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Giannis Antetokounmpo still awed by block, but ready to shift focus to Game 5 of NBA Finals

Two days after Giannis Antetokounmpo’s ridiculous block of Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton’s dunk attempt late in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, the Milwaukee Bucks superstar still can’t explain precisely how he pulled it off.

“It’s incredible what your body is [able] to do,” Antetokounmpo said Friday. “When you think about winning, you go to the extreme.

“I cannot explain the play. But, at the end of the day, that’s in the past. When you talk about the past, that’s your ego talking. It’s in the past. It’s over with.

“I got to move on. I got to keep making winning plays. I got to keep competing. I got to keep finding ways to help my team be great. Great moment. I appreciate the moment. Great moment. [But] we got to move on.”

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The basketball world, on the other side, has done little moving on in the 40 or so hours since Antetokounmpo’s rejection with 74 seconds to go in Game 4, preserving Milwaukee’s two-point lead at the time and helping the Bucks even the series at two games apiece as it shifts back here for Game 5 on Saturday night.

There have been comparisons to LeBron James’ epic block of Andre Iguodala’s layup in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, and debates rage over which of them was the more impressive play, along with other great blocks from past playoffs.

For Antetokounmpo, the focus is on something much more tangible: getting a triumph in Game 5, which would allow Milwaukee to have the opportunity to claim its first championship in a half-century with a win back at Fiserv Forum Tuesday night in Game 6.

It’s an approach that has come from past experiences and learning about the perils of feeling too good after one strong performance.

“I think I would say life. Usually, from my experience, when I think about like, ‘Oh, yeah, I did this, I’m so great, I had 30, I had 25-10-10,’ whatever the case might be. … Usually, the next day, you’re going to suck, you know?” Antetokounmpo said with a smile. “Simple as that. The next few days you’re going to be terrible.

“I figured out a mindset to have that when you focus on the past, that’s your ego. ‘I did this. We were able to beat this team 4-0. I did this in the past. I won that in the past.’ When I focus on the future, it’s my pride. ‘Yeah, next game, Game 5, I do this and this and this. I’m going to dominate.’ That’s your pride talking. It doesn’t happen. You’re right here.

“I kind of try to focus on the moment, in the present. That’s humility. That’s being humble. That’s not setting no expectation. That’s going out there, enjoying the game, competing at a high level. I think I’ve had people throughout my life that helped me with that. But that is a skill that I’ve tried to, like, kind of … master it. It’s been working so far, so I’m not going to stop.”

If Antetokounmpo’s play is any guide, he shouldn’t be changing much of anything about his approach.

Through the first four matches of these NBA Finals, Antetokounmpo is averaging 32.3 points, 14.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists and has generally been able to get whatever he’s wanted.

Even in Game 4, after which he admitted he could’ve been more aggressive, he finished with 26 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, three steals and two blocks in 43 minutes.

More importantly for the Bucks, they have been able to dig themselves out of an 0-2 hole to begin a playoff series for the second time in these playoffs and to recover from a deficit in the series for a third consecutive time.

The past two postseasons, the Bucks have faltered when challenged — first by the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 Eastern Conference finals, then last year in the conference semifinals by the Miami Heat in the NBA’s bubble.

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Golden State Warriors’ Kevon Looney out at least two weeks with sprained ankle

Golden State Warriors big man Kevon Looney will be out at least the next two weeks as he keeps to recover from a sprained left ankle, the team informed Wednesday.

Looney suffered the injury late in the first half of Tuesday’s 111-107 loss to the Boston Celtics and had an MRI late Tuesday night that confirmed the sprain. He will be reevaluated in two weeks as he continues rehab.

“This was a fluke,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr stated after the game. “He caught his foot on the floor and rolled the ankle. Just the way it goes. I feel bad for him because he’s worked so hard to get back to this space and he’s really been playing well for us, so it’s a big blow.”

Looney’s injury comes at a bad time for the 11-10 Warriors. They are already playing without rookie center James Wiseman, who sprained his left wrist in last Saturday’s victory over the Detroit Pistons and will be reevaluated in a week.

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Backup big man Marquese Chriss has been out since the first week of the season after suffering a serious ankle injury during a practice in Chicago.

It still unclear if he will comeback this season.

In the short term, Kerr noted that Eric Paschall, Draymond Green and two-way player Juan Toscano-Anderson will all get minutes at the 5 spot.

“Eric Paschall becomes a bigger part of what we’re doing and so does Juan,” Kerr said. “I guess Juan sort of qualifies as a big man, kind of. Eric definitely does. So we’ll be short-handed. Draymond will play a lot of 5 and Eric will get more minutes, and we’ll see what happens from there.”

Warriors star guard Stephen Curry is hopeful that the Warriors can use the small-ball lineup to their advantage as they get set for a four-game road swing to Dallas and San Antonio over the next week. “You kind of have to flip it on its head,” Curry said after Tuesday’s loss.

“Everybody’s going to talk about what we can’t do with a small-ball lineup, but we can focus on what we can do and that’s play fast, get everybody involved, ball can be moving. Create chaos on both ends of the floor and then figure out how you rebound and how you up the paint on the defensive end. So with Dallas and San Antonio, it will be interesting because they do — [Kristaps] Porzingis is huge, but they do play a lot of small ball, too, so maybe that will match up well for us.”

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Buccaneers’ A.Q. Shipley May Have Career-Ending Neck Injury

Tampa Bay Buccaneers center A.Q. Shipley may have suffered a career-ending neck injury during his team’s game versus the Los Angeles Rams on Monday.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians provided the news on Sirius XM NFL Radio on Wednesday, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

“A.Q. Shipley appears to have had a career-ending injury,” Arians said. “And I feel bad because I love A.Q. He’s one of my favorite players of all time and was playing good for us. But I think it was a previous injury that might have just got aggravated in his neck.”

Arians told reporters postgame Monday that Shipley had suffered a stinger but would be OK.

The ex-Penn State lineman did not take part in Wednesday’s practice. Afterward, Arians statedthat the team would “see more on A.Q. [Thursday].” However, it appears Shipley’s prognosis has unfortunately taken a turn for the worse.

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While Williams will remain out for at least the next two weeks, the 49ers are hoping to get some reinforcements back from injured reserve soon.

The team opened the 21-day practice window for running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. on Tuesday, which means they could return as early as Sunday’s game versus the Los Angeles Rams.

Mostert and Wilson have been on injured reserve with high ankle sprains; Mostert’s happened in a Week 6 win versus the Rams, and Wilson’s came a week later against the New England Patriots.

Mostert has a team-best 303 rushing yards despite playing in just four games. Wilson has 163 yards rushing in six games.

The 49ers also signed safety Chris Edwards to the active roster on Tuesday. Edwards offers additional depth after the Niners placed strong safeties Jaquiski Tartt and Johnathan Cyprien on injured reserve in recent weeks.

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