Bucks, Giannis Prep For Pivotal Game 4 Monday
By TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer
MIAMI (AP) — Win Game 1, lose Game 2, win Game 3.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat have followed the same path to 2-1 leads in their respective first-round series — and on Monday night, both will hope to break that win-one-lose-one trend and grab command of their matchups.
The seventh-seeded Lakers play host to the second-seeded Memphis Grizzlies in Game 4 of their Western Conference series, while the eighth-seeded Heat — who lost Victor Oladipo for the season in Saturday’s win — play host to the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in Game 4 of that Eastern Conference matchup.
“You have to respect championship DNA. They have it,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the Bucks on Sunday. “They have guys that have been through the battle, have been through the wars. It’s not like they’re going to get sick at sea because they’re down 2-1. They’ll just go and focus on doing what they have to do to try to get tomorrow and that’s what our focus is as well. It’s competition. You got to put yourself out there and do we have to do.”
The Bucks are waiting to see if Giannis Antetokounmpo — who bruised his lower back in the first half of Game 1, then didn’t play in Games 2 or 3 — can play Monday. The Bucks didn’t practice Sunday, but Antetokounmpo did some on-court work in an effort to determine what he might be able to do in Game 4.
“He is the constant. He is the key and he always wants to make himself available,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Sunday.
No final decision is expected on Antetokounmpo until Monday.
Miami used a 19-0 early run to take control of its win on Saturday night. The Lakers — quite possibly steamed a bit by some comments Memphis’ Dillon Brooks made about LeBron James — left no doubt right away, grabbing a 38-9 lead to open the game.
“I don’t need to make statements,” James said.
Correct, but he and the Lakers made one anyway — and they can make an even bigger one with a win on Monday.
“The way our guys fought for quarters two, three, and four showed a lot of great resiliency,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said, noting that his team erased most of the 29-point deficit and made things a bit interesting before losing 111-101. “We’ve got to learn and get better from this. Adversity’s going to get the best out of us.”
BUCKS AT HEAT
Miami leads 2-1. Game 4, 6:30 p.m. CDT, TNT.
— NEED TO KNOW: This is the 12th time that a No. 8 seed has taken a 2-1 lead over a No. 1 seed in this playoff format; the higher seed rallied to win in seven of the previous 11 such situations.
— KEEP AN EYE ON: The 3-point line. Milwaukee has made 125 3-pointers in seven games against Miami this season — outscoring the Heat by 123 points in that span from beyond the arc. But the Heat have won four of the seven games so far.
— INJURY WATCH: Milwaukee is waiting to see if Antetokounmpo (lower back contusion in Game 1) can play or will sit a third consecutive game. He has played 53 of a possible 336 minutes against Miami this season. Oladipo (torn left patellar tendon in Game 3) is out for the rest of the season for Miami, as is Tyler Herro (broken right hand in Game 1). Jimmy Butler (bruised glute in Game 3) indicated that he will play Monday.
— PRESSURE IS ON: Milwaukee. Going down 3-1 to Butler and the Heat would be a bad plan, even for a No. 1 seed.