No team in the NBA has beaten the Milwaukee Bucks twice this season. In a few months, some lucky team will be tasked with doing it four times.
The Boston Celtics came close to earning their second victory against Milwaukee, but ultimately lost 98-97 after Kia MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo poured in 30 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
The Bucks held the Celtics under 100 points on Thursday, which had only happened once since mid-November. Kyrie Irving’s frigid shooting didn’t help the cause as the All-Star point guard missed 18 of his 27 attempts.
But nothing encapsulated the Bucks' tremendous defensive efforts better than Giannis violently chasing down Jayson Tatum’s dunk attempt in the fourth quarter.
Milwaukee officially won the season series to clinch the tiebreaker, though the chance at that even mattering at this point is slim. As it stands, the Celtics are fifth in the East and 7.5 games behind the Bucks.
Mike Budenholzer's group sits atop the Eastern Conference with a 44-14 record. When going against the East’s next top four teams ― Toronto, Indiana, Philadelphia and Boston ― the Bucks boast an 8-3 record.
Again, good luck beating them four times.
What was Buddy Hield doing?!
Buddy Hield, for whatever reason, passes up an open go-ahead 3 from the same spot he hit one 14 seconds prior. Drives into traffic, tosses up contested miss. Warriors survive.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 22, 2019
Buddy Hield shouldn’t have second-guessed himself. He had a chance to snatch that win from Golden State by hitting a shot he can make. But he hesitated, then drove inside for a contested airball. For the Kings to fend off LeBron & make the playoffs, they’ve got to stay fearless— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) February 22, 2019
Buddy should have just taken that long shot.— Akis (@Aykis16) February 22, 2019
Hield, who fans have enjoyed rooting for all season as part of the resurgent Sacramento Kings, passed up a wide-open, go-ahead shot on the road against the defending champions and settled for a contested turnaround jumper instead.
Here’s the actual play, with Sacramento down 125-123 and 6.5 seconds left on the clock.
"I should've pulled it, man," Hield said after the game. "I should've pulled it, no excuse."
"I thought he was gonna shoot it,” Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox said. “We were like 'You shoulda shot that (expletive).'"
You can tell by Draymond Green's reaction upon noticing Hield wide open, even he thought it was going up.
Nonetheless, you have to love the fight in Hield and these Kings, who came into the season as the sixth-most inexperienced squad in the league and were projected to be in the lottery yet again.
Now they’re in a realistic battle for the playoffs in a cutthroat Western Conference. Sacramento is 1.5 games out of the eighth seed, stationed behind the LA Clippers. Landing at that spot would presumably set up a Warriors-Kings first-round matchup, which is one enticing possibility after seeing how these two California teams have played each other this season.
The Warriors won all four games, but three points was the combined margin of victory. Durant admitted neither of those were a given.
"That's the fourth game that we deserved to lose against this team," he said.
Lakers on Kings' heels
What if Hield's late decision eventually haunts Sacramento?
That's obviously not quantifiable ― he truly could've missed the shot ― but it might certainly cross the sharpshooter's mind come April if the Kings just miss the postseason (he said himself he's always checking the standings and playoff race).
The Los Angeles Lakers, fighting from the West's 10th spot, now trail Sacramento by one game after a 111-106 comeback victory against the Rockets.
LeBron James declared earlier in the day that his playoff-mode has been activated. He continued that mantra after the win.
''I need to be in that level right now. Knowing the circumstances we are in and kick starting something,'' said James, who finished with a modest 29 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. ''I like where I am at and will continue to get better. Tonight was a step in the right direction.'"
Curry still feelin' it
Coming off his impressive dunk to close out last Sunday's All-Star Game, Stephen Curry carried his momentum into some real action for his very first dunk of the season.
Iverson’s tribute to Wade
Hall of Famer Allen Iverson delivered a tribute video to another player set to join him in Springfield, Mass., one day. Iverson recognized Dwyane Wade during the Heat legend’s final game in Philadelphia.
“You were so great for us fans,” Iverson said. “So entertaining. So exciting for us to watch. Definitely one of the best two guards to ever play the game.”
Wade recorded a team-high 19 points and six rebounds in the loss to the Sixers. The 37-year-old also added one block to his stat sheet, swatting away former teammate and good friend Jimmy Butler with some solid help defense.
Wade’s final stretch run is here and it’s time to start counting down how many games the Miami Heat’s all-time leading scorer has left.
Twenty-five more games left in this last dance. Twenty-five more games left to watch one of the most tantalizing shooting guards the league has ever witnessed. Afterwards, and this is excluding a possible playoff run, we'll never see a player run up the court in a No. 3 Miami Heat jersey again.
Wade exchanged one of those jerseys with an up-and-coming guard who, quite fittingly, wears No. 25.
Enes Kanter made his debut for the Trail Blazers and was rather productive in Portland’s win over Brooklyn. The Turkish big man finished with 18 points (8-9 FG) and nine rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench.
After spending the last season-and-a-half in New York, Kanter says he forgot how it feels to be in the win column.
Wow! That’s how winning feels 🤔— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) February 22, 2019
I can get use to that 😅#RipCity
Shabazz Napier diced up his former team in the first half, dishing eight assists in just eight minutes. For his eighth dime ― he finished with 10 in the loss ― the fifth-year point guard looked like a football center: hike it and protect the man behind you.
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