The Milwaukee Bucks' players delivered a powerful statement calling for change in the United States after their boycott.

All three NBA playoff games on Wednesday were postponed amid protests following the shooting of Jacob Blake in the United States.

The decision was taken after the Bucks made the call to boycott Game 5 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series against the Magic.

In a statement read by Sterling Brown and George Hill on behalf of the players, the Bucks demanded change and accountability after police shot Blake.

"The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African-American communities. Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings," they said.

"Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we've seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha and the additional shooting of protesters. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action so our focus today cannot be on basketball.

"When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, to give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We hold ourselves to that standard and in this moment we are demanding the same from law makers and law enforcement.

"We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable. For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin state legislator to reconvene after months of inaction and take the meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform.

"We encourage all citizens to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action and remember to vote on November 3rd."

The Bucks lead their series against Orlando 3-1, but the season is reportedly in jeopardy as players demand change amid protests against police brutality and racial injustice in the USA.

The Milwaukee Bucks' owners backed the players' decision to boycott their NBA playoff clash against the Orlando Magic.

All three NBA playoff games on Wednesday were postponed amid protests following the shooting of Jacob Blake in the United States.

The decision was taken after the Bucks made the call to boycott Game 5 of their first-round playoff series against the Magic.

Bucks owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan supported the players, although acknowledged they were unaware of the plans.

"We fully support our players and the decision they made," a statement from the owners read.

"Although we did not know beforehand, we would have wholeheartedly agreed with them.

"The only way to bring about change is to shine a light on the racial injustices that are happening in front of us.

"Our players have done that and we will continue to stand alongside them and demand accountability and change."

The Bucks lead their series against Orlando 3-1, but the season is reportedly in jeopardy as players demand change amid protests against police brutality and racial injustice in the USA.

Los Angeles Lakers president Jeanie Buss expressed her full support for NBA players after Wednesday's playoff games were postponed amid protests against racial injustice in the United States.

The top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks made the call to boycott Game 5 of their first-round Eastern Conference series against the Orlando Magic midweek following the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Milwaukee had the chance to seal their spot in the second round of the postseason, but opted to sit out at Walt Disney World Resort after Blake, a black man, was repeatedly shot in the back by police in Wisconsin.

The decision was then taken for all three midweek games to be postponed – the Los Angeles Lakers' Western Conference showdown against the Portland Trail Blazers and the Houston Rockets-Oklahoma City Thunder clash.

The 2019-20 season, being played behind closed doors in Orlando, Florida amid the coronavirus pandemic, is now reportedly in jeopardy as players voice their displeasure in the ongoing fight for justice.

But Lakers boss Buss tweeted: "I was excited to see us play - and hopefully close out our series - tonight. But I stand behind our players, today and always.

"After more than 400 years of cruelty, racism and injustice, we all need to work together to say enough is enough. #JusticeForJacobBlake #WeHearYou."

The Magic, meanwhile, also released a statement after sitting out alongside the Bucks in the east.

"Today we stand united with the NBA Office, the National Basketball Players Association, the Milwaukee Bucks and the rest of the league condemning bigotry, racial injustice and the unwarranted use of violence by police against people of colour," the Magic said.

All three NBA playoff games on Wednesday were postponed amid protests following the shooting of Jacob Blake in the United States.

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has been named NBA Defensive Player of the Year for the first time.

Antetokounmpo claimed the award by a landslide, with 75 of the 100 sportswriters and broadcasters who voted selecting the Greek giant.

The 25-year-old is only the fifth player to land both the NBA MVP and the NBA Defensive Player of the Year gongs in his career.

Antetokounmpo, the 2018-19 MVP, was informed he had won the award by Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer after he scored 31 points in a 121-106 Game 4 playoff win over the Orlando Magic on Monday.

He said: "Usually when coach wants to talk to us after a game, somebody messed up or somebody did something. So, in my head, I'm like, 'okay.' I'm looking around like, 'Who did something?' Because I know I didn't do nothing."

Antetokounmpo added: "At the end of the day, when you go out there and compete and when you have guys behind you and next to you that compete as hard, awards like this can come.

"What I get from this is that you have to win. You have to do whatever it takes every day to go out there and put yourself in a position, put your team in a position to win, and good things are going to happen, and everything is going to take care of itself."

Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and Kevin Garnett are the other four to have won the NBA MVP and the NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards.

The Bucks lead the Magic 3-1 in the first round of the playoffs and can seal their place in the Eastern Conference semi-finals with a victory on Wednesday.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks cruised into 3-1 series leads in the NBA playoffs on Monday.

The Lakers made it three straight wins over the Portland Trail Blazers with a 135-115 victory, taking a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference first-round series.

LeBron James produced a huge performance with a double-double of 30 points and 10 assists for the Lakers.

Anthony Davis posted 18 points before exiting due to back spasms, while Kyle Kuzma contributed 18 off the bench.

While Jusuf Nurkic had a double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds, the Trail Blazers lost star Damian Lillard (11 points) to a knee injury.

The Bucks grabbed a 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series against the Orlando Magic thanks to a 121-106 win.

Giannis Antetokounmpo unsurprisingly led Milwaukee with a double-double of 31 points and 15 rebounds, plus eight assists.

Khris Middleton struggled from the field, going seven-of-19, but still finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

 

Dynamic Dragic sees Miami through, Thunder draw level

Goran Dragic had a team-high 23 points as the Miami Heat completed a 4-0 series sweep of the Indiana Pacers courtesy of a 99-87 win.

Miami were also led by Bam Adebayo, who finished with 14 points, 19 rebounds and six assists.

The Western Conference first-round series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets is locked at 2-2. Dennis Schroder had 30 points off the bench as the Thunder won Game 4 117-114.

Thunder forward Shai Gilgeous-Alexander managed a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds.

The Rockets were beaten despite a fine performance by James Harden, who had 32 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds.

 

Bad Brogdon

Indiana are out of the playoffs and Malcolm Brogdon struggled for the Pacers, going five-of-16 from the field in Game 4. The guard finished with 13 points in 40 minutes.

 

LeBron from range

James hit a three-pointer from just over half-court in the Lakers' win.

Monday's results

Milwaukee Bucks 121-106 Orlando Magic
Oklahoma City Thunder 117-114 Houston Rockets
Miami Heat 99-87 Indiana Pacers
Los Angeles Lakers 135-115 Portland Trail Blazers

 

Mavericks face Clippers

Luka Doncic inspired the Dallas Mavericks to draw level in their series with the Los Angeles Clippers. The crucial Game 5 of the Western Conference first-round series is on Tuesday.

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT 

 

Celebrating CPL, digitally

I am extremely impressed with the Caribbean Premier League and Digicel for the work that they have put in to ensure that cricket fans enjoy the sport they love amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The CPL experience has come alive and is available at home on television or on-the-go via the SportsMax app.  

The T20 competition has started with a bang and, despite the pause on cricket due to the pandemic, the players have dusted off the rust and has been competitive and entertaining for the fans at home. The reviews, comments, and debates on social media have been encouraging. Fans are deeply appreciative of the work that has gone into ensuring the tournament is a success. 

As a Trinbago Knight Riders fan since the start of this CPL season, Sunil Narine has impressed me. His blistering knock, which sent the Knight Riders to the top of the table, was a sight for sore eyes. Two back-to-back scores of 50 and 3 wickets in two games – very impressive! CPL continues to deliver! 

 

Sevilla has the Europa League recipe for success! 

After winning the Europa League for a sixth time, without a doubt, Sevilla has the key for success. Diego Carlos' overhead kick deflected in off Romelu Lukaku 16 minutes from time, to beat Inter Milan 3-2 in a thrilling final in Cologne. Not even the coronavirus could stop Sevilla's love affair with the Europa League. 

“It's incredible. We had such tough games, I think, the whole tournament but we played so well as a team, and you could see it during the tournament. We were really a team, like a family,” Sevilla forward Luuk de Jong said, after scoring with two headers. 

 Sevilla won it. They won it in 2006, 2007, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2020. Six adorned the T-shirts that they had made.  Congrats Sevilla! 

 

 The Milwaukee Bucks with Giannis is a force! 

The Milwaukee Bucks had a topsy-turvy start to the playoffs. However, things are falling into place for them. They won games 2 and 3 comfortably and it was all due to the reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. What is clear is the Greek Freak has improved with each passing season and established himself as one of the best players in the NBA.  

Antetokounmpo joins Kareem Abdul- Jabbar as the only Bucks players with a 20-point, 20-rebound game in the playoffs. Abdul-Jabbar did it 18 times with the Bucks. It has been 49 years since the Bucks won an NBA Championship.  Can Giannis Antetokounmpo bring a championship to Milwaukee Bucks?  That is the biggest question this season! 

 

 

 

LeBron James inspired the Los Angeles Lakers to a 116-108 win and 2-1 series lead over the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA playoffs.

James erupted for 38 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists as the top-seeded Lakers trumped the Trail Blazers in Game 3 of their Western Conference first-round series on Saturday.

At age 35, James became the oldest player to reach both 38 points and eight assists in a playoff game, surpassing Michael Jordan (34 in 1997), per STATS.

James moved second on the all-time list for playoff wins with 158, leapfrogging Tim Duncan and closing in on Derek Fisher (161), while the three-time NBA champion climbed up to third on the all-time list for three-points made in the playoffs (375).

Anthony Davis contributed his own double-double of 29 points and 11 rebounds as the Lakers benefited from a 40-point third quarter to see off eighth seeds the Trail Blazers in Orlando, Florida.

Damian Lillard's 34 points were not enough for the Trail Blazers, while CJ McCollum (28) and Carmelo Anthony (20) also impressed at Walt Disney World Resort.

 

Giannis fuels Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for the Milwaukee Bucks, who earned a 2-1 series lead against the Orlando Magic in their Eastern Conference opening-round matchup. The reigning MVP had 35 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in a 121-107 triumph. Antetokounmpo was 12 of 14 from the field.

Dennis Schroder (29 points), Chris Paul (26), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (23) and Danilo Gallinari (20) all impressed as the Oklahoma City Thunder outlasted the Houston Rockets 119-107 in overtime. Oklahoma City avoided falling 3-0 behind in the Western Conference series. The Thunder outscored the Rockets 15-3 in OT.

James Harden scored a game-high 38 points, but the Rockets still lost. He fouled out 53 seconds into overtime.

Malcolm Brogdon starred with playoff highs of 34 points and 14 assists. However, the Indiana Pacers were beaten 124-115 by the Miami Heat, who lead the Eastern Conference series 3-0.

Jimmy Butler's 27 points and a Bam Adebayo double-double (22 points and 11 rebounds) put the Heat on the cusp of a series sweep.

 

Lakers struggle from the line

While the Lakers won, they were far from convincing at the free-throw line. The Lakers were just 65.1 per cent from the line, compared to Portland's 94.7 per cent. Davis – who missed four of his first five attempts – was seven of 14 and James 12 of 17.

 

Harden with the euro step

The Rockets guard weaved his way past two opponents en route to the rim.

 

Saturday's results

Los Angeles Lakers 116-108 Portland Trail Blazers
Oklahoma City Thunder 119-107 Houston Rockets (OT)
Miami Heat 124-115 Indiana Pacers
Milwaukee Bucks 121-107 Orlando Magic

 

Raptors face Nets

Defending champions the Toronto Raptors can seal a series sweep against the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference on Sunday. The Philadelphia 76ers, meanwhile, will look to avoid a 4-0 whitewash in their matchup with the Boston Celtics.

Giannis Antetokounmpo said the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks have adopted the tag of "underdogs", despite claiming a series lead over the Orlando Magic in the NBA playoffs.

Antetokounmpo's double-double helped the Bucks defeat the Magic 121-107 in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference first-round matchup in Orlando on Saturday.

The reigning MVP posted 35 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists as the Bucks earned a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series at Walt Disney World Resort, where Milwaukee were stunned in Game 1.

Milwaukee – eyeing their first championship since 1971 – are one of the favourites to win the title, but Antetokounmpo and the Bucks are playing with a different mindset.

"We have high confidence about ourselves," Antetokounmpo said post-game. "We believe in ourselves, our team, our game plan and coach.

"But not the end of the day, we're not the champions… if you don't go out there and take it or if you don't play with a chip on your shoulder and play hard every second, it's not going to happen. That's life. There's no way to work around it.

"For me and for the team, we're gonna go out there and play hard. "We're not gonna play like the favourites, we're gonna play like the underdogs. From now on, that's how we're gonna be. If we make it till then, great. If we don't, that doesn't matter. We're gonna be ourselves."

"I think we're all hard on ourselves," Antetokounmpo told reporters. "But basketball isn't what you did in the past or what you're going to do in the future. It's about what you're doing right now.

"That's my whole mindset, my whole life. Right now, we played good. Hopefully we can carry this onto the next game. Play good defence, keep playing together and playing good basketball."

It was a physical battle between the Bucks and eighth seeds the Magic following a second-quarter scuffle involving Milwaukee's Marvin Williams and Orlando forward James Ennis.

Both players were ejected after exchanging shoves.

The Bucks, though, were not to be stopped after leading 70-43 at half-time and by as many as 34 points in the third period.

"I was just trying to play hard," said Antetokounmpo, who went 12 of 14 from the field in 31 minutes.

"Obviously it was an early game today, we played at 1 p.m., [when] usually we're not as focused, when the game starts, we're kind of a little bit lazy. I was trying to set the tone, play hard, guard my guy, take that individual challenge with my guy, trying to be active. I was just trying to be all over the place."

"There's going to be times that I'm not going to play well, and Khris [Middleton] is going to carry the team," Antetokounmpo continued. "There's going to be times when we're both not going to play well, and Brook and Bled are going to carry the team.

"Khris is really important to this team, obviously. I can say it. Coach can say it, the team. Everybody knows that."

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer added: "All of us feed off of Giannis and his leadership and his energy and his competitiveness. I think when he's showing it and sharing it with all of us, toughing all of us, it's great. He's our leader. We needed it."

Game 4 between the Bucks and Magic is on Monday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo says the Milwaukee Bucks did not have a fear factor as they drew level in their playoff series against the Orlando Magic but conceded there was an urgency about the team.

The Bucks were shocked in Game 1 of the series when Nikola Vucevic's 35 points inspired the Magic to a 122-110 triumph in the NBA's Orlando bubble.

Vucevic was a thorn in the Bucks' side again on Thursday, finishing with 32 points and 10 rebounds, but it was a quiet night from his Magic team-mates as Milwaukee ran out 111-96 victors.

Antetokounmpo was typically influential and in scoring 28 points and picking up 20 rebounds he became just the second Bucks player after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to have a 20-point, 20-rebound game in the playoffs.

The 25-year-old said defeat would not have been fatal to the Bucks but recognised the team was extra focused not to go two games down in the series.

"There's an urgency. I'm not going to say there's a fear factor – being down – but you know you have to be urgent," he said.

"I think the whole team was ready for this game. You've got to understand, you don't want to be down 2-0.

"We can still get back, but you don't want to put yourself in that position, especially early in the playoffs.

"We knew that we had to come out and just play hard, try to get a win, and as a team, we knew for us to get a win we gotta play hard.

"We cannot talk about it; we gotta play about it."

Antetokounmpo added that a message from head coach Mike Budenholzer also elicited a response from the Bucks.

"He told us if we want to win and if we want to go far and if we want to be us, we've got to play defense, and we didn't do that in the first game," Antetokounmpo said.

"I think everybody took that personally. Nobody liked that. Nobody wants to hear that he's not playing hard enough, so I think the whole team came out playing hard. Everybody was playing hard."

The Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks drew level in their respective NBA playoff series on Thursday.

Coming off surprise Game 1 losses, the Lakers and Bucks responded against the Portland Trail Blazers and Orlando Magic respectively.

The Lakers drew level at 1-1 in their Western Conference first-round meeting with the Trail Blazers courtesy of a 111-88 win.

Anthony Davis posted a double-double of 31 points and 11 rebounds as the Lakers won their first playoff game since 2012.

While Davis went 13-of-21 from the field, LeBron James was below his best, but still managed 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

Red-hot Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard had 18 points, but the guard was one-of-seven from three-point range.

In the Eastern Conference, the Bucks are back to 1-1 against Orlando after a 111-96 victory.

Giannis Antetokounmpo lifted Milwaukee with 28 points and 20 rebounds, while Brook Lopez had 20 points.

Harden guides Rockets as Robinson shines for Heat

James Harden had 21 points and nine assists as the Houston Rockets took a 2-0 series lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder courtesy of a 111-98 win.

Danuel House Jr. contributed 19 points, nine rebounds and three assists for the Rockets.

Duncan Robinson was in impressive form as the Miami Heat went 2-0 up against the Indiana Pacers thanks to a 109-100 win. Robinson was seven-of-eight from three-point range for 24 points in 25 minutes.

Heat star Goran Dragic posted 20 points.

 

Miserable Melo

Carmelo Anthony struggled badly for Portland. He was one-of-six for just two points in 26 minutes.

 

Davis delights

Davis showed his class during the Lakers' series-levelling win.

Thursday's results

Miami Heat 109-100 Indiana Pacers
Houston Rockets 111-98 Oklahoma City Thunder
Milwaukee Bucks 111-96 Orlando Magic
Los Angeles Lakers 111-88 Portland Trail Blazers

 

Clippers face Mavericks

With their Western Conference first-round series locked at 1-1, the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks do battle in Game 3 on Friday.

Nikola Vucevic insisted the Orlando Magic were unfazed about being given little chance against the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA playoffs.

Orlando upset the Bucks 122-110 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series on Tuesday.

The Magic last won a playoff series in 2010 and were huge outsiders against the Bucks, who are considered one of the championship favourites.

Vucevic posted 35 points, 14 rebounds and four assists in Game 1 and said Orlando were unworried about being written off.

"We don't care what other people have to say. We focus on ourselves and we came out and played a great game on both ends of the floor," he told reporters.

"Defensively, I thought we did a very good job on a lot of stuff they did, but obviously our main focus was try to make it hard on Giannis [Antetokounmpo], to protect the paint and we did that as a team. Gary [Clark] did a great job fighting him and we were able to help and then also we had to get out the shooters after that.

"A lot of times we had to scramble and it wasn't always perfect, but we figured it out. Offensively, I thought we played one of our best games all year long, just moving the ball, executing, being patient, playing off what the defense gives you and we were able to make a lot of big shots also throughout the whole game.

"At the end, came up with a huge victory but again it's just one game and we've got to move on from this one."

Milwaukee will look to draw level in the series in Game 2 on Thursday.

Vucevic expects a huge response from the Bucks, who finished the regular season with a 56-17 record.

"We're going to have to take it to another level. They're going to respond after Game 1 for sure," he said.

"They're going to come out ready and we're going to have to be ready for that and we're going to have to prepare, be ready for their adjustments and as the game goes on in Game 2 adjust to those as well.

"Each game in the playoffs is a whole new game, and we have to forget about this one, put it behind us, learn from what worked and what didn't and be prepared for the second one.

"Obviously they're a great team, we know that, we expect a great response and we have to prepare for that."

It was a day of upsets in the NBA playoffs as the eighth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers and Orlando Magic upstaged the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks respectively.

Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers powered past top seeds the Lakers 100-93 in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series on Tuesday, while the Magic stunned the Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Bucks 122-110 in their Eastern Conference opener.

It is the second time in NBA postseason history that both eighth seeds have beaten the top seeds in Game 1, per STATS. The other occasion was in 2003, when the Magic and Phoenix Suns trumped the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs.

Lillard maintained his red-hot form with 34 points to inspire the Trail Blazers at Walt Disney World Resort, where Trail Blazers team-mates CJ McCollum (21 points) and Carmelo Anthony (11 points and 10 rebounds) made solid contributions in Orlando, Florida.

LeBron James' triple-double of 23 points, 17 rebounds and 16 assists were not enough as the Lakers superstar (12-2) lost for just the second time in the opening game of a first-round matchup.

The Magic – without a playoff series win since 2010 – did not follow the script as they took down the Bucks thanks to Nikola Vucevic's big night.

Vucevic had a playoff career-high 35 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Magic past the Bucks, who swept the season series by winning four games by an average of 17 points.

A double-double of 31 points and 17 rebounds from reigning MVP Antetokounmpo was not enough to lift the Bucks – eyeing their first championship since 1971.

 

Harden launches Rockets, Butler's Heat cool Pacers

No Russell Westbrook, no problem for the Houston Rockets. In the absence of the injured star, James Harden posted 37 points and 11 rebounds as the Rockets – seeded fourth in the west – soared past the Oklahoma City Thunder 123-108 in their series opener. Houston made 20 three-pointers.

Danilo Gallinari matched a playoff career-high with 29 points for the fifth-seeded Thunder. Chris Paul recorded 20 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists against his former team. Steven Adams put up 17 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double.

Jimmy Butler fuelled the Miami Heat's 113-101 victory over the fourth-seeded Indiana Pacers in Game 1. Butler had 28 points, including two big three-pointers in the final quarter. Goran Dragic added 24 points, while Bam Adebayo (17 points and 10 rebounds) finished with a double-double.

 

Oladipo adds to Pacers' defeat

Pacers star Victor Oladipo is day-to-day after injuring his left eye against the Heat. Oladipo was inadvertently poked in the eye by Miami's Jae Crowder with just over three minutes remaining in the opening quarter. He had scored four points in nine minutes prior to exiting.

Dennis Schroder struggled to make an impact in 32 minutes for the Thunder. A threat off the bench, Schroder was three of 12 from the field while he missed all five three-point attempts for just six points.

Milwaukee made 43 per cent from the field, and were 14 of 42 from three-point land against the Magic.

 

No stopping LeBron!

James flew past the Trail Blazers en route to his swift basket.

Somehow, a diving Adebayo made this stunning shot for the Heat with his back towards the rim.

Tuesday's results

Houston Rockets 123-108 Oklahoma City Thunder
Miami Heat 113-101 Indiana Pacers
Orlando Magic 122-110 Milwaukee Bucks
Portland Trail Blazers 100-93 Los Angeles Lakers

 

76ers face Celtics

Can the Philadelphia 76ers bounce back from their Game 1 loss against old rivals the Boston Celtics? Philadelphia will meet Boston on Wednesday, with the Celtics to be without injured star Gordon Hayward (ankle).

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo called for more aggression from the Eastern Conference top seeds following their surprise defeat to the Orlando Magic in the opening game of the first-round NBA playoff series.

The Bucks – eyeing their first championship since 1971 – were sensationally upstaged 122-110 by the Magic in Orlando on Tuesday, despite 31 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists from Antetokounmpo.

Eighth seeds the Magic have not won a postseason series since 2010 but Nikola Vucevic's playoff career-high 35 points and 14 rebounds helped Orlando take down Milwaukee in the first-round opener at Walt Disney World Resort.

The Bucks ended the regular season with the best win-loss record, but Milwaukee entered the Eastern Conference matchup having become the first team in NBA history to have more losses (4-9) in their final 13 regular-season games than they did in the entire campaign (52-8) prior to that.

Amid their struggle for form, reigning MVP Antetokounmpo told reporters: "We just have to play hard. Just make them feel uncomfortable. We were doing it at times but have to do it for longer stretches in the game.

"They felt comfortable. We have to learn from it. Hopefully we can come out in Game 2 more aggressive and physical. Get them off their rhythm."

"There's no magic wand to point and things are going to change," Antetokounmpo said. "You've got to come out, play hard, play even harder, play together and have fun.

"There's no crowd, no fans to cheer you on and give you that extra energy, so you have to do it yourself."

Unlike previous seasons, there is no home-court advantage in the playoffs amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the league underway inside the NBA bubble.

Asked about Walt Disney World Resort and whether being away from home has impacted the Bucks, Antetokounmpo replied: "One thing I'll say is that we play a game or practice and obviously we're in the bubble and are unable to go home. We don't get to be away from basketball, even for a few hours.

"If things were normal, we'd be back home on our own court and after the game, we go home and spend time with our families. Watch a movie, eat your favourite foods and sleep in your own bed. You're just comfortable. Now, it just feels like we're always at work. You can't escape basketball.

"But it is what it is. It's not just us, there's 16 teams in the bubble going through the same thing… But we just have to do our job, go out there, have fun and play basketball."

The NBA playoffs are finally here.

After the regular season extended into August with eight rounds of seeding games in the Orlando 'bubble' - followed by the Portland Trail Blazers' win in their play-in game - we have our 16 playoff teams.

The Milwaukee Bucks are the top seed in the East, while the Los Angeles Lakers led the way in the West.

But everything does not always go to script in the playoffs, with the Bucks on top last year, too, but losing out to eventual champions the Toronto Raptors - inspired by Kawhi Leonard, now of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Despite this unpredictable format, the Stats Perform AI team have been crunching the numbers behind the scenes and running 10,000 simulations.

Using this model, we have taken a look at how the coming weeks could pan out...
 

BUCKS AS CHAMPS? LAKERS WIN UNLIKELY

After another outstanding regular season and with Giannis Antetokounmpo in their ranks, it may come as no surprise the Bucks are favourites to take the title for just the second time.

What might be slightly more unexpected is the distance by which Milwaukee are considered the frontrunners.

According to our model, the Bucks have a 29.6 per cent chance of triumphing, winning 2,959 of the 10,000 simulations.

The Clippers are next on the list and would win the championship in 18 per cent of cases, while the Raptors' title defence stands a 13.6 per cent chance of being successful, just ahead of the Boston Celtics on 13.4 per cent.

That means the Lakers are way down in fifth on our list of contenders, despite boasting LeBron James and Anthony Davis and enjoying a strong season to date.

Indeed, LeBron's team won the playoff tournament in just 848 of the 10,000 simulations - or a measly 8.5 per cent.
 

ORLANDO COULD YET CONJURE UP SOME MAGIC

The Bucks have a great opportunity to win the championship and they will certainly be expected to get through their first-round series against the Orlando Magic, the eighth seed in the East.

But do not count the Magic out entirely at this stage.

Orlando will have their work cut out if they are to get anyway near the Finals, let alone take home the trophy, but not every simulation saw the local side make an early exit.

Of the 10,000 simulations, six (0.06 per cent) actually saw the Magic go all the way and claim a stunning title triumph.

Steve Clifford's team are unsurprisingly least likely to win the championship, although the eighth seed in the West, the Blazers, are ranked ahead of the Brooklyn Nets, who came seventh in the East.

The Philadelphia 76ers and Indian Pacers are each also given less than a one per cent chance of becoming champions.
 

BUCKS IN SEVEN AFTER CLIPPERS SWEEP LAKERS?!

The playoffs can often feel too random for any model to contend with, but what if we ran the simulation just once?

Well, in that scenario, the Bucks still came out on top, but they were pushed all the way to seven games by the Clippers, requiring a remarkable fightback after going 3-1 down in the Finals. They won Game 7 112-90, however.

Both teams had come into that series full of momentum after 4-0 sweeps in the Conference Finals.

Milwaukee brushed aside the Sixers, who beat the odds to come past the Celtics and then the Raptors, while the Clippers battered rivals the Lakers, winning each game by more than 10 points.

Besides Philadelphia's shock run, the biggest upset in the bracket saw the sixth-seeded Utah Jazz sensationally beat the third-seeded Denver Nuggets 4-0.

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