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Bradley Beal out vs. Atlanta Hawks on Monday with left hamstring strain

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Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal is out for Monday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks with a left hamstring strain, the team announced on Sunday.

Beal injured the hamstring late in Saturday’s 133-132 win over the Indiana Pacers. He checked out of the game with 21 seconds left in regulation and missed all of the overtime period after scoring 50 points.

“I knew it was a little tight in the second half,” said Beal on Saturday. “First play of the second, I twisted my ankle… I went back out there, my left hammy felt a little tight. I didn’t think anything of it, kept playing. I think the layup on [Doug] McDermott put us up one, it kind of intensified a little bit and then the floater I missed at the end, it definitely kind of put me over the top.”

The Wizards (32-36) play their next two games at Atlanta before returning home to face Cleveland and Charlotte. They lead the Pacers (31-36) by half a game for ninth place in the Eastern Conference and trail the Hornets (33-34) by 1.5 games for eighth.

Beal is also in a race with Stephen Curry for the scoring title this season. The two superstars traded monster games on Saturday night, with Curry scoring 49 points just hours after Beal’s 50-point game. The Wizards star is averaging 31.4 points per game this season, just 0.5 back of Curry’s average.

The Wizards will look to Russell Westbrook to pick up the slack in Beal’s absence. He has a chance to break Oscar Robertson’s career triple-double record in Monday’s game.

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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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Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul, 36, ready to ‘get back to work,’ not considering retirement after NBA Finals loss

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MILWAUKEE — The closest Chris Paul has ever got to the coveted championship that’s eluded him throughout his 16-year career ended up leaving him feeling still so far away from that initial title. The Milwaukee Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday, as the Suns became just the fifth team in Finals history to lose after starting the series up 2-0.

“It will take a while to process this or whatnot, but it’s same mentality,” Paul said after the Bucks’ 105-98 series clincher. “Get back to work. I ain’t retiring, if that’s what you’re asking. That’s out. So, back to work.”

The 36-year-old Paul finished with 26 points on 11-for-19 shooting and five assists in the championship finale, keeping the Suns in striking distance of Milwaukee — they trailed by just four points with 1:14 remaining — but it wasn’t enough to force a Game 7 back in Phoenix.

“Right now, you’re just trying to figure out what you could have done more,” Paul said. “It’s tough. Great group of guys, hell of a season, but this one is going to hurt for a while.”

Paul has a player option worth $44.2 million for next season, and while plenty of contenders around the league could use a point guard of his ilk to make a push next season — hello, Los Angeles Lakers — he didn’t sound like someone looking to leave a team stocked with young talent like Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton that took him two wins from the promised land that quickly.

“Everybody in that locker room knows we had enough, but it wasn’t enough,” Paul said. “So, we got to figure it out. I think for me, I just look at myself and figure out how can I get better, what I could have done more and make sure I come back next season ready to do it again.”

With the loss, Paul became the first player in league history to lose four playoff series in which his team held a 2-0 lead. But his coach, Monty Williams, pushed back against any criticism directed at his point guard after their shared Finals disappointment.

“It’s laughable when you talk about guys like Chris who have had these unreal careers and yet they get penalized because they haven’t won a title,” Williams said. “That was my goal, was to win it for him and Book; those guys have carried us all year long. And Chris, this is my second time coaching him; I know what he puts into his craft, I know the dedication. And so when I hear those sentiments about his career because he hasn’t won a championship, it’s just silly. It’s hard enough to make it to the NBA, let alone be an all-time great, which is what he is.”

Booker, who dropped two 40-point games in the series but struggled in Game 6 with 19 points on 8-for-22 shooting and six turnovers — including going 2-for-7 in the fourth quarter, when the Bucks pulled away after it was tied 77-77 after three — said the Suns’ playoff run set a new standard for the franchise.

“Championship basketball and nothing less than that,” as Booker described it, after Phoenix made the postseason for the first time in 11 years. “So, going into next season on a Tuesday night playing against Cleveland, if we don’t have it, we will be quickly reminded about the details. And if you don’t want to give it your all right now, what can happen and this feeling right now that we’re feeling can happen.

“So, this isn’t something you want to feel. I haven’t felt a hurt like this in my life. So, that’s what I say when I know we have a base and a foundation, just championship basketball at all times.”

Williams fought back tears during his postgame remarks when asked what it was like in the moment to process the result of a Suns season that fell just short.

“I think it’s going to take me a minute,” Williams said, his voice getting caught in his throat. “I just don’t take it for granted. It’s hard to get here, and I wanted it so bad, you know. It’s hard to process right now. It’s hard. That’s all.”

Summing up the alchemy of the Suns group, however, it wasn’t all sorrow for the team that ousted the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, swept league MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, eliminated the LA Clippers and gave the Bucks all they could handle with a title on the line.

“Even though we lost,” Ayton said as he bounded out of the interview room, “it was still fun.”

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Brooklyn Nets open as 2021-22 NBA title favorites; Lakers, Bucks next

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Fresh off seeing an NBA champion crowned Tuesday night, oddsmakers have posted the Brooklyn Nets (+225) and Los Angeles Lakers (+400) as the betting favorites for the 2021-22 season.

The champion Milwaukee Bucks, who wrapped up the franchise’s first title since 1971 with a six-game Finals victory over the Phoenix Suns, have the next shortest odds at +900.

“This season, the Nets and Lakers drew so much more money than any other team,” Nick Bogdanovich, William Hill U.S. director of trading, told ESPN, reinforcing how liability on popular teams will always drive odds.

Bogdanovich also indicated that talent is a factor.

“In a normal year, if those guys stay somewhat healthy, they definitely figure to be the best team,” Bogdanovich said of the Nets.

Perennial All-Stars Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving played only eight regular-season games together for Brooklyn. The Nets’ playoff run was disrupted in the Eastern Conference semifinals when Irving suffered an ankle injury and Harden battled a hamstring injury. They ultimately lost to the Bucks in overtime of Game 7.

In recent years, free agency has played an enormous role in the futures market. Sharp bettors have occasionally caught oddsmakers off guard, anticipating significant signings and pouncing on long odds, but this summer figures to be relatively quiet. Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul both can become free agents, as they hold player options on their current contracts. However, Leonard will be coming off surgery for a torn ACL, and Paul is 36.

“We are anticipating that there will be more impact in the trade market than the free agent market,” Las Vegas SuperBook assistant manager and head NBA oddsmaker Jeff Sherman told ESPN. “Who knows if [Damian] Lillard is going to get dealt. If he ends up getting traded, then that would be bigger than any free agent out there.”

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons could also be traded, given how his postseason shooting struggles contributed to the conference’s top seed losing in seven games to the Atlanta Hawks in the East semifinals. The Sixers (18-1) would undoubtedly receive talent in return.

Phoenix reached the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993 and nearly cashed as title longshots in the neighborhood of 50-1. However, the Suns won’t sneak up on oddsmakers this time with 15-1 odds, which are the fifth-shortest.

“I don’t know what Chris Paul has left in the tank,” Bogdanovich said. “[Devin] Booker and [Deandre] Ayton are great to build around. This year was no fluke.”

The Golden State Warriors (10-1) did not even reach the playoffs, but they hold the fourth-shortest odds. Sharpshooter Klay Thompson is expected to return from an Achilles injury, and the Warriors could package their two lottery picks for a top-tier established player that would help them compete in the short term. Two-time MVP Stephen Curry is 33, and three-time All-Star Draymond Green is 31.

The preseason betting favorite has won the NBA title in four of the past six seasons. Over the past 35 seasons, only four teams have won the championship with odds of 15-1 or longer.

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