NBA

'Heaven' for Giannis as Lillard and Middleton help Bucks overcome Heat

By Sports Desk November 29, 2023

Giannis Antetokounmpo said playing with Damian Lillard and Khris Middleton was "like heaven" after the trio combined to guide the Milwaukee Bucks to the quarterfinals of the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament.

The Bucks moved to 13-5 for the season and 4-0 in East Group B for the In-Season Tournament with Tuesday's 131-124 win over the Miami Heat at Kaseya Center.

Milwaukee found themselves down 118-115 with three minutes and 25 seconds to play, but they finished on a 16-6 run to tee up a home game in the last eight, with Antetokounmpo leading the way with 33 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

The two-time MVP was ably supported by Lillard, who posted 32 points and nine assists, and Middleton, who finished with 17 points and eight rebounds. 

After the game, Bucks head coach Adrian Griffin revealed Antetokounmpo had suggested feeding the ball to Middleton more often, and the star forward said doing so made Milwaukee less predictable.

"It's great, for me it's like heaven when you have two guys that can create their own shots, and I don't have to make something happen," Antetokounmpo said.

"It's great. My whole career it's been that way, and now also we have Khris and Dame that can do that. It makes the game easier for everybody. 

"Them breaking down the defenses is great, but if they can't, they can give the ball to me and I'll spread it to the corners or play one-on-one.

"Offensively, I think guys got to the spots and were able to execute, a few pick and rolls with Dame as the ball handler, a few pick and rolls with Khris as the ball handler… it was great. 

"I think it helps the flow of our offense when it doesn't always have to be Dame and Giannis, then we can play from there.

"I feel like that's where we are, all playing as a team, the energy is better, everybody has more touches of the ball, I think we can be more effective that way."

The Heat were made to pay for the absence of Jimmy Butler, who missed the game with an ankle sprain after averaging 37.6 points as Miami eliminated Milwaukee from the playoffs last season.

Bam Adebayo scored 31 points for Miami, with Kyle Lowry adding 21 and Josh Richardson contributing 20, and head coach Erik Spoelstra was broadly pleased with their display, despite the result.

"I felt like we played a very good basketball game," Spoelstra said. "A very good offensive game, in particular."

Now 10-8 for the campaign and eliminated from the In-Season Tournament, Miami will look to halt their three-game losing streak when they face the Indiana Pacers in a home double-header later this week. 

Related items

  • KFC Basketball Star Search Camp tips off at GC Foster College on Monday, July 15 KFC Basketball Star Search Camp tips off at GC Foster College on Monday, July 15

    The Jamaica Basketball Association's annual KFC Basketball Star Search Camp is set to tip off on Monday, July 15, at the GC Foster College in St. Catherine. The event, which begins at 11 a.m., will gather the top 120 youth basketball players from across the island, aged 12 to 20, providing them with a unique opportunity to hone their skills, interact with mentors, and prepare for potential scholarship opportunities.

    This highly anticipated camp is known for its comprehensive approach to player development. Participants will benefit from the expertise of both overseas and local coaches who will guide them through various drills and competitions. The camp's itinerary includes general fitness tests, skills assessments, special drill stations, a 3-point shooting contest, and both 3x3 and full-court team competitions.

    Beyond the court, the camp places a strong emphasis on holistic development. Campers will engage in life skills sessions, receive nutrition tips, learn about anti-doping guidelines, and partake in cultural presentations. This multifaceted approach aims to prepare young athletes not only for the demands of basketball but also for the broader challenges they may face in life.

    One of the highlights of the camp is the presence of overseas coaches and scouts, who will be on hand to offer scholarships and provide valuable insights into the criteria and requirements necessary to maintain these offers. This exposure is crucial for young players aspiring to continue their education and basketball careers in North America.

    The KFC Basketball Star Search Camp has a rich history of over 20 years, during which it has been instrumental in the development of numerous young Jamaican basketball talents. Many of these players have successfully transitioned into high schools, junior colleges, and universities in North America, thanks in part to the foundation laid by this camp.

    This year's camp is supported by several notable sponsors, including KFC, The Bob Marley Foundation, Gatorade, and the Sports Development Foundation. Their contributions ensure the continued success and impact of the camp, fostering the next generation of Jamaican basketball stars.

    As the camp kicks off on Monday, the excitement and anticipation are palpable. With a blend of skill development, mentorship, and holistic growth opportunities, the KFC Basketball Star Search Camp promises to be a transformative experience for all participants.

  • Brunson takes $156.5 million to help Knicks' flexibility Brunson takes $156.5 million to help Knicks' flexibility

    Jalen Brunson signed a four-year, $156.5 million extension with the New York Knicks on Friday.

    The figure is $113 million less guaranteed than he would have been eligible to receive next offseason, but it puts the Knicks in a much better position financially to build a championship-caliber roster around him.

    The deal was first reported by ESPN, with Brunson’s agent telling the organisation his client chose the extension over a five-year, $269 million contract he could have received as a free agent in 2025.

    It’s an unprecedented move for the All-Star guard who finished fifth in MVP voting last season after he averaged career highs of 28.7 points and 6.7 assists in 2023-24.

    Those numbers were far better than expected when the former second-round pick signed with the Knicks in 2022, with some questioning if a player who had mostly been a backup in Dallas was worth more than $100 million.

    Brunson, 27, helped the Knicks reach the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2013 before falling to the Indiana Pacers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Brunson broke his hand in the second half and the Knicks were already dealing with a plethora of injuries to key players.

    He has blossomed into one of the league's most impactful players and leaders and earned All-NBA honours after totalling 11 40-point games in the regular season.

    Brunson’s extension will begin with the 2025-26 season and his decision to take less money should help the Knicks manage their payroll after a busy offseason in which they re-signed OG Anunoby to a five-year contract worth more than $210 million and acquired Mikal Bridges from the Brooklyn Nets.

  • KFC Jamaica fuels the future of basketball with JMD$4.5 million investment in youth camps KFC Jamaica fuels the future of basketball with JMD$4.5 million investment in youth camps

    Young basketball players across Jamaica are set to score big this summer, thanks to a continued sponsorship from quick service restaurant giant, KFC Jamaica. The company has reaffirmed its commitment to local basketball with a substantial $4.5 million investment in the 2024 Jumpball Basketball Programme and the Jamaica Basketball Association (JaBA) Star Search Basketball & Life Skills Camp. These pivotal sporting initiatives aim to nurture the next generation of basketball talent in Jamaica, benefiting over 400 young male and female players, ages 8 to 18.

    Marketing Manager for Restaurants of Jamaica, Andrei Roper, expressed KFC’s enthusiasm for supporting these initiatives. “Jamaica’s youth have always excelled at sports, particularly basketball. Over the years, we have witnessed the tremendous growth and impact of local basketball programmes such as Jumpball and Star Search on our young players, and we remain committed to consistently extending our support. We are excited to be a part of projects that are as dedicated to youth development as we are at KFC. We value our long-standing partnership with these programmes and appreciate their efforts in supporting youth education and basketball futures. Ensuring their continued growth is a priority for us.”

    Through this partnership, KFC will encourage young athletes to take full advantage of the expertise provided by some of the best coaches available, creating opportunities to secure their basketball and educational futures. This includes scholarships to study and play overseas and even the chance to play basketball professionally at the highest level.

    This year, KFC has contributed support packages amounting to $2 million in cash and $1 million in meal sponsorship to the JaBA Star Search Basketball & Life Skills Camp, which will be hosted from July 14 to 19 at the GC Foster College in St. Catherine. KFC’s cash support will assist in accommodation expenses for players and local and visiting coaches, transportation, training equipment, speaker and presenter incentives, and other costs for the 120 campers.

    “We welcome the continued support of KFC because without them, we could not deliver such an amazing opportunity to our campers. Through this partnership, we will continue to position our young players for the opportunity to grow and excel beyond borders. In the past, hundreds of our players have received scholarships for university and high schools overseas and we just want to continue doing that,” said President of the JaBA, Paulton Gordon.

    Jamaica’s longest-running basketball programme, the Jumpball Basketball Camp, has also benefited from a donation of $500,000 in cash and $1 million in meal support from KFC. The camp kicks off in Kingston with the corporate area camp running from July 8 to 11. In keeping with its tradition, the camp will move to other parishes including St. Elizabeth, St. Mary, Manchester, St. Ann, and St. James from July 26 to August 31.

    Jumpball Senior Coach, Rohan Robinson, shared, “We are grateful to KFC for extending support to our program for yet another execution. We aim to make summer memorable for young athletes and we could not do it without the help of KFC.”

    KFC remains committed to nurturing the talents and aspirations of young Jamaicans, ensuring a brighter future through sports and education. This continued support not only provides young athletes with the resources they need to excel but also inspires them to strive for greatness, both on and off the court.

    As the camps gear up to start, the excitement among young basketball enthusiasts is palpable. With the backing of KFC, these budding athletes are poised to make significant strides in their sporting journeys, bringing pride and success to Jamaica’s basketball community.

     

     

     

     


    C

     

     

     

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.