Shawn Farhadian is a sophomore writing about the NBA and social justice. His column, “Dishing and Swishing,” runs every other Friday. Here’s what might be another problem, as proposed by former NBA forward Richard Jefferson: What if Giannis is more of a Scottie Pippen than a Michael Jordan? Does he need that extra superior star power to take him over Milwaukee’s playoff bumps? Milwaukee is already down 2-0 to the Miami Heat — a fifth seed in the east — in the Conference Semifinals. And to be honest, I’m not sure if I would be too surprised if they go down 3-0 Friday. Here’s the problem, though: The Bucks — and Giannis — don’t pass the eye test. At all. To put it bluntly, they are boring to watch. Miami’s young guards and wings, which include Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro, are outrunning and outshooting Milwaukee’s guards. They’re doing it by continuously finding and taking open shots, whereas the Bucks seem to try to force everything through Giannis. The Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Toronto Raptors, Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics lead the NBA in points, field goal percentage, three point percentage, free throw percentage, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks per game respectively. The answer to this question is thought provoking because although Jefferson could very well be right, the debate gets more complicated when you start to mull over options for Giannis. The Greek Freak is expected to test free agency after the playoffs, and Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports reported Thursday that it’s an “open secret” that Miami and Toronto are the leading candidates to land Giannis. However, this shouldn’t automatically warrant winning Defensive Player of the Year. Giannis finished No. 40 in the league in blocks per game and No. 98 in steals per game. His 6-foot-11 stature, 7-foot-3 wingspan and unreal athleticism clearly help him out, but why wasn’t Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis considered more, since he finished No. 16 in steals per game and third in blocks per game and helped the Lakers to the top seed in their conference? For the record, he was still in the top-22 in defensive rebounds and defensive win shares. Yes, Milwaukee is a defensive juggernaut: They lead the NBA in defensive rating, defensive rebounds and opponent points in the paint. Likewise, Giannis led the league in defensive rebounds and defensive win shares, which helped the Bucks win games. Although OKC and Utah are already eliminated from the playoffs, Milwaukee isn’t at the top of any single offensive statistic. The Bucks’ power lies in their defense. I just spit out a bunch of stats and names, but here’s what I’m really trying to get at: As spectacular of a defensive team the Bucks are, their offense isn’t good enough to outplay other defenses in the playoffs, including Miami’s. It’s not electrifying, and Giannis and shooting guard Khris Middleton take virtually every single shot as they are the only two Bucks to score more than 20 points per game this season. You know what they say: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Isn’t that right, Kevin Durant? Anyway, Milwaukee needs to perform better this series (and the next if they make it, somehow), and by better, I mean they need to be more exciting to watch. If they’re not going to play well through better ball movement and more points in transition, they’ll be in trouble sooner than they’d like. This isn’t to say that the Bucks are not a good team, because of course they’re good. For the regular season, the Bucks finished first in points and rebounds per game, third in field goal percentage and sixth in assists per game. Good offensive teams perform well in those categories. An easy start to fixing this problem is to get more points off turnovers; Milwaukee finished just 10th in that category this season despite its stellar defense. This standing is also behind the other three remaining Eastern Conference teams (Toronto, Boston and Miami), so forget about winning the Finals for a second. If they want to even get there in the first place to compete against a team like the Clippers or Lakers, they need to capitalize on forcing an eighth-best average of 14 turnovers per game. But haven’t you noticed that they don’t lead any particular offensive category? The Milwaukee Bucks finished the shortened 2019-20 regular season winning more than 75% of their games. In a top-heavy Eastern Conference, they finished out on top by 2.5 games. They lost only five games at home, and they did it all with the reigning MVP, current Defensive Player of the Year and four-time All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Bradford City pulled off one of the great League Cup shocks with a penalty shoot-out victory over Arsenal in front of an ecstatic home crowd.The League Two side prevailed 3-2 on spot-kicks, to the delight of a capacity Coral Windows Stadium. Gunners skipper Thomas Vermaelen missed the crucial penalty on a difficult night for the Premier League side, who have won only once in the last six matches in all competitions.Garry Thompson volleyed the hosts ahead, before Vermaelen headed home a Santi Cazorla cross at the back post with with only two minutes remaining of normal time.Defeat is another setback in a disappointing domestic season so far for manager Arsene Wenger and his club, who last won a major title in 2005.Victory for the Bantams means they have now won their last nine penalty shoot-outs and are the first team from the bottom tier of English football to reach the semi-final of the competition since Wycombe in 2006-07. Wenger had shown his intent with a starting XI that included just three changes from the side that beat West Brom on Saturday and 10 from the one that began the epic 7-5 win over Reading in the last round. French midfielder Francis Coquelin was the only survivor from that game.The last time the teams met was in the Premier League in January 2001, but they started Tuesday’s game 65 places apart in the league pyramid. Arsenal had the better of the opening exchanges, and both Vermaelen and Lukas Podolski spurned presentable headed opportunities.They were left to rue their wastefulness when Vermaelen brought down the lively Nahki Wells and Thompson volleyed home the resulting Gary Jones free-kick from close range to spark jubilation amongst nearly 24,000 supporters in the packed-out home stands.Coquelin came close to an equaliser for the two-time champions when his low volley beat Bantams keeper Matt Duke but not the post, before Gervinho managed to totally miss the ball when presented with an open goal from Gibbs’s low centre. But the first half belonged to Bradford, who have not lost a Cup game since a 4-2 defeat by Watford in the FA Cup third round in January. Wells nearly doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time but his low half-volley trickled just wide.The second half started in a scrappy fashion, with the hosts continuing to frustrate Arsenal with their energetic display.The top-flight side dominated possession, but passing errors and a lack of cutting edge continued to plague their game.Just when it looked like the team from the fourth tier were going to make the semi-final for the first time in their history, Vermaelen headed in a pinpoint cross from Cazorla to send the game into an extra 30 minutes.Neither side could find a winner so it was down to penalties and successful efforts from Nathan Doyle, Gary Jones and Alan Connell allied to misses from Cazorla, Chamakh and Vermaelen gave the Bantams a famous win.
With LeBron James going with Lakers, it has given them a new hope, even if the Lakers cast is raw, King James is so great that he has the capability to take the Lakers to the playoffs all by himself.Even if the Lakers have signed LeBron James, it doesn’t mean that Lakers are back at the top because as much as great LeBron is, he still has to win championships for them and James will have a difficult time getting to the conference finals now, because he would have to get past going through Golden State or Houston Rockets.The Lakers have won 16 NBA championships but have missed the playoffs for a franchise-record five straight seasons. James moving to the Western Conference almost certainly will change that. For the past five years, it didn’t seem that Los Angeles was irresistible anymore as star after star declined opportunities to join the Lakers. James eliminated the perception that L.A. has lost its desirability by signing this massive contract.However, Kings too needs support and to help Lakers get into the playoffs and possibly beat Warriors, lakers need to sign Kwahi Leonard and also LeBron must have signed with the Lakers because there was a big possibility that Kwahi might be joining them too. Leonard will be an unrestricted free agent after next season and has already stated that he will not play for any team outside of L.A.After LeBron, only players to have joined Lakers thus far are Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, and JaVale McGee.It’s no secret that Stephenson and Rondo have hated LeBron for years and McGee has been blocked by LeBron on Instagram. So only time will tell how productive will LeBron’s teammate be and if that would be enough to get Lakers through the Playoffs.In the past, LA has had their fair share of greats like Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Dwight Howard. But LeBron James is altogether a different scenario because going into the 16th season of his NBA career, he is the one person who is a virtual certainty to get Lakers the championship that they have longed for since the retirement of Kobe.Advertisement AdvertisementWhen it was announced that LeBron James has signed a 4 year $154 Million contract with the Lakers, it was a move which surprised everyone considering Lakers really don’t have the line up to compete against the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs. LeBron’s rivalry with the Warriors will go from a”Twice-a-year then meet-in- the-finals situation, to a four-times-a-year, battling-for-Western-Conference-and-California-supremacy” kind of relationship.LeBron James joining the Lakers could mean the end of Lonzo Ball’s time in Los Angeles. Though he’s a talented player, James has made it clear he has no respect for LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s father. LaVar Ball has taken on the King James, criticizing the way James has brought up his children and recently mocking James’ deal with Nike, saying that his three sons would become billionaires before James did.