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Kemba Walker questionable, Robert Williams doubtful as Boston Celtics approach Game 4

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BOSTON — The CelticsKemba Walker is questionable for Sunday’s Game 4 against the Nets with a bone bruise in his left knee, while Robert Williams is doubtful with a sprained left ankle.

“Kemba was sore today,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after Saturday’s practice. “I think that he’ll go through stuff in the morning tomorrow and have a better idea on him.

“Rob’s doubtful. He probably won’t do anything in the morning and see how he feels as we get closer to game time. But you saw him last night, even in his stint, I thought he looked pretty limited. So we’re hopeful to have everybody available, but at least in Rob’s case, I’d say that’s probably doubtful.”

Walker popped up on the injury report for the first time before Game 3. While he played 34 minutes in Friday night’s 125-119 victory, one that brought the Celtics back to within 2-1 in this best-of-seven series, Walker struggled mightily, going 3-for-14 from the field and scoring just six points. He did grab eight rebounds but also had only three assists and five turnovers.

“It wasn’t really Kemba’s night offensively,” Jayson Tatum said after Game 3, in which he scored 50 points to carry Boston to a win. “But being out there with both groups being engaged, that won’t necessarily show up in the stat book, but we wouldn’t have won without him. Obviously, he’s going to respond. Expect a big game out of him on Sunday.”

Williams played six minutes before exiting with the sprained ankle, which occurred on the same leg that he has been dealing with pain from a case of turf toe for the past several weeks.

Before Game 3, Stevens said that Williams, who had nine blocks in Game 1, was Boston’s “wild card” in this series, as his athleticism and size is a potent weapon against Brooklyn’s soft interior defense. Now with Williams unlikely to play, Boston will need another effort from veteran big man Tristan Thompson like the one it got in Game 3, when he had 19 points and 13 rebounds in 30 minutes. The Celtics will try to even the series in front of a packed house Sunday night, as Boston’s COVID-19 restrictions were officially lifted Saturday.

“It was good, but I can’t f—ing wait until Sunday,” Thompson said after Game 3. “[Seventeen thousand fans], green, I’m going to see the leprechaun, I can’t wait.

“That’s what Boston is all about. That’s what the fans are about. They are going to give us that life, that juice, that energy. They haven’t seen us all in this arena in a long time, so I know everyone is excited. I can’t wait. I’m super excited.”

Jeff Green, meanwhile, remains out for the Nets with a plantar fascia strain in his left foot.

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Atlanta Hawks’ Onyeka Okongwu out about 6 months after shoulder surgery, sources say

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Atlanta Hawks center Onyeka Okongwu — the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft — underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder on Wednesday, and he will miss approximately six months, sources told ESPN.

Okongwu’s role grew as the season wore on for the Hawks, but a lingering injury beginning in May resulted in the need for the procedure. Renowned surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache of Kerlan-Jobe performed the procedure on Okongwu in Los Angeles, sources said.

Okongwu, 20, is expected to make a full recovery, sources said.

Training camps start in late September, and the 82-game regular season for 2021-22 commences in mid-October.

Okongwu played 50 regular-season games for the Hawks and averaged 9.2 minutes in 18 playoff games in the Hawks’ run to the Eastern Conference finals. Okongwu showed significant promise in earning more minutes behind starter Clint Capela as the season wore on.

The Hawks drafted Okongwu out of the University of Southern California, where he was a first-team All-Pac 12 performer in his one season of college basketball.

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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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