality that we will play again, and we’ll be excited about that if and when it does happen.”

There is no downside to these guys staying ready.

Unfortunately, for now, there’s no reason to expect action to resume anytime soon.

Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon okay to play Sunday vs Bucks

Sunday at 7 p.m. ET, the Indiana Pacers hit the road for a trip to Milwaukee. It’s an especially big game for Pacers point guard Malcolm Brogdon, whose first three NBA seasons were with the Bucks. But this summer came big money and a nice role with the Pacers, so Brogdon got himself a new squad, and it’s actually worked out well for both teams.

As for Brogdon’s health status, here’s the Indianapolis Star reporting:

Malcolm Brogdon will take the taped-up fingers on his right hand if it means he can be on the court for his Milwaukee homecoming on Sunday.

After the Pacers starting point guard dislocated his right pinkie and tore a ligament in it earlier this month, he’s been forced to wear surgical tape stabilizing it with his right ring finger, and the traditionally laser-focused Brogdon said it’s been giving him fits on the court the past two weeks.

“It’s definitely something I notice when I’m on the court, but I feel like I’ve been able to do the best I can with it,” he said. “People here have been playing with all types of injuries that the media or other people don’t know about. It’s just something minor.”

The game is worth watching. Even as the Pacers continue to await the eventual return of start shooting guard Victor Oladipo.

 

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Anthony Davis will play in Lakers vs Bucks game tonight

The biggest game of the NBA season so far is the Lakers vs Bucks matchup on TNT at 8 p.m. ET tonight. Both teams are 24-4, and are the current favorites, if you had to make a prediction today, to reach the 2020 NBA Finals.

While the Bucks are without injured guard Eric Bledsoe, the Lakers will have forward Anthony Davis in action, said the team this evening.

Per ESPN.com, “Davis did not play in the Lakers’ loss at Indiana on Tuesday due to the mild ankle sprain. It was the second game Davis has missed this season. He is leading the team in points (27.4), rebounds (9.3) and blocks (2.6) per game.”

It’s a must-watch game. Tune in.