BASKETBALL – Bucks and Warriors punch tickets through to second round of the Game

The incumbent champion Milwaukee Bucks finished their series against the Chicago Bulls with a 116-100 triumph on Wednesday, completing the series 4-1.

The Bulls’ situation was made even more difficult when standout Zach LaVine and defensive ace Alex Caruso were ruled out due to health and safety rules.

Milwaukee led 34-18 at the end of the first quarter, and they went on to win the second and third quarters to maintain a 20-point lead throughout the game.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 33 points on 11-of-15 shooting and 11-of-14 from the free throw line.

Jrue Holiday was solid at point guard, handing up nine assists to go with his 10 points and five rebounds, and Bobby Portis was a force inside, scoring 14 points and grabbing 17 rebounds.

DeMar DeRozan was underwhelming for the Bulls in a must-win game, finishing with 10 points and seven assists while only attempting 10 field goals in 42 minutes.

Patrick Williams, an intriguing second-year forward, led Chicago in scoring with 23 points on nine-of-13 shooting, including four-of-seven from deep range, while Nikola Vucevic had 19 points, 16 rebounds, and six assists.

The Bucks will now face the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, with Game 1 scheduled for this weekend.

The Warriors beat the Nuggets with a fresh starting lineup.

The Golden State Warriors had to fight back against the Denver Nuggets, winning 102-98 to close off the series 4-1 with a new-look starting five.

Stephen Curry made his first start after returning from a foot injury, and he was joined by Jordan Poole and Klay Thompson.

The Dubs, on the other hand, left it late, chipping away at an eight-point deficit from the previous change before a Gary Payton II three-pointer gave them the ultimate lead with seven minutes remaining.

Golden State will now face the winner of the Memphis Grizzlies vs. Minnesota Timberwolves game, in which the Grizzlies lead 3-2.

 

Booker may be able to recover from a hamstring injury in time to face the Pelicans.

Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns is close to returning from a hamstring injury and could play in Game 6 against the New Orleans Pelicans, or Game 7 if necessary.

Booker, 25, will almost certainly be nominated to the All-NBA First Team after averaging 26 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game while leading the Suns to a 56-12 record in 68 regular-season games.

He played 41 minutes in Phoenix’s Game 1 victory over the Pelicans, but strained his hamstring in the third quarter of Game 2, despite scoring 31 points in the first half.

In his absence, the Suns lost Games 2 and 4, before rallying to win Game 5 at home, taking a 3-2 lead.

Booker is “progressing toward a return soon, with the possibility as soon as Game 6 or Game 7,” according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Despite being a genuine game-time decision, Booker is expected to be designated as out of Game 6 unless he confirms his fitness.

 

Oladipo is still “racing through it” after leading the Heat to a series victory.

The Miami Heat’s injury-plagued star Victor Oladipo pondered on the difference a year can make as he rallied the Miami Heat to the victory they needed to wrap up their first-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.

Oladipo has had a bad run in the NBA, appearing in only 96 of a possible 309 regular-season games over the last four years due to knee and quadriceps ailments.

Oladipo had only appeared in eight regular-season games for the Heat this season, but with Kyle Lowry (hamstring) and Jimmy Butler (right knee inflammation) both out for Game 5, he stepped up to lead the Heat to a 97-94 victory and a 4-1 series victory.

Oladipo led all scorers with 23 points, three assists, and three steals. It was the first time he has scored 20 points in a postseason game since playing against the Heat in the NBA playoffs for the Indiana Pacers in 2020.

After the game, Oladipo reminisced on his experience, saying, according to ESPN, “A year ago today, I was expecting and waiting for my next surgery.”

“A year ago today, around this time last year, I was sitting alone in a dark room and just broke down.”

“Not because I quit, but because I was at my lowest point.” And now that God has placed me in this situation, all I have to do is make the best of it.

“I could have done one of two things.” I had the option of stopping. Or I could have run straight through it, which I am now doing.”

Oladipo told NBA TV that he believes this is just the beginning for him.

“There is nothing I can’t manage,” he declared. “At the end of the day, I feel like I can come back and finish whatever I started.”

“So, when they told me I had to start tonight, I just stood up and did everything I could to help my team win.”

“I thank my coaching staff and teammates for believing in me, as well as my family and God in heaven, for getting me through.” “This is merely the beginning.”

The Heat’s performance was a true team effort, with Max Strus scoring 15 points, including a unique personal 10-0 streak from 2:29 in the second quarter to 1:22.

Bam Adebayo added 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting and 11 rebounds to his total.

“Everyone who participated had their fingerprints on this. We certainly had some hardship in this game since we didn’t have Kyle or Jimmy, and our group didn’t even flinch,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

“That’s not even an issue we have to deal with. We simply pivot and implement the game plan, and everyone gets ready, tapes their ankles, and goes out there to compete.”

The Heat will now face either the Philadelphia 76ers or the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, with the former leading the latter 3-2 in their series.

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