Category Archives: NBA

NBA suspends Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo 1 game for headbutting

Giannis Antetokounmpo let his emotions get the best of him on Tuesday, and the reigning MVP is paying the price for it. In a tense second quarter between his Milwaukee Bucks and the Washington Wizards, Giannis, who had been fouled several times, finally lost his temper after a charge call.

The Bucks called timeout, but Antetokounmpo, in his frustration, delivered a headbutt to Wizards big man Moe Wagner. He was called for a flagrant-2 foul and ejected.

As a result of the head shot, the NBA is suspending the Greek Freak for the Bucks’ final seeding game Thursday versus the Memphis Grizzlies, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Antetokounmpo was remorseful in his actions when speaking to the media after the game. “Terrible action,” Antetokounmpo said. “If I could go back and turn back time and go back to that play, I wouldn’t do it. But at the end of the day, we’re all human, we all make mistakes.

I think I’ve done a great job all year, in my career, of keeping my composure and focusing on the game, but like I said, we’re human, we make mistakes. But at the end of the day, learn from it, keep playing good basketball and keep moving forward.”

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In relation to why he reacted that way, the reigning MVP said that he was responding to what he felt was a build-up of emotion over the course of the game. While Wagner received the brunt of Antetokounmpo’s frustration, he wasn’t necessarily angry with him.

“I don’t think I was frustrated with Wagner,” Antetokounmpo said. “I think it was just the whole, like, build-up of dirty plays in my mind. Guys tripping me, guys falling in front of my feet, holding me, hitting me. It wasn’t just — I don’t have nothing against Wagner, it wasn’t just him.”

The ejection was the third of Antetokounmpo’s regular-season career and fourth overall. Based on historical precedent, Antetokounmpo’s one-game suspension was expected. Hasheem Thabeet (2013) and Kevin Garnett (2015) both headbutted opposing players and were suspended for their team’s next game.

Milwaukee’s next game comes versus Memphis as the Grizzlies desperately try to fight their way into the play-in tournament for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot. 

Milwaukee has nothing to play for having long-since clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, so losing Antetokounmpo for a game has no bearing on its playoff future. But the Bucks have struggled to get into a rhythm in Orlando due to a combination of rest- and coronavirus-induced absences.

They will have a relatively easy first-round series versus the Magic in which they can hopefully regain the momentum they’ve lost, but after that, they will have to win three very difficult series versus fellow contenders. 

Now Antetokounmpo loses his final tune-up game with the Bucks. They didn’t exactly need this win, but getting him those minutes on the court would have been valuable.

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Ben Simmons likely out for season

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and is likely to miss the rest of the campaign, sources tell ESPN.

Simmons will have a loose body removed from his left knee in the coming days, the team informed Saturday.

Only a deep Sixers playoff run could keep a fleeting hope of his return alive this season, sources said. Even then, his return from the procedure — expected to take place outside of the Disney campus in the coming days — is largely expected to come next season.

The Sixers are preparing now for a postseason run that will come without Simmons, one of the league’s most talented and versatile weapons.

The loose body was a result of a left patella subluxation suffered in Wednesday’s triumph over the Washington Wizards. A subluxation of the patella means that the kneecap popped out of place but returned on its own. The Sixers had moved Simmons to the power forward spot, and now the team’s offensive focus turns fully to All-Star center Joel Embiid.

The Sixers will suffer considerably on the defensive end without Simmons, and offensively they’ll count on a lineup of shooting surrounding Embiid that could give him more room to operate around the basket.

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The injury also means the return of Al Horford in Philadelphia’s starting lineup.

Horford had been replaced in the starting five by guard Shake Milton when Simmons was shifted to power forward after the Sixers arrived in Orlando, but now is back starting next to Embiid.

The Sixers have struggled to maximize the talents of both big men when they have shared the court together since signing Horford as a free agent last summer. That has led Brown to try to limit the amount of time they were going to play together moving forward. Now he has little choice but to try to make it work.

Horford started next to Embiid and played quite well in Philadelphia’s 108-101 win over the Orlando Magic on Friday, finishing with 21 points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes. “We need [Horford] more than we’ve ever needed him,” Brown said afterward.

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Celtics will go as far as Brown and Tatum carry them

A few weeks before the NBA postponed its season in March, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum dropped 41 points at Staples Center in a last-possession loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

After the game, LeBron James awarded the NBA’s ultimate seal of approval when he posted on Instagram a shot of himself and Tatum, with each looking intently at the court as they waited to check in to the nationally televised matchup.

“That boi to the left of me is an ABSOLUTE PROBLEM!! Keep going,” James wrote as the caption, adding the hashtag, “#YoungKing.”

Although any narrow loss is dispiriting, a further signal that Tatum is poised to be one of the preeminent stars of his generation is happy compensation. Nearly six months later, the Absolute Problem leads a team that is once again in the Eastern Conference mix, as the Celtics have continued their forward momentum since breaking ground on their rebuild in 2013.

They’re on their third All-Star point guard in that span, steady veteran Kemba Walker, but they have a largely young roster without the age and experience of Milwaukee or Toronto.

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The Celtics are still developing, still refining their roles in an evolving offense and, in the occasions of their pair of dynamic wings, Tatum and Jaylen Brown, still learning which tools to leave in the toolbox.

They’re rounding into form, and Tatum might find himself on an All-NBA team as soon as this summer.

The extent to which the team can accelerate that growth will likely determine the Celtics’ postseason fortunes.

Now 2-2 in the Orlando, Florida, bubble after a 149-115 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, the Celtics have established over the course of the season that they do a lot of things well — not surprising for a team that ranks in the top five in offense and defense.

As with any squad, there are natural tension points. This is a good thing because team-building and improvement — both individual and team — are accomplished in large part by problem-solving.

The Celtics’ uneven performance during the first week of the bubble is of limited concern. Walker continues to work his way back from a knee injury — he sat out Wednesday night’s back-to-back — and Stevens emphasized after Tuesday’s loss that the careful management of Walker’s minutes in Orlando is a reflection more of caution than concern.

The front office’s objective in accumulating a trove of draft picks over the course of their rebuild was always simple, even if their procurement was complex: Turn those assets into championship-caliber stars. With Tatum and Brown, the Celtics are making good on that goal. The summer of 2020 will be the biggest test yet.

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Grizzlies rule Jaren Jackson Jr. out for season due to meniscus tear

The Memphis Grizzlies suffered a big blow on Tuesday, as the team revealed that second-year forward Jaren Jackson Jr. will miss the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA campaign after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee. The injury occurred versus the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday. 

In Monday’s game versus the Pelicans, Jaren Jackson Jr. experienced an unstable landing after making contact with an opposing player while contesting a shot. Subsequent medical evaluation revealed a meniscus tear in his left knee, which will cause him to miss the remainder of the season. He is expected to make a full recovery. 

This is not the first time that the left knee has been an issue for Jackson. Jackson sprained the knee in February, and he missed nine matches leading up to the suspension of the season in mid-March because of the injury.

Aside from the injury issues though, Jackson Jr. had a stellar sophomore season. He averaged 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game for the Grizzlies, and he scored 76 points over the three games that he played in Orlando. 

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The injury comes at a tough time for the Grizzlies, who are locked in a tight battle for postseason positioning in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies entered the seeding slate in Orlando with a slim lead for the eighth spot in the West, but they lost all three of their first seeding games, which made the contest even tighter.

If the ninth seed in the conference is within four games of the eighth seed when the seeding slate is complete, a play-in series will be triggered. In the series, the eighth-seeded team will only need to win once in order to claim the final playoff spot in the West, while the ninth-seeded team would need to win twice in a row before the eighth-seeded team wins once. 

The Trail Blazers, Spurs, Pelicans, Kings, and Suns are all currently within four games of the Grizzlies. Whichever team ultimately claims the final spot in the West will face off versus the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, as the Lakers secured the top overall seed in the conference on Monday night. 

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Magic forward Jonathan Isaac has torn ACL in left knee

Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac suffered a torn ACL during a 132-116 triumph over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, the team announced.

The injury appeared to occur after Isaac jump-stopped past two opponents and planted on the floor in an awkward way.

“It looked bad, obviously,” Orlando coach Steve Clifford said after the game, per ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “Until you hear anything, I am just hopeful, that’s all.” 

An MRI performed after the match exposed the full extent of his injury.

Once word of Isaac’s diagnosis broke, the Magic forward received an outpouring of support from his peers The loss of Isaac is a major one for Orlando. The 22-year-old is averaging 12.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, 1.5 steals and 1.3 assists in his third season, all career highs, while shooting 47.1 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from three. 

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Isaac’s offensive game remains a work in progress, but he’s been a defensive difference-maker for the 32-35 Magic, who beat the Kings 132-116 on Sunday and now hold the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference standings. 

“My whole heart goes out to him. He’s such a great guy, such a great person,” Isaac’s teammate Aaron Gordon told reporters after the game. “… I hope it’s nothing serious. I hope it’s just something that kind of shocked him. But it was sad, man. It brought tears to my eyes.”

Isaac’s 2019-20 season has been hampered by injuries.

He missed 31 games with a left knee injury before the NBA was shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the same knee he injured Sunday. 

There’s now a possibility that he’ll miss a large chunk—if not the entirety—of the 2020-21 season, which is expected to start in December. That would be a huge setback for him.

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Anthony Davis could miss Lakers’ opener with eye injury

The Los Angeles Lakers don’t know how they’ll look in Thursday’s match versus  the Los Angeles Clippers just yet because they’re waiting to find out just how well Anthony Davis can see.

Davis, who was inadvertently poked in the right eye by Michael Carter-Williams during Saturday’s scrimmage versus the Orlando Magic, did not practice Tuesday.

The All-Star big man spent the session in a seat on the sideline while sporting shaded eyewear.

“He’s day-to-day, and while he’s still dealing with discomfort there is some concern that he could potentially not play Thursday,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said on a video conference. “But we’re hopeful that he does, and we’ll see how that plays out. He’s going to continue to be evaluated each day.”

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Vogel, who has used the term “discomfort” on several occasions to describe Davis’ situation since Saturday, was asked to elaborate.

Does that mean blurred vision? “I don’t know if I’m allowed to really get into the details of it, other than that’s what they told me to report,” Vogel said. “So that’s all I can give you.”

Davis looked dominant in L.A.’s second scrimmage since reporting to Orlando, putting up nine points and 10 rebounds in limited minutes before exiting the game when Carter-Williams’ hand unintentionally caught Davis’ face while he was swiping for the ball. Davis, an eight-year veteran, averaged 26.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.4 blocks in his inaugural season with the Lakers before the NBA went on hiatus in March.

The Lakers will have to update Davis’ status on Wednesday, according to league rules. The NBA recently told teams in a memo that participation status for every player — detailing an injury, illness or the potential for a rest day — has to be submitted by 5 p.m. ET the day before a game, according to The Undefeated’s Marc Spears.

Vogel’s colloquial use of “day to day” for Davis is not an established status. Teams must choose to designate their players as available, probable, questionable, doubtful or out.

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Joel Embiid out of 76ers’ scrimmage with calf issue

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid sat out Sunday afternoon’s scrimmage versus the Oklahoma City Thunder with right calf tightness.

The Sixers said before the scrimmage that Embiid started feeling tightness in the calf during Friday’s 90-83 triumph over Memphis in Philadelphia’s first action inside the NBA’s bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort. He is listed as day-to-day and will be reevaluated Monday.

“Not really,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said when asked if there is any frustration about Embiid missing time with an injury. “It’s the second game. “If this had happened three to four games into what we are calling the regular season, [yes]. There is always frustration, selfish frustration, and I know frustration, at times, for Joel. But initially, [we’re] just trying to be smart with everything and move on.”

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Brown said before Friday’s scrimmage that he hoped to get Embiid 18 to 20 minutes, but instead he ended with just under 13, scoring 10 points on 3-for-10 shooting to go with six rebounds and an assist.

He was the only starter to not play in the second half.

When asked whether Embiid could potentially miss any of the seeding games, which for Philadelphia started Saturday versus the Indiana Pacers — with whom they are tied for fifth place in the Eastern Conference — Brown side-stepped the question.

“I believe we’re just getting out in front of stuff, and being smart with it,” he said.

Brown said Al Horford, who has been benched in favor of second-year guard Shake Milton in the restart, would substitute Embiid in the starting lineup alongside Milton, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons, and that he looks at Embiid’s absence as an opportunity to get Horford some extended minutes.

“I feel that it’s an opportunity,” Brown said. “Truly — not coach speak, not political speak, truly — to play Al more, to put him with some different groups.” Embiid averaged 23.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 blocks per game while playing in 44 of Philadelphia’s 65 games this season prior to it being suspended in March because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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Bucks’ Eric Bledsoe arrives in Orlando after Covid-19 diagnosis

Less than 24 hours before the start of their first scrimmage in Orlando, the Milwaukee Bucks have landed quite the familiar reinforcement.

Starting Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe joined the squad in Orlando, as confirmed by the Bucks’ very own Twitter account, after previously testing positive for COVID-19, which obviously delayed his initial arrival with the team as they first arrived in Orlando two weeks ago.

For Bledsoe to arrive in Orlando was a big step as that meant producing two consecutive negative tests before he was cleared to join his teammates and the rest of the Bucks’ traveling party. Per the league’s protocol, Bledsoe now must go into quarantine for two days down in Orlando before rejoining his squad in practice sessions.

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That now leaves Pat Connaughton as the only absence for the Bucks going into the restart after he revealed earlier this week that he had also tested positive for COVID-19.

The timeline for Connaughton’s return has yet to be clarified.

While the Bucks wait for Connaughton’s return, the timing of Bledsoe’s arrival really couldn’t have worked out any better for the Bucks as they’re a little over a week out from officially resuming play when they take on the Boston Celtics on July 31.

With his ability to slice into opposing defenses at will while simultaneously offering incredibly strong perimeter defense and check some of the best scoring guards in the league, Bledsoe’s two-way abilities make up a critical component in the Bucks’ formula.

It’s absolutely a refreshing and welcome sight to see Bledsoe rejoin the squad, but also seem happy and healthy following his brush with COVID-19. But the pressure will soon be on Bledsoe and the Bucks overall to finish what they all started.

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Ricky Rubio back with Suns after testing positive

Phoenix Suns guard Ricky Rubio told reporters on Wednesday that he didn’t join the team in Orlando, Florida, until this week because of a positive COVID-19 test. Rubio said he joined the team two days ago and Tuesday was his first practice.

Phoenix has its first scrimmage on Thursday although it’s unclear if Rubio will play.

“I just had two practices so I have to talk with strength coach, [Suns coach Monty Williams] and the whole team,” Rubio said. “I feel good but we have to be smart about it. It’s a preseason game. We have to figure out a plan that’s day by day. We can’t plan ahead like other times. We didn’t know when I was going to come so we have to play it day by day.”

Rubio did not say when he first tested positive for the virus but did state that it was harder on him because while he was in Phoenix, his family stayed back in Spain. Now, he says he has to be careful with how he ramps back up and gets ready to play once again.

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Williams said he would meet with his staff Wednesday night to determine Rubio’s playing status moving forward.

Rubio, who has been involved with the league’s social justice movement while he has been out and was on a recent league call with Breonna Taylor’s mother and lawyer, also tried to put in focus the NBA’s return to basketball in the current social climate.

“It’s tough but the times we live in right now, we have to adjust to the uncomfortable,” Rubio stated. “The NBA did a really good job of keeping us safe down here. At the end of the day, basketball, right now, it’s not the first thing we’re thinking of when it comes to live. There’s a lot on our plate and everybody’s plate. We have to think for the big picture but we’re here and ready to play.”

Rubio is not the only player who hasn’t been with the team in Orlando. The Suns are without guards Elie Okobo and Jalen Lecque for what the team is calling personal matters. Center Aron Baynes told Stadium that he tested positive for COVID-19 and isn’t with the team yet.

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Pacers star Victor Oladipo pondering return during NBA restart

Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo initially ruled out a return for the NBA restart in Orlando, but the two-time All-Star now says there’s a “strong possibility” that could change, though he remains unsure.

“It was hard for me to assess where I was at from the long layover, and obviously [with the coronavirus], couldn’t really control that. But now, coming down here and getting some practices in, getting my feet under me, going out there playing with the guys, there’s a possibility that I could play,” Oladipo told reporters during Wednesday’s Zoom availability.

Oladipo first planned to travel with the team to Orlando while continuing rehab on his quadriceps tendon, but now his “body’s feeling good,” with no limitations from head coach Nate McMillan during practices. He’s trying to give it a go.

Even before traveling to Orlando, the Pacers included him on their travel party list as they worked through his options.

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President of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard and GM Chad Buchanan have publicly supported Oladipo, saying the decision was his to make and giving him no set deadline, despite multiple sources confirming to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst that there in an unresolved situation regarding $3 million in salary.

The union feels he should be paid his remaining salary, while the league believes he should not be, according to Windhorst. Either way, Oladipo says returning to basketball is his main focus, not the money.

The Pacers are willing to pay his salary whether or not he plays for the remainder of this shortened season, sources told Windhorst. So there’s no real pressure either way. “These people have been amazing since the day I put on this jersey. It’s no surprise that they back me and they support me,” Oladipo said.

“It’s an amazing organization, amazing people. So I’m just thankful that they’ve got my back. That’s not necessarily a given thing when you’re in a situation like I am, so I just want to let them know that I appreciate that for sure.”

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