ATLANTA (AP) — The Milwaukee Bucks are headed back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1974.
They didn’t even need two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to lock up their spot.
Khris Middleton scored 32 points, including a run of 16 straight points in a decisive third quarter that carried the Bucks to a 118-107 victory over the upstart Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night.
Milwaukee won the series 4-2, advancing to face the Suns in the NBA Finals. Game 1 is Tuesday night in Phoenix.
Trae Young returned to the Hawks lineup after missing two games with a bone bruise in his right foot, but the young star never got anything going. After both teams struggled to find the range in the first half, the Bucks suddenly couldn’t miss in the third quarter.
Atlanta actually had a chance for its first lead of the game when Young’s behind-the-back pass gave Kevin Huerter an open look from 3-point range.
The shot rimmed out, and Middleton quickly ripped off the next 13 points to suddenly push the Milwaukee lead to 60-45.
Young broke up the one-man onslaught with a driving basket, but Middleton responded with a 3-pointer that gave him 16 straight points.
Middleton finished the quarter with 23 points, nearly outscoring the Hawks all by himself. Atlanta had 29 points in the period as Milwaukee headed to the final quarter with a commanding 91-72 lead.
Jrue Holiday added 27 points for the Bucks.
Cam Reddish, who missed much of the season with an Achilles injury, came off the bench to spark the Hawks. He scored 21 points — making six of seven 3-pointers — as the Hawks sliced a 22-point deficit down to six in the closing minutes.
But the Bucks finished it off, rekindling memories of the franchise’s early years when Milwaukee quickly became the center of the NBA world with a team led by two of the game’s greatest players, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson.
In Milwaukee’s third season in the league, the duo led the team to its only NBA title in 1971. The Bucks returned to finals three years later, only to lose to the Boston Celtics in seven games.
Robertson retired after that season and Abdul-Jabbar was dealt a year later to the Los Angeles Lakers, ending Milwaukee’s run as an elite franchise.
Now, the Bucks are back in the finals with a whole new group of stars. As they proved In the last two games against the Hawks, they’re certainly more than the Greek Freak.
With Antetokounmpo sidelined for the last two games of the series with a hyperextended left knee, the Bucks turned to his supporting cast to finish off Atlanta. Brooks Lopez had 33 points in Game 5, and three other starters scored at least 22.
Middleton and Holiday carried the load in the deciding game.
Despite a disappointing finish, the Hawks stamped themselves as a future force with a young group that knocked off the New York Knicks and t he top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers to surprisingly advance to the conference finals.
Mired at 14-20 when they fired coach Lloyd Pierce shortly before the All-Star break, Atlanta went on a run under interim coach Nate McMillan that carried the Hawks to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
The Hawks didn’t stop there, advancing to the conference finals for only the second time with Young leading the way.
After missing Games 4 and 5 with a bone bruise in his right foot, Young was cleared to play shortly before the game. The crowd went nuts when he was the introduced as the final member of the starting five.
“He’s baaaaack!” the public-address announcer screamed.
But, clearly, he wasn’t all the way back.
After a nearly week-long layoff, Young seemed tentative and all out of sorts. Sure, he flashed a bit of his old form on a couple of bursts to the basket, but five points in the first half was not at all what the Hawks had come to expect from their breakout star.
Young finished with just 14 points on 4-of-17 shooting.
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry
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Defiant Serena Williams takes aim at Wimbledon title – The Globe and Mail
Since she hasn’t done this for a while, Serena Williams was not in top press-conference form this weekend.
At her best, Williams may be the most electric speaker in sport. She bops between playfulness and simmering rage, often in the space of a single question. The way she stares through questioners puts most of them on the stammering defensive before they’ve said anything.
But now back at Wimbledon after what was essentially a sabbatical year, she lacked that mojo. Short answers. Less cheek. Zero flashes of annoyance.
Then a German reporter tossed her a softball: “What would be a good outcome for you?”
Williams is 40. She hasn’t played a meaningful singles match since blowing her hamstring at this tournament last year. She’s only here because Wimbledon gave her a free pass.
“Oh yes,” Williams said, like she’d been waiting for this one. She closed her eyes and lowered her voice to a purr. “You know the answer to that. Come on now.”
Laughter in the room. An amused eyeroll from the star.
Then someone else followed with the same question asked a slightly different way and Williams iced him with the same answer: “You guys know the answer to that.”
The tone made it very clear no one should try for a third.
Other questioners tried to draw her on Roe v. Wade and the Russia ban. Williams passed both times. It was a lesson to her colleagues throughout sport – there’s no law that says you must have a public opinion on everything.
Finally, here was the imperious Williams that we have missed. Now let’s see if that dominance can be transferred a few hundred feet onto the court.
Many sports stars dominate their little patch of the field, but few have controlled their whole environments the way Williams has. In the latter half of her career, it often seemed that she could beat opponents by Vulcan mind-melding them from distance. The match would be going their way. Williams would fix them with her thousand-yard stare. And then – whoop! – it’d be going Williams’s way.
Then the injuries started up. And the disappointments in major tournament finals. And the rock in her shoe that is Margaret Court’s 24 grand slam titles (Williams is stuck on 23).
Williams is the most dominating women’s player ever. You don’t need to understand tennis to understand that. All you need are eyes. But until the numbers fall her way, some dingdong is always going to say, “Yeah, sure, but …”
She has steadily denied it, but that appeared to get in Williams’s head. Her mien was still total control, but opponents no longer feared her. Broadcasters stopped mooning about her the whole way through matches. When they did tell Williams stories, they started having a “back in my day” feel. It must feel bizarre to have your professional obit written in real time while you’re still working. Here, she felt compelled to start off her presser with, “I didn’t retire.”
A year away won’t have helped any of that. Nor will the new job title. Everyone else she plays in her two weeks here – come on now – will be a tennis professional. Grinding it out on the tour 10 months a year, racking up the AmEx points.
Williams had been a tennis part-timer for a while, but now she’s more of an occasional worker. A dabbler, even. Her steady gig is as a venture capitalist.
“I’m currently out of the office for the next few weeks,” Williams said.
Her company raised more than US$100-million in seed money in the spring. It’s a good fit. I mean, are you going to say no to Serena Williams? And if you do, how do you plan on getting out of the room? She is a lot faster than you.
So now Williams is not only fighting younger, presumably fitter players, her age and a lack of practice. She’s taking on the whole idea of doing sports for a living. Though she will make money here, Williams has become an amateur. Because one way of defining that word is “someone who does something for fun.”
Williams is currently ranked 411th in the world. She’s not about to start climbing that ladder again. She’s doing this because she can and why not?
If she makes it through a couple of rounds, nobody’s going to feel weird about that. She’s Serena Williams. She can still win matches with The Look.
But if she puts a real dent in this tournament, the modern game is going to look slightly ridiculous. Everyone in it never shuts up about their up-when-it’s-still-dark workout routine and their strength coach and the sports psychologist who sleeps in a cot beside their bed. If the louche star of yesteryear who practises when he feels like it and enjoys a boozy night out were to time warp into the present day, he’d be shunned.
(Not that such players don’t still exist. Just that they’ve figured out they shouldn’t talk about it.)
So what would it say if Williams – her life full of other responsibilities, coming off a bad injury and only having swung a racket in anger as a doubles player about a week ago – were to excel here? It would put the lie to sport’s productivity cult.
When someone tried to put her on the spot about being spared a first-round match against world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, Williams’s expression flattened: “Every match is hard … and anyone could have been drawn to me.”
There have always been a bunch of reasons to be fascinated by Williams. She divides opinion, but two things cannot be argued – her quality and her charisma. She’s an all-timer in both instances. Her place at the top of the pyramid is already assured.
But floating into London in June on a working holiday, seemingly expecting to win Wimbledon? How great would that be? You guys know the answer to that.
Stanley Cup headed for repair shop after drop by Avalanche’s Aube-Kubel – Sportsnet.ca
It didn’t take long for the Stanley Cup to suffer some damage following the 2021-22 season.
Mere minutes after the Colorado Avalanche beat the Tampa Bay Lightning to claim the title on Sunday night, Avs forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel fell while skating with the Cup toward the traditional on-ice team photo.
Aube-Kubel dropped the Cup — and the result was predictable.
“I don’t even know if they even had it five minutes and there’s a dent at the bottom already,” Phil Pritchard, the Hockey Hall of Fame’s keeper of the Cup, said in an NHL Twitter post.
“Right in the middle of the team photo. It’s the third time the Avalanche have won it. I guess we have a little chat with them soon and go through the process of how we’re going to repair it and that. But the Stanley Cup tour will go on.”
Like all sports trophies, the Cup has taken its share of body blows over the years. But this one was unique.
“I guess it’s a new record today, five minutes into the presentation it has happened. It’s the first time it’s ever happened on the ice,” Pritchard said.
Alex Newhook Becomes Third Newfoundlander To Win The Cup – VOCM
Newfoundland and Labrador’s Alex Newhook is a Stanley Cup Champion.
The Colorado Avalanche finally dethroned the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning Sunday night, holding on for a 2 -1 victory and taking the series 4-2.
Newhook becomes the third Newfoundland player to win the Cup, following Daniel Cleary of Harbour Grace and Bonavista’s Michael Ryder.
Newhook had four points in 12 games this post-season and, at the age of 21, becomes the youngest player from this province to ever win the Cup.
Anticipation now builds toward this summer when it’s expected Newhook and the Cup will make the trip home.
— Shawn Newhook (@shawn_newhook) June 27, 2022
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 27, 2022
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