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Wall to miss game vs. Hawks for personal reasons

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ATLANTA (AP) — Wizards guard John Wall is out for Wednesday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks because of personal reasons.

An All-Star the last five years, Wall will miss his first game of the season. He is averaging 21.3 points and 8.4 assists.

Wall’s 9.2 career assists average ranks second among active players.

The Hawks will be without starter Taurean Prince for the next three weeks after the forward injured his left ankle in Monday’s loss to Golden State.

Washington (10-14) has won two straight and four of six. Atlanta (5-19), riding a three-game losing streak, has the NBA’s third-worst record.

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Blogtable: Who’s feeling most pressure for Lakers these days?

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Who’s feeling the most pressure in L.A. right now: Jeanie Buss, Rob Pelinka or Frank Vogel? 

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Steve Aschburner:  Process of elimination says Rob Pelinka. Frank Vogel has no pressure as coach. He’s into his annuity contract now, having already banked more cash than he ever imagined he’d earn in his working lifetime. And he’s a relative babe stepping into a forest of well-known dysfunction, with assistant coach Jason Kidd ready for his close-up as Vogel’s particular Big Bad Wolf. No one’s going to blame him for anything. Jeanie Buss is taking some hits now over pretty obvious mismanagement of personnel, if not business operations, but she owns the company. Pelinka has been outed by Magic Johnson, who remains an icon to Lakers fans, and Kobe Bryant’s reflected glory won’t save him from whatever goes wrong next. He has run out of cover and he’s on the clock.

 

How can the Lakers recover in the wake of all their offseason drama?

Shaun Powell:  Let’s break this down into a matter of who-is and who-should. Ron Pelinka is feeling most of the heat because Magic Johnson threw him on the griddle and Pelinka isn’t well regarded by a segment of the league’s GMs. But Jeanie Buss should be feeling heat because this is her creation — however, as the owner, she can turn invisible and leave Pelinka and Frank Vogel to deal with the fallout.

John Schuhmann: I don’t know if Jeanie Buss is feeling pressure, because the Lakers are still the Lakers making a ton of money, despite the six-year playoff drought. But success and failure in this league starts at the top and it appears that Buss hasn’t been able to recognize the need for a entirely new and more robust basketball operations structure led by an experienced executive that will empower the people around him. Now, because she hasn’t made the proper changes, it’s on Pelinka to upgrade the talent around LeBron James and Vogel to make the most of whatever talent he’s been given come September. Between those two, there’s currently more pressure on Pelinka, given the lack of shooting on the existing roster.

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Blogtable: Would Bucks or Raptors match up better in Finals vs. Warriors?

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Who would match up better against the Warriors in The Finals: Raptors or Bucks?

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Steve Aschburner:  Toronto. And I thought this way even before the Raptors took a 3-2 series lead in the East finals Thursday night. Milwaukee’s defense is stretched thin enough against Toronto, so the Warriors’ firepower would be a huge problem. Especially when Kevin Durant returns, Golden State has defenders with whom it can swarm Giannis Antetokounmpo, even more effectively than the Raptors have or the Celtics (briefly) did. Draymond Green locked onto Giannis for four to seven games? Come on, that also would be a problem for Milwaukee. Frankly, I’m not sure either of East finalists would get the edge at even one spot in a position-by-position breakdown. The only reason I think the Warriors won’t sweep is, they’ll have to deal with some shifting of gears once Durant and maybe DeMarcus Cousins come back. Might cost ‘em a game.

Shaun Powell:  Go with the Bucks because not only do they have an elite player, they shoot 3-pointers and play decent defensively. Both teams match up well if the Warriors aren’t bringing Kevin Durant. Neither, however, matches up well if they are.

John Schuhmann:  Despite their performance in Games 3-5 of the Eastern Conference finals, it’s probably the Bucks. They’re bigger and they have a lot of guards that can defend Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson (to some degree of success, at least). Their defense does allow a lot of 3-point attempts, but they are good at forcing the right guys to shoot those 3-pointers. In fact, the 7.6 3-point attempts per 36 minutes that Curry averaged against the Bucks was his lowest rate against any opponent. Of course, Toronto’s defense has been fantastic throughout the playoffs, Kawhi Leonard has taken things to a new level, and the Raptors would also have a puncher’s chance against the champs.

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Milwaukee’s strengths turning into weaknesses in East finals

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A poor pass by Eric Bledsoe turned into a turnover off Malcolm Brogdon. Then the Bucks pressed Toronto hard, leaving Siakam alone on the baseline for a dunk that sealed it. But clearly, any two of those offensive boards — by a Bucks team that led the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage (80.3) — might have swung the momentum at the end and the outcome.

“We’ve got to get [them], find a way,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “All five guys gotta participate.”

Oh yeah, that reminds us: Milwaukee was a team that had nine guys participating earlier in this series, as well as in the rounds against Detroit and Boston. Budenholzer makes one tweak to his lineup, moving Brogdon back into a starting job in place of Nikola Mirotic, and poof! The bench produced only 15 points, 20 fewer than Toronto’s.

That leaves 3-point shooting as the most vital component of Milwaukee’s game suddenly gone fallow. This marked the seventh consecutive game in which the Bucks made a third or fewer of their 3-point attempts. They were 10-of-31 in Game 5, so 59-of-195 in this series.

That’s a 30.3-percent success rate, significant slippage from their 35.3-percent accuracy in the regular season. How significant? At 30.3 percent, the Bucks would have made 156 fewer 3-pointers. That’s 468 fewer points scored, which would have dropped Milwaukee from the league’s top scoring team (9,686) all the way down to No. 13.

More than that, the let-it-fly, live-by-the-3 ethos became part of their team’s bravado. Budenholzer believed that, even allowing for some chilly shooting nights, counting by threes would prevail at least four times in any seven games.

The Bucks still haven’t gotten shy about taking them. They just haven’t found a fix for making them.

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo addresses the Bucks’ Game 5 loss.

Some in the Milwaukee camp were bemoaning the number of uncontested looks their shooters missed in Game 4. Raptors coach Nick Nurse, without specifics readily available right after Game 5, thought his team might have yielded even more open looks Thursday.

Still, when the clangs mount to the point that a trend is apparent, you have to consider there is more in play than bum luck. Maybe tight game situations lead to nerves. Or desperation.

“It came be anything,” Nurse said. “I think it can be your defense is flying around a little bit and you’ve got them hearing footsteps. Or you’ve played a lot of minutes. I don’t know, maybe if it’s a big tall guy coming out at you and you aren’t that big.”

Right now, the only thing worse for Milwaukee than its 3-point percentage is 20 of 288 (6.9 percent). That’s how many NBA teams have opened up a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series, yet managed to lose anyway.

The team that never had lost three in a row was being reminded late Thursday of the prickly Celtics team they’d beaten two weeks ago, after Boston won the series opener, then went belly-up in the next four.

“We’re not gonna fold,” Antetokounmpo said. “We’re not gonna fold. We [were] the best team in the league, we’re not gonna fold. We’re gonna go give everything we’ve got. You’re not gonna go there and … even if they set a great tone [in Game 6] and hit us in the mouth first, you can’t fold.”

The Bucks star added: “Obviously, I’m pissed. I’m not going to lie to you. But you’ve just got to keep your head up. Keep having that confidence. Try to pick up your teammates and tell them they can do this. ‘We’ve got two more games to go, and we can do this.’”

 

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Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.



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