PHOENIX, Arizona (Diya TV) — After falling to a 2-0 deficit early in the series, the Milwaukee Bucks have won their third straight game against the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix got off to a raging start in the first quarter, creating a 16 point lead within 12 minutes of the start. However, the Bucks responded accordingly in the second quarter, outscoring the Suns 43-24 to lead at halftime. They only expanded this lead in the third quarter, and despite a rallying Suns’ comeback in the fourth, the Bucks snagged a win in the Suns’ home court.
After a slow first quarter, the Bucks pushed back in the second quarter, led by Jrue Holiday’s 14 points. In fact, Holiday had a marvelous game with 27 points and 13 assists. More than half of Jrue’s points came in the second quarter, but according to Mike Budenholzer, that wasn’t where he shone most. Budenholzer commented about Holiday, “[It’s] his ability to impact the ball, just make everybody uncomfortable. You never know when he might get a steal, get a deflection.” In fact, with 18 seconds left in the game and the Bucks leading 120-119, he stripped the ball from Devin Booker and alley-ooped it to Giannis. This widened the Bucks lead and just about wiped any chance for a Suns comeback.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had a killer night as well, with 32 points and 9 rebounds. Despite being below average at the free-throw line, a repercussion of playing on the road, he had 5 offensive rebounds, giving the Bucks a chance to make many second-chance points. And the Bucks’ other main scorer, Khris Middleton, came through as well with a whopping 29 points. The evenness of scoring on the Bucks allowed each of them to rest and come in the game refreshed without a complete loss of the lead. On these same lines, Middleton remarked, “We have lineups that are in rhythm and making runs, and he [coach] kind of lets us ride. Oftentimes Giannis is in the game for those runs, but it just shows that we’ve got a true team and we have Giannis’ back just like he has our back.”
The Suns’ early first quarter start was picturesque. A field goal percentage of 73.7% and a 3-point percentage of 83.3% propelled them to a 16 point lead to conclude the quarter. However, it all came crashing and burning in the second quarter, with percentages of 35.7% and 33.3% respectively. This comparison illustrated the Suns’ game tonight: stunted and choppy, while lacking prolonged momentum. DeAndre Ayton described it aptly, “It felt a little on and off.”
Devin Booker had 40+ points for the second night in the row. Despite scoring 10+ points in every quarter but 1, the Suns were unable to make up deficits and come back when needed. His support was lackluster, with Chris Paul putting up 21 and Ayton putting up 10. Indeed, Chris Paul has not scored above 30 since the first game of the series. A lot of that can be attributed to the Bucks’ defense, which was ever-prevalent in today’s game. However, it can also be attributed to ball movement, which was lacking — as seen by the scoring discrepancy in the Suns’ lineup.. Monty Williams, the Suns’ coach, stated, “[T]o make that defense work we got to move it around and in order to beat this team that’s what you got to do.”
Finally, Phoenix’s foul trouble has been a recurring problem for them throughout the series, and today was no less. Devin Booker and Chris Paul had 5 fouls apiece, each one away from fouling out. Their aggression, especially in the fourth quarter, translated to these fouls. This made it harder for them to gain momentum and wipe out the Bucks; it stunts their game.
As we approach Games 6 and 7, chatter about the Finals MVP has arisen. If the Bucks win, it will most likely be given to Giannis, who has had killer nights each game (except Game 1). He has been the Bucks’ rock throughout this entire season. On the Suns’ side, however, the situation is a bit more complex. Devin Booker is definitely in the lead, with back-to-back 40 game points and immense scoring. However, if Chris Paul and DeAndre Ayton work wonders in Games 6 (and possibly 7), they could be thrust into contention.
Looking ahead at Game 6, the series could not be more tight. The Bucks won on the Suns’ home court, giving them a slight advantage heading into the game. With a 3-2 lead, Milwaukee only has to win 1 game out of the 2 remaining. They’ll hope to do that at home in Game 6, where they are undefeated this series and overall stronger. If they bring the championship home, it will be the second time in the playoffs where they’ve come back after a 2-0 deficit. The Suns, on the other hand, have to win 2 straight games to get the title, a big shift from their 2-0 lead earlier in the series. They haven’t lost 3 in a row since January, so their handling of this immense pressure is yet to be seen. Game 6 will be on Tuesday at 6 PT/9 ET.
India Rising puts forth valiant effort in loss to Boeheim’s Army in TBT
SYRACUSE (Diya TV) — With The Basketball Tournament commencing, most eyes have been set on Boeheim’s Army and their path to repeating as champions. However, their first match provided an opponent true to its name: India Rising.
While one may look at the 90-62 score and disregard the India Rising squad, when watching the game, the team did truly give Boeheim’s Army a run for their money in the first half. Facing a team full of guys who played under one of the greatest basketball coaches ever, Jim Boeheim, India Rising jumped out to an early 5-0 lead and was able to keep pace with Boeheim’s Army for a substantial amount of time. Most people may have written them off early but they kept fighting. They had a clear cut goal to bring attention to basketball players of Indian descent by pulling off a cinderella win and carve a path for themselves. It is clear that they put in their full effort to try and realize those goals.
In the second half, Boeheim’s army was able to pull away but India Rising had made their message clear: Indian ballers should not be overlooked. The box score does not paint the real picture of how much heart, determination, and grit India Rising displayed to get more recognition. General manager Gautam Kapur and head coach Ajay Sharma have done an excellent job overseeing the initiative and giving the best Indian hoopers a chance to shine on a big stage.
In a 64 team tournament, India Rising stood out and gave a near-professional squad a tough time. For what this team set out to achieve, no heads should be hung low. India Rising should be getting the recognition they so rightfully deserve.
Warriors win Game 5 at home, now just one game away from the title
SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) —The Golden State Warriors are just one win away from their fourth title in eight years. The Dubs returned home and overpowered the Boston Celtics 104-94 to take a 3-2 series lead, even though Stephen Curry only scored 16. Infact, Curry did not make a single three, a first in the last 3.5 years. Andrew Wiggins on the other hand matched Tatum while scoring a team-high 26 points and added 13 rebounds, including the dagger dunk to finish off Boston.
Draymond Green saw glimpses of a turnaround game as he was very close to a triple double before fouling out for the 3rd time in this series. Klay Thompson made a great contribution on the offensive end with 21 points, on the third anniversary of his horrific injury in the finals against the Cavaliers in 2019 . The Warriors trio of Curry, Thompson and Green were able to cement themselves even further with their 20th Finals win together, the most of any trio over the past 30 years.
The Celtics saw franchise star Jayson Tatum have a better game scoring wise than the last game with a team-high 27 points. But while Tatum showed up for game 5, Jaylen Brown did not. When both of those players are on at the same time, the Celtics can light it up. However, there has been inconsistency from both throughout the Finals. The C’s will need both guys to be on for them to fend off the Dubs and force a Game 7.
The Warriors can close out the series and add a 7th ring to their collection with a win on Thursday in the hostile environment of TD Garden. A collective team effort would do the trick as in Game 4, Curry shouldered the load while the rest of his supporting cast did the same for him. The Celtics will look to put forth their best effort of the season in a final effort to keep their season alive. It could very well come down to if both Tatum and Brown can prove they can be a dynamic duo on the biggest stage.
Warriors seal Game 4 victory with an epic Steph Curry performance, tie series 2-2
BOSTON (Diya TV) — The Warriors, seal Game 4 victory with a vintage Stephen Curry performance, evened up the NBA Finals in an absolute thriller, winning 107-97.
The start of the game saw both teams match each other pound for pound with Boston ultimately taking the first quarter by a single point. There were notions before the game about Curry having a foot sprain, but he quickly laid those doubts to rest. He began to heat up in the first quarter (and talked some trash along the way). Conversely, Draymond Green continued his finals performance with more fouls than points. Robert Williams III showed off his skills as a rim protector on defense, which was a missing piece for the Celtics up until the point of Williams’ return. In the first half, Curry and Jayson Tatum battled against each other in classic star matchup fashion with Curry scoring 19 and Tatum going for 16. Tatum was money from beyond the arc (made 3 out of his 4 three-point attempts), just like he’s been all Finals as he’s been shooting 48% on 3’s.
The officiating in the first half was questionable, especially in the second quarter when Payton Pritchard clearly traveled and yet a foul was called instead. This set off Warriors HC Steve Kerr and his temper led to him getting a technical foul. For a non-call to be that egregious and then to double down by giving Kerr the technical foul is asinine and something that certainly sparked controversy. Attention was also brought to the Celtics free throw attempts versus the Warriors (15 and 5 respectively) even with both teams attacking the basket often. Despite this disparity, the Warriors were able to keep it within 5 at the end of the half.
More Curry magic continued in the second half with him carrying the team on his back, in essence. 43 points highlight the stat line but when watching the game, it was clear as day that he was really the only dependable source of scoring throughout the ballgame for the Dubs. With 7 threes made tonight, we saw the greatest shooter in league history go to work and will his team to victory. In the biggest stage of basketball, Curry made his mark once again.
The Celtics now face a daunting Game 5 heading to San Francisco. Winning both games on their home court would have all but sealed a championship for them. But now, the door has not only creaked, but swung wide open. The #1 defense in the NBA will gameplan to try and find answers for Curry. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will be facing a challenging environment in Chase Center, but one they are familiar with.
Meanwhile, the Warriors will look to capitalize off the momentum and adrenaline this win has given them. Off the heels of a classic performance, Curry will try to carry on his titanium-strong Finals MVP case. Draymond Green, coming back to friendly faces in San Francisco, will try to turn around an awful stretch. This series is shaping up to be a dramatic one with both teams trading blows. Game 5 should deliver more popcorn-worthy entertainment, especially if Stephen Curry is involved.
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