Bucks beat Hawks, head to NBA Finals for 1st time since 1974

The Milwaukee Bucks team celebrate after winning the NBA Eastern Conference Finals after beating the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 on July 3, 2021. (Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)
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Updated 05 July 2021

Bucks beat Hawks, head to NBA Finals for 1st time since 1974

  • The Bucks didn’t even need Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was sidelined after an injury during Game 4
  • Game 1 against the West champion Suns is Tuesday night in Phoenix.

ATLANTA: The Milwaukee Bucks were an instant success in the NBA, winning a championship in just their third season and reaching the finals again three years later.
Nearly a half-century later, they finally have a shot at another title.
Khris Middleton scored 32 points, including a run of 16 straight in a decisive third quarter that carried the Bucks to a 118-107 victory over the upstart Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night.
Milwaukee won the series 4-2, advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1974. Game 1 against the West champion Suns is Tuesday night in Phoenix.
The Bucks didn’t even need Giannis Antetokounmpo to lock up their spot. The two-time MVP missed his second straight game with a knee injury, but Middleton & Co. had his back.
Jrue Holiday added 27 points and four other players scored in double figures.
Antetokounmpo cheered them on from the bench.
“One of the biggest things we did the last two games was play for him,” said Pat Connaughton, who had 13 points and eight rebounds. “We do have a true team.”
Trae Young returned to the Hawks lineup after missing two games with a bone bruise in his right foot, but the young star never got anything going. After both teams struggled to find the range in the first half, the Bucks suddenly couldn’t miss in the third quarter.
Especially Middleton.
Atlanta actually had a chance for its first lead of the game when Young’s behind-the-back pass gave Kevin Huerter an open look from 3-point range.
The shot rimmed out, and Middleton quickly ripped off the next 13 points to suddenly push Milwaukee’s edge to 60-45.
Young broke up the one-man onslaught with a driving basket, but Middleton responded with a 3-pointer that gave him 16 straight Milwaukee points.
Middleton finished the quarter with 23 points, nearly outscoring the Hawks all by himself. Atlanta had 29 points in the period as Milwaukee headed to the final quarter with a commanding 91-72 lead.
“My teammates and my coaches, they told me to keep being aggressive,” Middleton said. “I love it. Each one of these guys, they work every single day. Everybody stays ready. Everybody stays locked in. We all play for each other. And that’s all you can ask for.”
Cam Reddish, who missed much of the season with an Achilles injury, came off the bench to spark the Hawks. He scored 21 points — making six of seven 3-pointers — as the Hawks sliced a 22-point deficit down to six in the closing minutes.
“The message was, ‘No regrets. We don’t want any regrets. .... Empty the tank,’” said Nate McMillan, the Hawks interim coach. “And they did.”
But the Bucks finished it off, rekindling memories of the franchise’s early years when Milwaukee quickly became the center of the NBA world with a team led by two of the game’s greatest players, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson.
The duo led the team to its only NBA title in 1971. The Bucks returned to finals in ‘74, only to lose to the Boston Celtics in seven games.
Robertson retired after that season and Abdul-Jabbar was dealt a year later to the Los Angeles Lakers, ending Milwaukee’s run as a glamor franchise.
Now, the Bucks are back in the finals with a whole new group of stars. As they proved in the last two games against the Hawks, they’re certainly more than the Greek Freak.
With Antetokounmpo sidelined by a hyperextended left knee, the Bucks turned to his supporting cast to finish off Atlanta. Brook Lopez had 33 points in Game 5, and three other starters scored at least 22.
Middleton and Holiday carried the load in the deciding game.
“These guys have put the work in all year. They deserve to go to the finals,” said Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer, who previously coached the Hawks. “We’ve got more work to do.”
Despite a disappointing finish, the Hawks stamped themselves as a future force with a young group that knocked off the New York Knicks and the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers to surprisingly advance to the conference finals.
Mired at 14-20 when they fired coach Lloyd Pierce shortly before the All-Star break, Atlanta went on a run under McMillan that carried the Hawks to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
They didn’t stop there, advancing to the conference finals for only the second time with Young leading the way.
“We all understand this is just beginning,” Young said. “It was fun to have this city excited. We want to keep it like that.”
After missing Games 4 and 5 with a bone bruise in his right foot, Young was cleared to play shortly before tipoff Saturday night. The crowd went nuts when the charismatic point guard was the introduced as the final member of the starting five.
“He’s baaaaack!” the public-address announcer screamed.
But, clearly, he wasn’t all the way back.
After a nearly week-long layoff, Young seemed tentative and out of sorts. Sure, he flashed a bit of his old form on a couple of bursts to the basket, but 14 points on 4-of-17 shooting was not at all what the Hawks had come to expect from their breakout star.
“I just wanted to battle and try to fight through it as much as I could, try to be out there for my team,” Young said. “But it was definitely frustrating not being healthy and not being able to give my full 100 percent.”

TIP-INS
Bucks: With the Hawks focused on doing a better job in the lane, Lopez was held to 13 points. ... Bobby Portis had 12 points and nine rebounds in his second straight start for Antetokounmpo. ... Jeff Teague, who played for the Hawks when they reached the conference final in 2015, scored 11 points in just over 12 minutes of playing time off Milwaukee’s bench.
Hawks: Huerter, the surprising star of Atlanta’s Game 7 win over Philadelphia, closed the season with only five points on 2-of-10 shooting. ... Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 20 points. ... Atlanta finished 38 of 92 (41.3 percent) from the field.

UGLY HALF
Neither team seemed capable of winning in the first half.
Atlanta made only 15 of 49 shots (30.6 percent), including 4 of 16 from beyond the 3-point arc, with nine turnovers. The Bucks weren’t much better, connecting on 17 of 44 (38.6 percent) overall and just 5 of 19 outside the stripe. Milwaukee turned it over 10 times, split evenly between Middleton and Holiday.
Appropriately, the half ended with Atlanta’s Clint Capela missing right under the basket off a lob pass from Bogdanovic, sending the Bucks to the locker room with a 47-43 lead.

PLAYING WITH THE LEAD
Amazingly, there were no lead changes over the final three games of the series.
The Hawks never trailed in Game 4, romping to a 110-88 victory. Milwaukee returned the favor in Game 5, building a 20-point lead in the first quarter and staying out front all the way in a 123-112 triumph.
It was more of the same in the deciding game, which the Bucks led from start to finish.
 


Flood deaths in India and Nepal cross 150

Updated 1 min 28 sec ago

Flood deaths in India and Nepal cross 150

  • In Nainital, a popular tourist destination in the Himalayan state, the town’s main lake broke its banks
  • India’s federal interior minister Amit Shah is set to survey affected areas on Thursday
NEW DELHI: More than 150 people have died in flooding across India and Nepal, officials said on Thursday, as unseasonably heavy rains across the region led to flash floods in several areas, stranding residents and destroying homes and infrastructure.
The north Indian state of Uttarakhand has been especially badly-hit, with 48 confirmed deaths, SA Murugesan, secretary of the state’s disaster management department told Reuters.
In Nainital, a popular tourist destination in the Himalayan state, the town’s main lake broke its banks, submerging the main thoroughfare and damaging bridges and rail tracks. And rescuers from India’s paramilitary National Disaster Response Force were evacuating residents from communities hit by landslides.
India’s federal interior minister Amit Shah is set to survey affected areas on Thursday.
Some 42 people have died in the last week in the southern Indian state of Kerala, according to a statement from the chief minister’s office.
In neighboring Nepal, at least 77 people have died.
India’s annual monsoon rains usually run from June to September.

Israel reports subvariant of Delta coronavirus strain

Updated 2 min 55 sec ago

Israel reports subvariant of Delta coronavirus strain

  • An 11-year-old boy arriving from Europe was the carrier
  • The variant was discovered as Israel considers loosening restrictions on tourism

JERUSALEM: Israel has confirmed a case of a sub-variant of the Delta strain of the coronavirus previously reported in some European countries, the health ministry said.
“The variant AY 4.2. that has been discovered in a number of countries in Europe has been identified in Israel,” a ministry statement said late Tuesday.
An 11-year-old boy arriving from Europe was the carrier, the ministry said, adding that the case was identified at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. The boy was quarantined and no further contacts have been discovered, the ministry said.
The AY 4.2. variant has turned up several times in the United Kingdom.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held an emergency meeting on Wednesday with health ministry officials and announced that Israel would take measures “to preserve the positive results of the fight against the virus,” a statement from his office said.
Bennett requested that an epidemiological investigation into the new variant be bolstered, and urged liaison with other countries where the sub-variant has been detected.
Changes to entry requirements for visitors would also be considered.
Francois Balloux, professor of computational systems biology at University College London, has said that the subvariant is rare and does not appear to pose the same risk of significantly increased transmission as other strains.
The variant was discovered as Israel considers loosening restrictions on tourism following a drop in cases.
An earlier plan to reopen the borders foundered amid a rise in cases driven by the Delta strain.
In late August and early September, new cases topped 11,000 a day.
Authorities launched an aggressive campaign to inoculate citizens with a third, booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which drove down infections.


Ukraine’s new daily coronavirus cases, deaths hit record

Updated 28 min 16 sec ago

Ukraine’s new daily coronavirus cases, deaths hit record

  • There were also 546 new deaths, surpassing the Oct. 19 record of 538
  • Ministry data showed 22,415 new cases over the past 24 hours

KYIV: Ukraine registered a record daily high of new coronavirus infections and related deaths, the health ministry said on Thursday.
Ministry data showed 22,415 new cases over the past 24 hours, exceeding the previous high of 20,341 on April 3.
There were also 546 new deaths, surpassing the Oct. 19 record of 538.


India administers its billionth COVID-19 jab

Updated 21 October 2021

India administers its billionth COVID-19 jab

  • Around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people has had one shot

NEW DELHI: India administered its billionth Covid-19 vaccine dose on Thursday, according to the health ministry, half a year after a devastating surge in cases brought the health system close to collapse.
According to the government, around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people has had one shot and around 30 percent are fully vaccinated.


Pakistan can be kings again despite India’s IPL riches, says Nazar 

Updated 21 October 2021

Pakistan can be kings again despite India’s IPL riches, says Nazar 

  • Starting in 2008, a year after the inaugural T20 World Cup, the IPL ushered in a new era of white-ball cricket 
  • Pakistan once had a far better head-to-head record against India who played catch up with their arch-rivals from 2000 onwards 

DUBAI: Former Pakistan all-rounder Mudassar Nazar insists his country will once again be the kings of Asian cricket despite India’s rise as world beaters on the back of the riches of the IPL. 
Pakistan were kings of the sub-continent from the mid-1980s to 1990s with their on-field brilliance under Imran Khan, who led them to the 1992 World Cup, before India turned the tables. 
“I don’t think Pakistan has changed. It is India who have changed,” Nazar told AFP ahead of the eagerly-awaited India-Pakistan clash at the Twenty20 World Cup in Dubai on Sunday. 
“With the advent of the IPL they have used the money really, really well. If you look at the domestic competition in India, look at all the associations, how well they are organizing their cricket. 
He added: “Everybody has got their own stadium, their own academies, school cricket, state cricket. Cricket is thriving in India. 
“But the people who have been consistently doing well have been England and Australia...India is in the forefront and among the three best sides in the world.” 
Starting in 2008, a year after the inaugural T20 World Cup, the IPL ushered in a new era of white-ball cricket that witnessed the game break new ground in viewership and fan base.

The IPL emerged as the world’s richest T20 league with its brand value estimated at $6.7 billion in 2019 by the Duff and Phelps financial consultancy.

At the same time, Pakistan was becoming a no-go zone for international cricket following the 2009 terror attack on the visiting Sri Lanka team.
“The BCCI have been very clever in how they used the IPL money. Indian cricket was powerful before that but since then it has seen a lot of consistency,” said Nazar. 
“They have got all the areas covered. You talk about fast bowling, you talk about spinners, fielding, the physical side, it’s a powerhouse. They seem to be getting top class batsmen every season. At the moment they are looking very formidable.”

But Nazar remains hopeful that the Pakistan Super League (PSL) — the nation’s premier T20 tournament — and new management will revive the game.

“It is also a matter of cycles. One decade we could be better than the rest of the world and then somebody else catches up,” said Nazar, who played 76 Tests between 1976 and 1989 with a batting average of over 38. 
He also sees a bright future under new PCB chairman Ramiz Raja.
“Things have started to improve with the PSL, but it will take time. It took time for India to revive.” 
“There is no club cricket and there is hardly any state cricket, so that’s a stumbling block. 
“But now with the new management coming in, Ramiz is a former cricketer and I think he will shape things better, put us on the right path and in the next couple of years probably we will be as strong as we used to be.” 
Pakistan once had a far better head-to-head record against India who played catch up with their arch-rivals from 2000 onwards. 
Nazar, who had been part of that strong Pakistan set-up, said the national team will someday turn a corner and notch up their first win against India in a World Cup. 
“When we were playing we always had the edge and toward the end of my career we won most games against India than we lost,” said the 65-year-old Nazar. 
“It needs somebody to come up with some brilliance. Somebody has a damn good game. Somebody has a decent century and bowls a decent spell and all of a sudden the tables will turn.”