What should the Miami Heat do next?

Here’s the Sun Sentinel responding to a reader question on if it’s realistic for the Heat to improve their roster this upcoming season while also maintaining salary cap flexibility to pursue Giannis Antetokounmpo the following offseason:

The Heat, without question, will attempt to improve. It’s what they do. Always. It could be player development. It could be through a trade that minimizes 2021-22 payroll impact. It could be forgoing cap space for the 2021 offseason with eyes perhaps instead on a trade (remember, Jimmy Butler was acquired in a sign-and-trade at a stage when the Heat lacked cap space). So, if you are asking whether the Heat will be stuck running in place, the answer is the Heat don’t do the treadmill (unless, of course, it is part of their conditioning program).

Key free agents for the Heat this offseason include Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder. Kelly Olynyk has a player option. Dragic might be open to agreeing to a one-year deal. Olynyk as well. Crowder might be looking for something bigger.

After what the Heat just accomplished, their priority is likely to keep their current core together and strengthen things in an effort to return to the Finals in 2021. That’s a more logical focus than hoping that Giannis, a player on another team, somehow might become available to them in the future.

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.

2019-20 All-NBA teams announced

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James have been unanimously selected to the 2019-20 All-NBA First Team.

James has set the NBA record with his 16th All-NBA Team selection, which includes a record 13 selections to the First Team, two to the Second Team and one to the Third Team. He passed 15-time All-NBA Team selections Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan.

Antetokounmpo, the 2019-20 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and James both received All-NBA First Team votes on all 100 ballots to finish with 500 points each. Named to the All-NBA Team for the fourth time, Antetokounmpo has earned his second First Team honor.

The 2019-20 All-NBA First Team also features Houston Rockets guard James Harden (474 points; 89 First Team votes), Lakers forward-center Anthony Davis (455 points; 79 First Team votes) and Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Dončić (416 points; 59 First Team votes).

Harden and Davis have been voted to the All-NBA First Team for the sixth and fourth time, respectively. Dončić is making his All-NBA Team debut in his second season. He is the first player selected to the All-NBA First Team in either his first or second season since Duncan in 1998-99. Dončić, 21, also becomes the sixth player named to the All-NBA First Team at age 21 or younger, joining Kevin Durant (2009-10), James (2005-06), Duncan (1997-98), Rick Barry (1965-66) and Max Zaslofsky (1946-47).

The 2019-20 All-NBA Second Team consists of LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (372 points), Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić (311), Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (284), Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul (199) and Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (168).

The 2019-20 All-NBA Third Team is composed of Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (153 points), Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (147), Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (110), Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (61) and Rockets guard Russell Westbrook (56).

Siakam, Tatum and Simmons join Dončić as first-time selections to the All-NBA Team. Paul and Westbrook have been voted to the All-NBA Team for the ninth time each. Lillard and Leonard have earned their fifth and fourth All-NBA Team selections, respectively. This marks the third All-NBA Team honor for both Butler and Gobert and the second for Jokić.

The All-NBA Team was selected by a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. Players were awarded five points for each vote to the All-NBA First Team, three points for each vote to the Second Team and one point for each vote to the Third Team. Voters selected two guards, two forwards and one center for each team, choosing players at the position where they play regularly. Players who received votes at multiple positions were slotted at the position where they received the most votes.

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 2019-20 season restart, did not count toward voting for the All-NBA Team or the league’s other traditional end-of-season awards.

Official 2019-20 NBA All-Defensive Teams

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, the 2019-20 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, leads the 2019-20 NBA All-Defensive First Team, the NBA announced today.

Antetokounmpo received 97 NBA All-Defensive First Team votes from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters and earned 195 total points. This marks the second straight NBA All-Defensive First Team selection for Antetokounmpo, who also made the Second Team in 2016-17.

Joining Antetokounmpo on the 2019-20 NBA All-Defensive First Team are Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (187 points; 87 First Team votes), Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (185 points; 88 First Team votes), Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (180 points; 85 First Team votes) and Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (152 points; 57 First Team votes).

Davis, who finished in second place for the 2019-20 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, has been named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for the second time to go with two Second Team honors. This is the fourth consecutive NBA All-Defensive First Team selection for Gobert, the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2017-18 and 2018-19. Smart has been selected to the First Team for the second season in a row. Simmons is a First Team choice in his NBA All-Defensive Team debut.

The 2019-20 NBA All-Defensive Second Team consists of LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (128 points), Bucks center Brook Lopez (67), Miami Heat forward Bam Adebayo (61), Clippers guard Patrick Beverley (60) and Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe (59).

Leonard has been named to the NBA All-Defensive Team (First Team and Second Team) for the sixth time. This is the third NBA All-Defensive Team selection for Beverley and the second for Bledsoe. Adebayo and Lopez join Simmons as first-time selections to the NBA All-Defensive Team.

With the selection of Antetokounmpo to the NBA All-Defensive First Team and Lopez and Bledsoe to the Second Team, the Bucks are the first team to have at least three players named to the NBA All-Defensive Team since the Memphis Grizzlies in 2012-13 (Tony Allen, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol).

Players were awarded two points for each vote to the NBA All-Defensive First Team and one point for each vote to the Second Team. Voters selected two guards, two forwards and one center for each team, choosing players at the position they play regularly. Players who received votes at multiple positions were slotted at the position at which they received the most votes.

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 2019-20 season restart, did not count toward voting for the NBA All-Defensive Team or the league’s other traditional end-of-season awards.

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.

Bucks winning streak reaches 14 games

 

View this post on Instagram

 

 

 

A post shared by Milwaukee Bucks (@bucks) on

The Milwaukee Bucks are on a 14-game winning streak. They’ve won 18 of their last 19 games, with the only loss in that stretch coming on the road in Utah against the Jazz.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the following: “On Friday night at Fiserv Forum, those philosophies met head-to-head as the Bucks and Clippers squared off. Yes, they played a month prior in Los Angeles, but Leonard and George sat out that night. This matchup, then, was understandably hyped as a clash between two teams in the upper echelon of the NBA at full strength for the first time. By the time the final buzzer sounded, a clear and emphatic statement had been made that will be heard league-wide. The Bucks, with contributions from up and down their roster, had orchestrated a devastating masterpiece, trouncing the Clippers, 119-91, for their league-leading 14th win in a row.”

Through Friday’s games, the Bucks have the NBA’s second best offensive rating and the best defensive rating. This is serious.

If the regular season ended today, I’d have to give the league MVP award to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is averaging 30.8 points, 13.1 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks per game.

This squad is must-watch right now.

Next up, a home game on Monday against the Orlando Magic who are a respectable 11-11 so far this season but like everyone else in the league faces an uphill battle slowing this Milwaukee squad down.

Bucks now on 10-game winning streak

The Milwaukee Bucks on Friday beat the Cavaliers in Cleveland 119-10 to extend their winning streak to 10 games.

As usual, Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks, shooting 14 of 26 for 33 points and 12 rebounds, plus two steals and two blocks. George Hill added 18 points and four assists in 22 minutes off the bench.

Khris Middleton, who recently returned from injury, again came off the bench for Milwaukee. It’s likely he will eventually return to the starting lineup.

The Bucks this season are top five in the NBA in both offensive and defensive efficiency.