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.
Inside Drumlins Country Club, it can be difficult to remember that Syracuse is among the snowiest cities in the United States.The seven courts, situated under an airplane hangar-type roof, remain dry year round as Syracuse is barraged with snow, rain and wind, allowing tennis players to enjoy controlled conditions.But, through April, SU balances two different schedules: the home, indoor circuit and its southern, outdoor destinations.The Orange enters the outdoor-heavy portion of its season Friday with a matchup at No. 19 Florida State (12-7, 4-5 Atlantic Coast), where Syracuse (14-3, 6-3) must adjust to the different pace of outdoor courts down south. Three of SU’s final five matches will be outdoors, including the ACC championships in Cary, North Carolina. Playing in Syracuse, SU has had little opportunity to practice outside due to unfavorable conditions.The adaptations players make for the wind and sun, combined with the differences in court speed, make the adjustment to southern play difficult, SU head coach Younes Limam said. Limam intended to practice outdoors starting April 2, but the rain, wind and cold forced SU to remain indoors. Syracuse is the only ACC school that doesn’t have outdoor courts available for matches.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhen SU arrives in Tallahassee, Florida, on Thursday, it will have light practice to acclimate to the differences of the outdoor courts. Because of Syracuse’s outdoor restrictions, the Orange hasn’t played outside since March 13, when it defeated Florida Atlantic 6-1.Against FAU, the wind frustrated Gabriela Knutson, forcing her to adjust her ball toss on her serve, she said, opting to toss the ball lower than usual, which sacrifices power for placement. Knutson lost to the nation’s No. 6 player, her only singles loss of the season.“When I toss it high, the wind and the sun bugs me,” Knutson said. “I’m not saying it’s why I lost, but it was difficult.”Most of SU’s players, including Knutson, Dina Hegab and Miranda Ramirez, grew up playing on outdoor hard and clay courts. They prefer playing outdoors, they said. Adjusting to faster indoor hard courts isn’t the tough part, Limam said.“There is quite an adjustment you have to make going from indoors to outdoors,” Limam said. “It’s a lot easier to come from outdoors to indoors.”Players like freshman Sofya Golubovskaya, who hits a flat ball with little spin and a lot of pace, face a bigger adjustment to outdoors where the wind messes with the ball before and after it makes contact the racket, making timing shots hard, Limam said.Hegab counters the wind and higher bounce by playing more conservatively, she said. Instead of trying to hit winners from all over the court, she uses improved fitness and consistency to force opponents into errors. Ramirez uses her footwork to prepare for potential late deviations to the ball’s path.“We try to remind them to put more spin on the ball, be a little more patient,” Limam said. “When you play indoors, you can finish points in two or three shots, outdoors the ball comes back.”Last season, the Orange finished 1-4 in outdoor matches. Limam is hoping that this year, his team is ready to deal with leaving Drumlins.“Being outdoors in the wind can be difficult,” Limam said. “We have to be ready to dig in and make a few extra shots.” Comments Published on April 5, 2018 at 10:25 am Contact Anthony: firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook Twitter Google+