The Milwaukee Bucks powered into the second round of the NBA playoffs yesterday, three days after their refusal to take the court in the wake of a police shooting in Wisconsin brought the post-season to a halt.
Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 28 points and grabbed 17 rebounds and the Bucks led by as many as 21 on the way to a 118-104 victory over the Orlando Magic.
Milwaukee won the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series 4-1 to line up a second-round clash with the Miami Heat, who swept the Indiana Pacers 4-0.
In the Western Conference, Anthony Davis scored 43 points and LeBron James kept his perfect first-round playoff record alive as the Los Angeles Lakers beat Portland, 131-122, to clinch their series in five games.
James won all 14 playoff first-round series in which he has played.
“We knew this was a hot Portland team. We wanted to come in and get better and better as the series went on, and we did that,” said James.
Just days earlier there was a real chance that players would opt out of the remainder of the post-season in the NBA’s coronavirus quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.
The Bucks were prepared to forfeit game five against the Magic on Wednesday after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
But the Magic, and eventually the rest of the teams remaining in the bubble, backed their action, to launch hours of discussion among players, coaches and league officials on how they could unite to combat racial injustice and police brutality.
There was a somber mood to the restart with moment of silences before the games in memory of former Trail Blazers star Cliff Roberts, Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson and actor Chadwick Boseman, who all died this week.*AFP