Giannis Antetokounmpo is unstoppable.
The Bucks superstar tore through the Celtics offensively and smothered them defensively in Milwaukee’s 123-116 Game 3 win Friday. Antetokounmpo’s stat line – 32 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, three blocks and two steals – is matched in a playoff game by only Ralph Sampson in the Basketball-Reference database, which has full data since 1984.
Antetokounmpo often left Boston helplessly fouling him. He attempted 22 free throws, most by anyone in a game the last two postseasons.
After the Celtics stunned them with a 22-point Game 1 win in Milwaukee, the Bucks have seized momentum in this second-round series. Milwaukee won Game 2 by 21 and held a 15-point lead with three minutes left before ceding a late run tonight.
Teams with home-court advantage leading a best-of-seven series 2-1 have won it 88% of the time. Boston will try to reduce its disadvantage in Game 4 Monday, but even a win would only even the series with Milwaukee at home in Game 5 and, if necessary, Game 7.
As great as Antetokounmpo was tonight, the Bucks played Boston even while he sat thanks to huge contributions from George Hill (21 points on 9-of-12 shooting) and Pat Connaughton (14 points on 4-of-9 3-point shooting). Milwaukee broke open the game with a 12-0 run late in the third quarter that mostly occurred while Antetokounmpo rested.
Kyrie Irving (29 points on 8-of-22 shooting) got his points, but the Celtics’ offense too often stagnated late.
Still, this was a well-played game overall. Both teams moved well offensively, and keeping up, defensively. Both made 40% of their 3-pointers. Both had a deep pool of players contribute.
But only one had Antetokounmpo.
I’ve been looking all day for an excuse to post this video on a site called ProBasketballTalk.
Jazz center Rudy Gobert – who just won Defensive Player of the Year – provided it.
Everyone frets about young basketball players emulating Stephen Curry. But Patrick Beverley apparently also has influence.
The Knicks will reportedly roll over their cap space if they don’t sign Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or Kawhi Leonard this summer.
Of course, New York must still field a team for 2019-20. After six straight losing seasons – including a franchise-worst 17-65 this season – the Knicks might even want to be somewhat competitive.
A candidate to fill the roster: DeMarcus Cousins.
Marc Stein of The New York Times:
If the Knicks are intent keeping cap space clear for 2020 (when the free-agent class looks weak) if they strike out this year, Cousins could make sense. His shot-creation skills would raise their floor. He was a star not long ago.
But leg injuries have sidetracked Cousins’ career. He’ll turn 29 before the season. It’s not certain he’ll ever return to form.
For that reason, Cousins might prioritize multi-year offers with more total compensation, even if the annual average salary is lower. He can’t assume he’ll stay healthy and productive next season and that huge offers will follow in 2020.
Of course, Cousins might not get those multi-year offers this summer. That’s why a one-year deal in New York could work for him. It’d be another chance to improve his stock, much like his season with the Warriors was supposed to provide.
I doubt either the Knicks or Cousins want this. New York prefers better players. Cousins surely desires a larger long-term deal. But they might have to settle for each other.
Kevin Durant‘s company moved its office to New York. He could follow, to the Nets or Knicks, in free agency.
Maybe he’s already on the way?
Neal J. Leitereg of the Los Angeles Times:
Kevin Durant has wrapped up some business in Malibu, selling his oceanfront home on Broad Beach for $12.15 million.
Accounting for real estate commissions and other fees, the sale comes out as a bit of a wash for the 10-time all-star. He bought the place last year for $12.05 million, The Times previously reported in April.
Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report:
sources familiar with Durant’s off-court business say Durant has since purchased a new home in New York and moved his belongings there.
Many NBA players spend their offseasons in Southern California. I’m not sure what to make of Durant selling his house there. This isn’t Durant selling his condo in San Francisco, where the Warriors will open a new arena next season.
Buying a place in New York would be more significant, but a player buying a house in a city where he could sign is a classic rumor. It often gets spread whether or not it’s true. I’m skeptical of the sourcing here.
But if Durant no longer plans to play in California, it could make more sense to sell his Malibu home. Of course, he could buy another house near Los Angeles. We just know he sold this specific place on Broad Beach. We can’t extrapolate with certainty.
And Durant could buy a house in New York for the offseason. He might want to be closer to his company in the summer. That doesn’t mean he’ll play for New York or Brooklyn.
So, I’d nudge the odds of Durant leaving Golden State for the Nets or Knicks slightly higher based on this information. But I wouldn’t overreact to it.
The Nets will officially trade Allen Crabbe to Hawks in July.
In the meantime, he faces a legal issue.
we’re told he blew a .08 — which is EXACTLY the legal limit in California … so Crabbe was arrested and booked for misdemeanor Driving Under the Influence.
If convicted of drunk driving, Crabbe would likely receive a two-game suspension – the NBA’s standard punishment for that crime. But considering he appears to complete the field-sobriety test OK, breathalyzers have questionable reliability and his blood alcohol concentration tested relatively low, Crabbe has a chance to beat the charge.