Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said he is baffled by the antics of Canadian rapper and Toronto Raptors fan Drake during the Eastern Conference Finals.

Award-winning artist Drake has been an ever-present courtside in Toronto, where the Raptors levelled the NBA playoff series at 2-2 on Tuesday.

Drake trolled Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo during Toronto's 120-102 victory by laughing as the MVP candidate missed free throws, while he was seen rubbing Raptors coach Nick Nurse's shoulders.

His antics angered Octagon Basketball Europe senior director Georgios Dimitropoulos, who used to be Antetokounmpo's European agent and tweeted he had "never seen anything as disrespectful as this before" before deleting the post.

Budenholzer was asked about Drake on Wednesday and he told reporters: "I will say, again, I see it in some timeouts, but I don't know of any person that's attending the game that isn't a participant in the game a coach -- I'm sorry, a player or a coach, that has access to the court.

"I don't know how much he's on the court. It sounds like you guys are saying it's more than I realise. There's certainly no place for fans and, you know, whatever it is exactly that Drake is for the Toronto Raptors.

"To be on the court, there's boundaries and lines for a reason, and like I said, the league is usually pretty good at being on top of stuff like that."

Asked if was looking to speak to the league about addressing Drake, Budenholzer said: "I haven't checked in with our organisation.

"I do think there's a lot of things that coaches have got to do, and there's other things, [general manager] Jon Horst and the front office and those guys, they are on top of all that kind of stuff. They do a really good job for us, and I think if it needs to be addressed from an organisational standpoint, it will be and they will share it with me.

"But as of now, there's nothing for me, there's nothing I know of from our organisation. And certainly the fans and owners and employees, and there's so many lines; I guess Drake crosses all of them and ticks a lot of boxes. The NBA is usually on top of that stuff."

Meanwhile, Nurse was quizzed on the shoulder rub midweek and the Raptors boss played it down ahead of Game 5 in Milwaukee on Thursday.

"I didn't even know I got the shoulder rub last night until somebody showed me a picture of it today," he said. "I didn't even feel it. I was so locked into the game."

Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard is "feeling good" heading into Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, insisted head coach Nick Nurse.

Leonard appeared to injure his leg after finishing a layup in the first half of the Raptors' Game 3 overtime win over the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals.

However, Leonard remained in the game – playing 52 minutes – and followed that up with 34 minutes of action in Toronto's 120-102 Game 4 victory on Tuesday, which tied the NBA playoff series at 2-2.  

Nurse and the Raptors are not worried about Leonard's fitness ahead of Thursday's clash in Milwaukee.

"He's feeling good," Nurse told reporters on Wednesday. "No concerns at this point. He's good."

Leonard has been terrific for Toronto against the Bucks. He is averaging 29.3 points and shooting 46.1 per cent from the field through the first four games of the series.

OG Anunoby, meanwhile, has been sidelined since undergoing an emergency appendectomy in mid-April.

Nurse said the 21-year-old forward is still out indefinitely.

"OG does not have a timetable for coming back," Nurse added. "He is being more active every day. … He's moving pretty good, he's shooting, etc., but still a ways away from being able to take hits and contact in the areas that he needs to test out."

Anunoby averaged 7.0 points and 2.9 rebounds in 20.2 minutes per game in 2018-19. He is a versatile defender capable of guarding multiple positions, as well.

Nurse also revealed Raptors guard Kyle Lowry has been playing through a hand injury.

"It's hurt and it's sore and it causes him a lot of pain," Nurse said. "But he seems to be able to manage it through the game and do what he can do.

"He's obviously scoring and playing great on top of the other things he always does, and we're really showing a heck of a lot of toughness and again, the spirit that he just wants to be out there and help his team any way he can."

Kevin Durant's former team-mate Kendrick Perkins said "don't be surprised" if the Golden State Warriors star joins the Los Angeles Clippers.

Durant is expected to become a free agent after the NBA season and the two-time champion has widely been linked to the New York Knicks.

But Durant's friend and former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Perkins believers the Clippers are a contender to add the 10-time All-Star and two-time NBA Finals MVP.

"Don't be surprised if KD signs with the Clippers," Perkins told FS1. "Everybody keeps screaming New York but do not be surprised if KD signs [with Los Angeles]."

The New York Times also reported earlier this week the "Clippers have emerged as an equally dangerous threat to the Knicks to sign Durant away from Golden State".

Perkins, who played with Durant in Oklahoma City from 2011-15, said his former team-mate has been impressed by Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.

Rivers coached Perkins in Boston and the pair won a championship together with the Celtics in 2007-08.

"I don't need to help recruit [Durant to play for Rivers]," Perkins said. "He likes the organisation. He likes Doc Rivers. He loves Doc Rivers."

Durant has not played since straining his calf in Golden State's Game 5 win over the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semi-finals.

The Warriors went on to close out Houston in six games before sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals.

Durant has averaged 26 points and 6.4 rebounds for the Warriors this season.

Two-time reigning champions Golden State will play the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals. The series is tied at 2-2 heading into Game 5 on Thursday.

 

MVP candidate and Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was named on the NBA All-Defensive First Team on Wednesday.

The selection, made by a global panel of 100 sports writers and broadcasters, was announced by the league, with Antetokounmpo joined by team-mate Eric Bledsoe.

Giannis had 193 points – including 94 First Team votes – while Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert received 196 points, the most of any player in the NBA.

Marcus Smart and Paul George, along with Bledsoe, completed the First Team.

Antetokounmpo, Gobert and George are all also finalists for the 2018-19 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

Jrue Holiday, Klay Thompson, Joel Embiid, Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard made the Second Team.

Terry Stotts received a multi-year contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers in part because of his success developing young players.

News of the extension was revealed on Tuesday as the Blazers went through their exit interviews following the 4-0 series defeat to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

Confirming the news, general manager Neil Olshey told reporters: "We win every year. But it goes beyond just wins and losses. It's alignment. It's partnership. It's knowing the organisation is moving forward.

"It's a commitment to a longer-term view, that there are priorities beyond just the next game.

"We still have one of the youngest rosters in the league. Every [player] who has come through here has gotten better. At heart, you're hiring a coach to be a teacher.

"As we see the league get younger, there's such a value placed — especially in a market like Portland, where we can't always buy our way out of trouble — on developing our young players and finding reclamation projects and developing them.

"I don't know that anybody has had as much success as this staff in second-round picks panning out, guys who have flamed out elsewhere becoming contributors and integral players. That consistency is important."

Former Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks coach Stotts took over the Blazers in 2012. They have made the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons and won 50 games or more three times.

"I'm pleased with the season," Stotts said. "I'm pleased we came to an agreement. I'm very happy here. I'm happy with the team.

"It was probably the most enjoyable year I've had as a head coach as far as the group of guys we had. We've gone through peaks and valleys over my tenure. This is another peak. I couldn't be more happy things have turned out the way we have.

"I never thought I was going to get another opportunity as a head coach. Neil plucked me out and gave me the opportunity. To be here seven years later is remarkable. I have a lot of gratitude for everyone who has helped make that possible."

The Trail Blazers are also expected to give All-Star point guard Damian Lillard a supermax extension this offseason, stretching out his deal to six years.

Giannis Antetokounmpo insisted there is no pressure on the Milwaukee Bucks despite allowing the Toronto Raptors to tie their Eastern Conference Finals series on Tuesday.

The Bucks held a 2-0 lead after the opening pair of games in Milwaukee, but Toronto - after a thrilling double overtime win in Game 3 - levelled the series at 2-2 with a 120-102 victory at Scotiabank Arena in Game 4.

Milwaukee trailed by 10 points at the half and were unable to overturn that deficit, with Antetokounmpo blaming a poor third quarter for their inability to produce a turnaround.

"Obviously I think we started aggressive, in the third quarter we came out flat," Antetokounmpo said. 

"It's something we can get better at, something we can fix, it's something that we've been doing all season.

"Usually in the third quarter we come out and we're aggressive, making shots, moving the ball but we weren't able to do it.

"But at the end of the day we're not going to lose our confidence, hopefully when we get back home we can execute better in the third quarter and the whole game."

Performing in the third will be pivotal for the Bucks not only in this series but also if they do make it to the NBA Finals, where a Golden State Warriors team renowned for game-changing third-quarter runs will be the opposition.

But Antetokounmpo does not believe there is any extra burden on the Bucks after this loss, adding: "There's no pressure, obviously we've got to take care of [our] home [matches], it's our job but I don't think there's pressure. We've just to go out there and have fun, play good basketball, be us, and try to win.

"Just got to play with more energy, execute better, but our feeling is the same, doesn't change, they did their job. They protected home and we've got to do our job now.

"Got to give them credit, obviously they are doing a great job defensively, helping one another, closing the drive lanes, using their hands in the passing lanes but we've got to execute better, got to take better care of the ball.

"We've been playing good basketball the whole year, if you lose one or two games it's not the end of the world."

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet credited the birth of his second child for helping him return to form after the worst shooting slump of his playoff career, as they levelled the Eastern Conference Finals with the Milwaukee Bucks.

VanVleet flew to Illinois on Monday to witness the birth of his son Fred Jr, before hurrying back to Toronto for the Raptors' 120-102 Game 4 victory over the Bucks, which tied the series at 2-2.

The 25-year-old went seven for 44 and three for 25 from three-point range since the start of the Conference semi-finals with the Philadelphia 76ers.

However, in Game 4 he went five for six shooting and nailed all of his three-point attempts as he, Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka added 48 points from the bench.

"It makes you tired," VanVleet said of the arrival of his second child. "It gives you a little perspective, I guess, on life.

"I had a lot of time to think. Had to sit at the hospital all day, had a lot of time to think, obviously a plane ride back.

"It just changes the way you're looking at things. You are not so down on yourself about everything."

The bench's performance took the strain off Kawhi Leonard, with Toronto able to level things up despite the former San Antonio Spurs star tallying just 19 points after racking up 36 in their Game 3 win.

"We know we have to be better," VanVleet added. "We see all the stuff. We understand what the narrative has turned into, that it is kind of 'Kawhi Leonard and The Backup Singers.'

"We understand that. Sometimes it has been like that, and there's other stuff that goes into that. There's give and take there. But we have to do the same s*** again in Game 5."

The Raptors are aiming to make the Finals for the first time in franchise history, with defending champions the Golden State Warriors awaiting the winner of the series.

Leonard said of the production his team-mates delivered: "It was big time. Everybody contributed, knocking down shots, playing great defense.

"[I] feel good. Keep going, keep fighting. We have a chance to make history."

The Toronto Raptors are putting together a quality run in the NBA playoffs.

Toronto's 120-102 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday tied the Eastern Conference Finals at 2-2.

Here are three takeaways from the Raptors' second consecutive win.

 

Toronto are learning not to rely on Kawhi Leonard

Leonard suffered an apparent leg injury in the Raptors' Game 3 victory and he lacked aggression in Game 4.

The Raptors star scored 19 points on six-of-13 shooting. Before Tuesday, he had not attempted fewer than 18 shots in the series against the Bucks. Leonard has only attempted fewer than 13 shots once in the postseason so far – against the Orlando Magic in the first round.

However, Milwaukee continued to double team Leonard, and his decoy role helped Toronto's bench explode for 48 points. The Raptors role players cannot be afraid to shoot the ball down the stretch if they want to advance to the NBA Finals, so this could be a blessing in disguise.

Kyle Lowry is in attack mode 

Lowry needs to assert himself early and often for the Raptors, and he did just that.

The point guard was the most important part of Toronto's offense, as he shot a perfect 10-of-10 from the free-throw line and recorded a team-high 25 points.

When Lowry is scoring on all three levels and bringing his usual peskiness on the defensive end, he gives the Raptors their best chance to come out on top.

Milwaukee need to convert free throws

The Bucks lost by 18 points, and they left nine at the free-throw line.

Milwaukee only attempted one fewer free throw than the opposition, but shot an underwhelming 65.4 per cent to Toronto's 88.9.

Giannis Antetokounmpo missed four of his 10 attempts from the line, and he will likely shoot plenty more moving forward as the centerpiece of the Bucks' offense.

Getting back in Fiserv Forum could help Milwaukee's struggles, though.

Game 5 will take place in Milwaukee on Thursday.

The Toronto Raptors levelled the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.

Toronto topped Milwaukee 120-102 to knot the series up at 2-2 and they got help from everywhere.

Six Raptors were double-digit scorers. Kyle Lowry led the way with 25 points while Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka were essential bench contributors.

Kawhi Leonard still showcased his authority in the paint despite battling an apparent leg injury. He was also able to lean on the support of his team-mates.

Toronto's bench outscored Milwaukee's 48-23.

Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo combined for 55 points on 62.5 per cent shooting for Milwaukee.

But six of the Bucks' players shot less than 40 per cent from the floor, which did not help Milwaukee's two All-Stars.

Toronto are out of the 0-2 hole they dug themselves to start the series. Now, they have a chance to win on the road in Milwaukee on Thursday.

Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant is not sure where he will be playing next season, according to his manager.

The 30-year-old, who is expected to become a free agent this offseason, has widely been linked to the Knicks and one rumour surfaced earlier this week that said he already had a handshake deal in place with New York.

But, Durant's manager, Rich Kleiman, said on Tuesday that was not the case.

"That is 100 per cent undecided," Kleiman said at the Wall Street Journal Future of Everything Festival.

"I'm waiting on Kevin. That's the truth. I think there's a feeling that this thing is like war games and everybody is playing chess years out. But, when somebody gets to the level of basketball that he's at, you can't juggle focus like that. There's so many things he's juggling. He's not scripting his future while he's playing the way he plays and practices the way he practices.

"I think it's frustrating, honestly, at times. But, I get it. I do get it … He really doesn't know and I really don't know."

Durant has not played since straining his calf in Golden State's Game 5 win over the Rockets in the second round.

The Warriors went on to close out Houston in six games before sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals.

"His health is good," Kleiman said. "When you have an injury that's real, and it's a real injury, for him, he's got to be Kevin Durant. He has about the highest pain threshold of someone I know, so, when he misses time, it's because the injury is real. It's a real injury and I hope we can see him next week, or two weeks from now."

The 10-time All-Star has won a pair of NBA titles, along with two Finals MVP awards, since he joined Golden State before 2016-17. He averaged 26 points and 6.4 rebounds for Golden State this season.

Golden State will play the winner of the series between the Bucks and Toronto Raptors for the championship. Milwaukee hold a 2-1 lead in that matchup heading into Game 4 on Tuesday.

John Beilein believes he has a great opportunity with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Beilein explained his decision to leave Michigan after 12 seasons to become the next coach of Cleveland at his introductory news conference on Tuesday.

"I left the greatest university in the world, a place that was special to [wife] Kathleen and I and our entire family to come to some place I think was equally as special," Beilein told reporters.

"I see a lot of the potential and the high, high ceiling with the Cavs organisation that I saw at the University of Michigan.

"I love the young roster. I love the draft picks and the potential we have for flexibility now and in the future. I texted Kathleen as we were interviewing a potential candidates at the combine and I just texted her, 'I love this'. I love being a part of this."

Beilein led the Wolverines to the NCAA Tournament nine times and reached the championship game twice during his time at the school.

But, he will take over a Cavaliers team that had much less success last season.

Cleveland were one of the worst teams in the NBA in 2018-19 and finished with a 19-63 record.

"Every single time that we've decided to do this, some people would say with every job, and probably with this one, 'What are you crazy? Why are you doing that?' And I say exactly that, opportunity and challenges go hand in hand," Beilein said.

"So, when we can be in these situations, it's so gratifying [to] turn a program [around].

"Rebuild is not a word we're going to use here, I saw it more as a renaissance. Look at all those banners up there. It's been done before. Why can't it be done again?"

The Cavaliers hold the fifth pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Draymond Green thinks the Golden State Warriors will need Kevin Durant to win another championship.

Golden State managed to complete a sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals even though Durant was sidelined with a calf strain.

Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins also missed the series as he continues to recover from a torn left quadriceps muscle.

But Green is eager for Durant to make his return, saying he made the Warriors unstoppable.

"There's been so much talk about how, 'Oh, they're the Warriors. Before Kevin got there, they were great.' Bull****," Green told ESPN.

"We was damn good. I think we were a very good team who was tough to beat. I think when Kevin came here, he made us unbeatable. When DeMarcus [Cousins] came here, it made people scratch their head even more.

“So, we need those guys. The next series is going to be tough, and I hope and pray that we can get [Durant] back."

Durant has not played since injuring his calf in Golden State's Game 5 win over the Houston Rockets in the second round.

The Warriors went on to close out Houston in six games before winning four straight against Portland. Andre Iguodala also missed Game 4 against the Trail Blazers with a leg injury.

"Our goal is obviously to get all three of those guys back," Green said.

"We know we're a good team with who we have, but those guys make us great and almost unbeatable. And we know we need [Durant]."

The Warriors will be playing for their third straight championship and fourth title in five seasons. Their lone finals loss during that stretch came to the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games in 2015-16. Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder and signed with Golden State that offseason.

Golden State will face the winner of the series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors for the title.

Milwaukee hold a 2-1 lead in that matchup heading into Game 4 on Tuesday.

Dallas Mavericks swing man Luka Doncic and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young were unanimously selected to the 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie first team on Tuesday.

The pair were named on all 100 ballots from a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.

Doncic, who turned 20 in February, averaged 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game this season. Young, who also is only 20, averaged 19.1 points and 8.1 assists with 3.7 rebounds per game.

The All-Rookie first team was a mirror of the top five picks in the 2018 NBA Draft, as Doncic (drafted third overall) and Young (fifth) were joined by Phoenix Suns center and No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton, Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III (second) and Memphis Grizzlies forward-center Jaren Jackson Jr. (fourth).

Doncic, Young and Ayton are the finalists for the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year award.  The winner will be revealed June 24 at the 2019 NBA Awards in Los Angeles.

This marks the first time since the 1984-85 season that the top five picks in the previous NBA Draft were selected to the NBA All-Rookie first team. Thirty-four years ago, that NBA All-Rookie first team was Hakeem Olajuwon (No. 1 pick in 1984), Sam Bowie (No. 2), Michael Jordan (No. 3), Sam Perkins (No. 4) and Charles Barkley (No. 5).

The 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie second team consists of Los Angeles Clippers guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton, New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson and Hawks guard Kevin Huerter.

Steve Kerr hopes the Golden State Warriors' fifth consecutive NBA Finals appearance does not go "unnoticed or underrated" as he emphasised the difficultly of the achievement.

Two-time reigning champions Golden State outlasted the Portland Trail Blazers 119-117 in overtime to claim a 4-0 series sweep in the Western Conference Finals.

With Monday's victory in Portland, the Warriors became the first team since the Boston Celtics in 1966 to reach five successive finals, and head coach Kerr hailed the feat.

"I hope it doesn't go unnoticed or underrated," Kerr told reporters. "Five straight finals hasn't been done since the 60s, since Bill Russell's Celtics. It hasn't been done for a reason: It's really, really difficult.

"I just can't say enough about the competitive desire of the group of players that we have here and the culture that they have built together. Playing together regardless of injury. Being without Kevin [Durant] these last five games has put us in a really tough spot and our guys stepped up in a big way.

"A couple years back, we were without Steph [Curry] for over a two-year period, I think he missed like 12 playoff games we won nine of them. So, the group has a fibre to them; where guys go down, they find a way to come together and compete and win.

"It starts defensively. If you can defend at a high level in the playoffs, you always have a chance. But I just think the experience of winning titles helps you in these moments and it helps you continue to move forward and come away with victories like tonight."

It was a historic night for the Warriors as Stephen Curry and Draymond Green became the first team-mates in playoff history to both record triple-doubles in the same game.

Curry posted 37 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, while Green had 18 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists to see the Warriors through to a showdown against the Milwaukee Bucks or Toronto Raptors.

"They have been playing pick-and-roll together for five years, more than that, seven years and Draymond is an amazing playmaker and Steph is so lethal, he's going to draw a lot of attention," Kerr added.

"They have a lot of knack for working the pick-and-roll together, finding openings and then attacking. They are both great passers, as well.

"They are fun to watch. They are kind of made for each other from a basketball standpoint. You know, they have been doing this for a long time, so they have got a real feel for each other."

The Golden State Warriors became the first team since the Boston Celtics in 1966 to reach five consecutive NBA Finals.

Two-time reigning champions Golden State completed a 4-0 Western Conference Finals series sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers thanks to Monday's 119-117 overtime victory.

The Warriors are just the second team in league history to accomplish the feat, joining the Celtics – who reached the Finals in 10 straight years from 1957-66.

Golden State will be playing for their third successive championship and fourth title during the stretch.

The Warriors' lone Finals loss came to the Cleveland Cavaliers after seven games in 2015-16.

Golden State will face the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors.

Milwaukee hold a 2-1 lead in that matchup heading into Game 4 on Tuesday.

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