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Brooklyn Nets’ Steve Nash says there’s ‘a high probability’ Kevin Durant (hamstring) returns this week

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NEW YORK — There is a “high probability” that Kevin Durant will return to the court this coming week after missing more than seven weeks with a hamstring strain, Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash said Saturday.

Nash said there is a chance Durant could play as soon as Monday against the New York Knicks.

“I am not certain on Monday,” Nash said. “I think it’s an outside possibility, but I also couldn’t say he’s in any stretch probable for Monday. I think it’s just wait and see. But it does look positive that this week sometime, there’s a high probability he can return.”

Durant last played on Feb. 13 against the Golden State Warriors. Since then, the Nets have added veterans Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge to their roster. The Nets’ Big Three of Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden have played just seven games together since Harden was traded to Brooklyn in mid-January.

On Thursday, Durant said that he is feeling “great” in his rehabilitation and that he is “progressing pretty well” toward returning to the court.

“Initially, I didn’t think it was that bad, just a regular strain,” Durant said. “Then we got a second scan and they say it was a little deeper than that. It was one of those things where I’m not feeling a ton of pain, but you don’t want to force one of these injuries and make it worse.”

Durant went on to say that he felt he had to be “smart” and “cautious” with his hamstring. Before Durant was sidelined, he was averaging 29.0 points, 7.3 rebound and 5.3 assists.

When the former league MVP returns, the Nets will be tasked with quickly building chemistry on the fly before the playoffs begin in mid-May. Nash feels the friendships the group has built off the court should aid the players in meshing well on the floor. Still, Nash said the entire roster needs to play some games together so the Nets can iron out a rotation and jell before the postseason begins.

Nash said he also felt the team needed to play through challenging games, some close games, together and “face some adversity,” so that they have some familiarity before they find themselves facing that in a playoff game.

“I think a lot of first-year teams struggle to compete for a championship if for no other reason than that collective history and experience,” Nash said. “So, that’s something we have to accept and have to overcome.”

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Gains sizable in NBA Finals ratings from last year, but fourth-lowest average since 1997

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NEW YORK — Television ratings for the NBA Finals and playoffs posted sizable increases over last year. But that was the only good news for the NBA as far as viewer numbers.

According to Nielsen, the NBA and ABC on Wednesday, the six-game series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns averaged 9.91 million viewers, a 32% increase over last year’s series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, which also went six games. However, the average makes it the fourth-lowest since 1997.

The Lakers-Heat series — which was played in October in the Orlando bubble after the coronavirus pandemic pushed the season back five months — averaged only 7.45 million.

San Antonio‘s 2007 four-game sweep of Cleveland (9.29 million) and the Spurs’ six-game victory over New Jersey in 2003 (9.83 million) are the other series to average fewer than 10 million since 1997.

The numbers were also down 34.5% compared to two years ago, when the TorontoGolden State series averaged 15.14 million.

Milwaukee’s 105-98 victory over Phoenix on Tuesday night attracted the most viewers in the series, averaging 12.52 million. The audience peaked between 11:30 p.m. and 11:45 p.m. EDT at 16.54 million. Only two games in the series averaged 10 million or more.

This year’s playoffs averaged 4.25 million, up 35% over last year but down 18% compared to 2019.

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Two shootings leave 3 wounded in Milwaukee during celebration of Bucks’ NBA championship

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MILWAUKEE — Two shootings in downtown Milwaukee early Wednesday as crowds celebrated the Milwaukee Bucks‘ first NBA championship in 50 years left three people wounded, police said.

The shootings both happened about 12:42 a.m. at two locations near Water Street, police said in a statement. TV station WISN had a reporter broadcasting from the scene when multiple shots were heard, prompting people to flee.

The shootings were across the Milwaukee River from Fiserv Forum, where the game was played, and the Deer District plaza, where a crowd of roughly 65,000 had gathered for an outdoor watch party. The area where the shootings took place is on a street heavily populated with bars and restaurants.

During Tuesday night’s game, a police officer was trampled by people trying to get into the Deer District watch party after the area had reached capacity, Milwaukee police Capt. Jesús Ortiz said in an email. The officer didn’t sustain any major injuries but reported being in general pain, Ortiz said.

Following one of the shootings, a 22-year-old man had non-life-threatening injuries, police said, and a suspect was in custody.

In the other shooting, which police said happened simultaneously, a 19-year-old woman and a 32-year-old man had non-life-threatening injuries. One person was in custody and other suspects were being sought, police said.

The two shootings, which were in the immediate area of the celebrations, likely were what was heard during the TV coverage, Ortiz said.

The celebrations came after Giannis Antetokounmpo capped one of the greatest NBA Finals ever with 50 points as Milwaukee beat the Phoenix Suns 105-98 to win the series 4-2.

Fans who packed the streets surrounding the arena had cheered and danced all night as they watched the game on giant video screens, and the massive crowd erupted in jubilation as the game ended. A few fans climbed light poles in the plaza and others jumped off a bridge into the nearby river as fireworks exploded above the arena.

Joy Smith, 50, of Milwaukee, danced after the final buzzer. “Milwaukee is underrated, but we proved to the world we could do it,” she told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Another fan, Sabrina Holland, 37, of Milwaukee, called it “epic.” She said: “Everyone who’s anyone is here.“

Before the game, and at the city’s request, Gov. Tony Evers mobilized 150 National Guard members to help in Milwaukee with traffic control and public safety.

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Sports world reacts to Milwaukee Bucks winning first NBA title since 1971

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The Milwaukee Bucks are the 2020-21 NBA champions and have snapped a 49-year title drought, the league’s fifth longest entering this season.

This ring proved to be hard-fought as Milwaukee is just the third team in Finals history to win four straight after trailing 2-0, joining the 2006 Miami Heat and 1977 Portland Trail Blazers. Giannis Antetokounmpo joined Bob Pettit as the only players in NBA history to score 50 points in a finals clincher.

As the franchise and fans celebrate their long-awaited championship, let’s relive some of the best social media moments from the Bucks’ title-clincher.

Antetokounmpo joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players in Bucks history to be named Finals MVP. He and his teammates had several notable viewers excited to share their congratulations.




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