Giannis named NBA MVP for second straight season

Giannis Antetokounmpo has become the 12th player in NBA to history win back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday morning that the Milwaukee Bucks superstar had edged out the Los Angeles Lakers LeBron James and the Houston Rockets James Harden to take home the coveted award.

Antetokounmpo was dominant for the Bucks in helping them to the best record in the NBA. He averaged a career-best 29.5 points and 13.6 rebounds per game, while his Player Efficiency Rating (31.9) was more than two points higher than the next closest player.

Milwaukee joins Boston and the Lakers in having at least two players win the award multiple times. This is Antetokounmpo’s second year winning, while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won it three times while playing with the Bucks.

However, Antetokounmpo has done something that not even Abdul-Jabbar could accomplish, winning MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. He joins Basketball Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to do it in NBA history.

Giannis Antetokounmpo a unanimous first-team All-NBA pick

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — LeBron James now stands alone in All-NBA recognition history, getting there unanimously.

James was revealed Wednesday as an All-NBA player for a record 16th time, breaking the mark he shared with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. He was a first-team pick on all 100 ballots, joining Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo as the only unanimous first-team selections this season.

Joining them on the first team: Houston guard James Harden, Lakers forward Anthony Davis and Dallas guard Luka Doncic, who got the nod in just his second season in the NBA — becoming the first player to do that since Duncan in 1998-99.

The 21-year-old Doncic is the sixth player to make All-NBA at that age or younger, joining Kevin Durant, James, Duncan, Rick Barry and Max Zaslofsky.

James is a first-team pick for the 13th time in his career, extending his record there. Bryant and Karl Malone were 11-time first-teamers. Antetokounmpo, the reigning MVP and the frontrunner to win the award again this season, was picked unanimously for the second consecutive year.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, Denver center Nikola Jokic, Portland guard Damian Lillard, Oklahoma City guard Chris Paul and Toronto forward Pascal Siakam were on the second team.

The third-team picks were Boston forward Jayson Tatum, Miami forward Jimmy Butler, Utah center Rudy Gobert, Philadelphia guard Ben Simmons and Houston guard Russell Westbrook.

Paul and Westbrook are now nine-time All-NBA players, Harden a six-time choice, Lillard is a five-timer and Antetokounmpo, Leonard and Davis are four-time selections. Butler and Gobert are three-time selections, Jokic a two-time choice and Siakam, Tatum and Simmons all joined Doncic as being on the team for the first time.

Harden and Doncic appeared on all 100 ballots — though only James and Antetokounmpo were unanimous as first-team choices on every ballot. Davis and Jokic were on 99 ballots, and Leonard appeared on 98.

The voting was conducted based on regular-season games played through March 11, and voters had to choose two guards, two forwards and one center for each team. Milwaukee forward Khris Middleton did not make All-NBA even though he appeared on more ballots (60) than Simmons (43) and Westbrook (38); they made the team as guards. Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid got 39 votes and did not make the team either, after finishing fourth among centers.

Middleton led forwards who didn’t make the team in votes, Embiid did the same for centers and Washington’s Bradley Beal (26 votes) did the same for guards.

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With the season done, the future of Giannis Antetokounmpo takes center stage for the Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks saw their season come to an end in disappointing fashion Tuesday night, losing in five games to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Now, the focus shifts to a very important offseason, highlighted by decisions around the future of Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The soon-to-be two-time NBA MVP was forced to watch the final six-plus quarters of the playoffs due to a sprained ankle and some national pundits wondered aloud if we had seen the last of Antetokounmpo in a Milwaukee uniform.

He’s under contract for one more year and he’s actually eligible for the supermax extension when free agency opens in October. Prior to the shutdown, the contract would have been five years and nearly $254 million. The Bucks leadership said earlier this year they plan to offer that to their franchise player, but, according to ESPN, people around the league don’t expect him to sign it.

Still, when he spoke with reporters after the game he didn’t sound like a man ready to leave the only home he’s know since coming to the United States.

“Hopefully, we can learn from this and get better as a team and come back,” Antetokounmpo said. “Hopefully, we can build a culture in Milwaukee that, for many years, we can come out here and compete every single year for a championship.”

If he doesn’t sign it, Milwaukee could still compete for a title next season, but it also opens up the possibility that he leaves next year and they get nothing. The thought of trading him just to get something in return this offseason has been talked about but it would go against everything the franchise has done since it became a contender. Some had also suggested that Antetokounmpo could force the issue himself, demanding a trade the way another superstar — Anthony Davis — did in 2019 to get out of New Orleans.

For his part, Antetokounmpo told Yahoo Sports he would not pull such a maneuver.

“It’s not happening. That’s not happening,” Antetokounmpo told Chris Haynes. “Some see a wall and go in [another direction]. I plow through it. We just have to get better as a team, individually and get right back at it next season.”

Bucks season comes to an end with Game 5 loss to Miami

Milwaukee fought to the last minute but still saw its season come to end Tuesday night in Orlando.

Playing without an injured Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks gave Miami a run before falling 103-94 in Game 5, handing the Heat a 4-1 series victory.

Milwaukee got within four at 91-87 with 2:05 left but could get no closer as the bid for the franchise’s first NBA title since 1971 was thwarted much earlier than anyone expected. The Bucks were the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the second-straight season but failed to get as far as they did a year ago when they made the conference finals.

The second quarter proved to be the Bucks downfall. After taking a nine-point lead into the quarter, Miami outscored Milwaukee 33-18. It was similar to the Game 3 loss where the Bucks blew a 12-point fourth-quarter lead and lost by 15, although they had more time to recover this time and did so. Still, it wasn’t enough as their championship drought reached 49 years.

Antetokounmpo was ruled out before the game with an ankle injury, leaving it up to Khris Middleton and company to extend the season. After scoring 36 in the Game 4 win, Middleton had a game-high 23 points. However, it took him 25 shots to get it and he fouled out in the final minute.

Donte DiVincenzo had 17 points, while Brook Lopez chipped in 15. But as a team, Milwaukee shot just 36.3 percent from the field and a miserable 27.3 percent (9-for-33) on 3-pointers.

Miami didn’t shoot it much better from beyond the arc (35.5 percent), but they did shoot 47.9 percent overall. The only reason the game was close was due to a series-high 21 turnovers.

The Heat were paced by 17 points a piece from Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic. West Allis, Wis. product Tyler Herro had 14 points and Miami was +23 with him on the floor.

Milwaukee’s focus now shifts to the offseason, including difficult questions around the future of Antetokounmpo, and in turn, the franchise.

AP: Bucks hoping to see Antetokounmpo play Game 5 vs. Heat

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — The Milwaukee Bucks will play another day.

They’re waiting to see if reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will join them.

It’s still a dire situation for the team that had the league’s best regular-season record this season — they’re down 3-1 in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Miami Heat, with another win-or-go-home test awaiting in Game 5 on Tuesday night. And they don’t know if Antetokounmpo, who sprained his right ankle in Game 3 and then again in Game 4, will be ready.

“There’s hope,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We’re not ruling him out, so I guess until he’s ruled out you have hope. He’s going to do everything he can to make himself available.”

Antetokounmpo was with the Bucks for their light practice Monday. He got treatment on the ankle, then left wearing a protective boot over his right foot — a standard practice with sprains to keep the injured area from bearing weight.

The Bucks won Game 4 without him for the most part, beating the Heat in overtime. The NBA acknowledged Monday that two fouls should have been called on the Bucks late in regulation, including one that would have put Jimmy Butler on the foul line with 24 seconds left and the Heat leading by a point. Donte DiVincenzo made a free throw on the next Milwaukee possession to force overtime.

“Our veteran players are experienced enough to know how difficult it is to win in the playoffs and how challenging it is just to win one game,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Each game has been like that. There have been these moments of truth and for three straight games we were able to win those moments of truth.”

In Game 4, it was Milwaukee’s turn. And with or without Antetokounmpo, the Bucks still believe they can extend the series.

“Did we put ourselves in a hole? Absolutely,” Milwaukee’s Wesley Matthews said. “Are we going to be punks about it? Absolutely not.”

Giannis out for the rest of Game 4 after re-injuring his ankle

If Milwaukee is going to save its season in Game 4 against Miami, the Bucks are going to do it without Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The superstar re-injured his right ankle in the second quarter of the game and the team announced he was out for the rest of the game. Antetokounmpo first suffered the injury in the Game 3 loss that put the Heat up 3-0 in the series. He tested it out in pregame and it was determined he was healthy enough to go.

It certainly looked like it early, as the presumptive NBA MVP scored 19 points and grabbed four rebounds in just 11 minutes. But early in the second quarter, with Milwaukee trailing by two, Antetokounmpo drove into the lane and stepped awkwardly on his right foot. He crumpled to the ground, letting out a loud yell, clutching his right foot.

Medical personnel and teammates rallied to his side and was eventually helped up by his brother, Thanasis, and George Hill. He got to the bench area before turning around and deciding to shoot his free throws, something that would have allowed him to return to the game if he had been able to. Antetokounmpo made 1 of 2 from the line and then walked back to the locker room for treatment. He was declared out for the rest of the game at halftime.

In his absence, the rest of the roster came to life, outscoring the Heat and taking a 50-48 lead into halftime. Eric Bledsoe had six points, five rebounds and three assists in the first half, while the bench scored 17 points, including eight from George Hill.

Milwaukee is trying to avoid being swept for the first time since the LeBron James-led Heat took them out in the first round in 2014.

Bucks outscored 40-13 in 4th quarter as Miami takes 3-0 series lead

Milwaukee is one loss away from being swept out of the second round of the NBA playoffs.

The Bucks blew a 12-point lead going into the fourth quarter and lost 115-100 to Miami in Game 3 of their best-of-seven series. It leaves the Heat up 3-0, a lead no team has ever blown in NBA playoff history.

Milwaukee’s lead evaporated and then some, with Miami outscoring the Bucks 40-13 in the final period. An Eric Bledsoe free throw with 2:49 left were the only points Milwaukee scored in the final 4:40 of the game. In fact, former Marquette star Jimmy Butler outscored the Bucks by himself in the fourth quarter, 17-13. He finished with a game-high 30 points to put Milwaukee’s season on the brink.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 21 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists, but it wasn’t nearly enough. He shot just 7-for-21 from the floor and missed every 3-pointer (0-for-7) he took. The Bucks were -13 with him on the floor.

Brook Lopez had 22 points to lead the way for Milwaukee, while Khris Middleton scored 18 points. George Hill had 13 points off the bench.

Milwaukee was only 11-for-37 (29.7 percent) from beyond the arc, while Miami hit 18 of the 47 (38.3 percent) 3-pointers it took. That included five from Jae Crowder, including what was essentially the dagger to put Miami up 107-100 in the final minutes. Crowder finished with 17 points, while Bam Adebayo poured in 20 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. West Allis, Wis., product Tyler Herro was in double figures again with 13 points, while also collecting eight rebounds.

The Bucks have not been swept out of the playoffs since 2013 when the LeBron James-led Heat took them out in the first round.

Game 4 is set for Sunday down in the bubble in Orlando.

Bucks lose to Miami again, fall into 0-2 series hole

Milwaukee’s hopes for its first NBA title since 1971 took another hit Wednesday night in Orlando and it did so in agonizing fashion.

After a questionable foul allowed Khris Middleton to hit three free throws to tie the game with 4.3 seconds left, perhaps an even more questionable foul on Giannis Antetokounmpo gave Miami’s Jimmy Butler two free throws with no time left to win it. He hit both, allowing the Heat to hold off the Bucks in a wild 116-114 win, giving them a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Trailing by four entering the final period, Milwaukee took its first since the opening quarter after Middleton hit 2 of 3 from the free throw line and Kyle Korver hit a 3-pointer. But a quick 7-0 run by Miami allowed the Heat to retake the lead.

Things looked lost for the Bucks as they trailed 113-107 with 19.8 seconds left. But an Antetokounmpo dunk, followed by a Brook Lopez steal and layup, cut the lead to two with 8.5 seconds left. Milwaukee fouled Butler and he made just one of the two free throws, giving the Bucks a chance. Middleton pulled up from the left side and released a three that didn’t go but a foul was called on Goran Dragic, setting the stage for the final seconds.

That Milwaukee was even close enough to make it a game was a minor miracle. The Bucks struggled to shoot from the outside, going just 7-for-25 from beyond the arc, while also continuing their propensity to turn the ball over. They had another 14 turnovers after giving it up 19 times in the loss in Game 1.

Miami has now won four of the five matchups between the two teams this year, one of the few organizations with a winning record against the Bucks.

Milwaukee was paced by Antetokounmpo’s 29 points and 14 rebounds, but the Bucks were minus-7 with him on the court. They were minus-14 with him in Game 1, giving him a negative plus/minus in back-to-back games for the first time since the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals.

Middleton had 23 points, eight assists and six rebounds, while Eric Bledsoe chipped in 16 and seven rebounds after missing the first game with a hamstring injury.

George Hill had 14 points off the bench, but the rest of the substitutes combined for just 12.

Two days after going for 40 points, Butler was held to only 13 but the rest of the roster picked him up. That included getting 23 from Goran Dragic and a huge 17 points from West Allis, Wis., product Tyler Herro.

This is the 19th time Milwaukee has fallen down 0-2 in a series. The Bucks have not come back to win any of those.

Game 3 in the NBA bubble is set for Friday night.

Jimmy Butler, Miami sink the Bucks 115-104 to take Game 1

Milwaukee got out to a quick start but couldn’t sustain it in a 115-104 loss to Miami in Game 1 of its second-round NBA series.

The Bucks jumped out to a 40-29 at the end of the first quarter but they managed just 46 points over the next two quarters and trailed by six entering the final period. There, Jimmy Butler and Miami pulled away to take the opening game. The former Marquette star had 15 of his game-high 40 points in the final period.

Coach Mike Budenholzer’s club got standout efforts from Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez in the first half. The two combined for 40 points to help keep Milwaukee up at the break. Giannis Antetokounmpo had nine points, four rebounds and four assists.

After the break, though, Lopez dealt with foul trouble, limiting him to just five points in the second half. Middleton’s shot came up cold, going just 3-for-10 in the third and fourth quarters (12 for 24 overall). He finished with a team-high 28 points.

Antetokounmpo never really got going offensively, taking just 12 shots. He ended up with 18 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists but also turned the ball per a team-high six times. He also really struggled from the free throw line, going only 4-for-12.

In addition to Butler, Miami got 27 points from Goran Dragic and 11 from West Allis, Wis., product Tyler Herro.

Milwaukee played without starting guard Eric Bledsoe. He missed the game with a strained hamstring suffered in Game 5 of the first-round series against Orlando. An important piece of the Bucks defense, Bledsoe was listed as questionable going into the game, so the injury may not be serious.

This is the second straight year Milwaukee lost the first game of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Bucks fell to Boston last season in Game 1 and then ran off four straight victories to advance.

Game 2 is slated for Wednesday night.

Bucks take down Orlando, advance to second round of playoffs

Milwaukee is moving on in the NBA playoffs.

The Bucks led by as many as 21 and ended up beating Orlando 118-104 to take the best-of-seven series 4-1 Saturday afternoon in the NBA bubble.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 22 points in the first half as Milwaukee built a 17-point halftime cushion. He was limited by foul trouble in the second half, finishing with 28 points and 17 rebounds.

With Antetokounmpo saddled with five fouls in the fourth quarter, the Magic made a run, getting within three at 96-93 with 7:39 left. That’s when Marvin Williams came up big, hitting a pair of 3-pointers sandwiched around a Khris Middleton jumper to push it back to a double-digit lead. Williams ended up with 12 points and seven rebounds.

Middleton chipped in 21 points and 10 rebounds and seven assists. Brook Lopez had 16 points and Eric Bledsoe with 10. George Hill added 11 points off the bench.

With the win, Milwaukee punched its ticket to the second round of the playoffs for a second-straight year. There, the Bucks will face the Miami Heat, who took 2 of 3 from Milwaukee in the regular season. Game 1 is slated for Monday.