The Milwaukee Bucks are in a hole the size of the Grand Canyon.
They are down 2-0 to the Miami Heat in an NBA Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series and certainly realize the odds of winning the series are almost insurmountable.
History tells us only a small percentage of teams have crawled their way out of a daunting 2-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven game series. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there have been 313 seven-game series. Just 21 times has a team trailing 2-0 gone on to win the series.
Yet, there is a slight ray of hope for the Bucks. They can draw inspiration from last season’s EC Finals. That’s when they grabbed a 2-0 lead over the Toronto Raptors, only to see the Raptors stage an amazing comeback and win the next four games.
NBA players considered venturing to Kenosha
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump paid a visit to Kenosha in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake., who is now paralyzed.
On Thursday, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden traveled to Kenosha.
But before Trump and Biden came to the city in southeastern Wisconsin, some NBA players almost did.
According to sources, during a NBA players meeting last week in Orlando, it was suggested the players call it a season. That, according to sources, prompted a player to suggest the players, instead of going home to their family or friends or going on vacation, all head to Kenosha in a show of solidarity.
But the idea of going to Kenosha never got any real traction, the source said, as the players decided to resume playing.
Ersan Ilyaosva played a nice role off the bench for the Bucks during the regular season.
The veteran forward played in 61 games, averaging 6.6 points, 4.8 rebounds in 15.7 minutes. He shot 37 percent from beyond the arc.
In the playoffs, though, Ilyasova has been glued to the bench. He played spot minutes in the opening round series against Orlando, getting a meager 23 minutes. Now, in the semifinals against Miami, Ilyasova hasn’t played a single minute in two games.
What a contrast from last season when Ilyasova played significant minutes in all six of the Bucks’ EC Finals games against Toronto. In that series, the fewest minutes Ilyasova played in any game was 11. In two games, he played 21 minutes.
Instead of continuing to give Ilyasova decent minutes in this year’s playoffs, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer has opted to use Marvin Williams. It has brought mixed results.
Williams played solidly off the bench in the Orlando series, but has been a non-factor against Miami. He went 2 for 5 in the first game and then went 1-for -6 in Game 2. He has misfired on all four of his 3-point attempts.
While Budenholzer’s decision to pull Ilyasova out of the rotation is baffling, it’s becoming more evident Ilyasova isn’t likely to be on the Bucks’ roster next season. The team has an option on Ilyasova’s $7 million deal for next season but probably won’t exercise it because of luxury tax repercussions.
Around the league
- While Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham has been linked to the vacant Chicago Bulls head coaching position, I’m hearing Wes Unseld Jr. and Kenny Atkinson are the frontrunners. Ime Udoka has also been prominently mentioned in the Bulls’ search.
- Indiana Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard said he intends to cast a wide net to find a replacement for the fired Nate McMillan. Pritchard said he’s even going to explore the college ranks. If he does, three highly regarded coaches could draw consideration: Virginia’s Tony Bennett, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Bill Self of Kansas.
Izzo has turned down a few NBA gigs before but is apparently receptive to making a move to the pros, sources said. As for Bennett, he’s also drawn keen interest from some NBA teams in recent years. Several of his Virginia players now in the NBA, including Brooklyn’s Joe Harris and Justin Anderson and Indiana’s Malcolm Brogdon have raved about Bennett’s coaching ability and high character.
Self and Pritchard have a Kansas connection. While Self has been the Jayhawks’ head coach since 2003, Pritchard played for Kansas from 1986-1990.
Current Houston coach Mike D’Antoni, who is expected to leave the Rockets upon completion of the playoffs, appears to be the Pacers’ primary target.
- The status of Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan remains unsettled. Some NBA folks contend Donovan may return to college to coach, or possibly pursue the vacant New Orleans Pelicans head job.
- — Many NBA officials are convinced Clippers assistant coach Tyronn Lue is the clear frontrunner for the vacant 76ers head coaching job.
- — While Luke Walton seemingly will be retained by Sacramento, whispers persist he’s still on the hot seat.
- I can’t believe Sam Cassell isn’t piquing more interest as head coaching timber. Cassell, an assistant coach for Clippers, has an incredibly high basketball IQ and, just as importantly, has an uncanny ability to relate to players. There has been conjecture Cassell is in the mix for the Pelicans job or could possibly join Lue in Philly, if the latter lands the job.
- One player to keep an eye on for the draft: Kira Lewis. The ultra quick Alabama point guard has seen his stock soar and could end up being a fringe lottery pick. Not only does Lewis have game, he’s got a big upside as he’s just 19 years old.
- Speaking of the draft, an NBA executive claims the Cleveland Cavaliers have had zoom sessions with more than a 100 prospects. Only 60 players can be drafted.
- The eight teams that didn’t compete in the NBA’s restart to the season in Orlando are expected to conduct workouts and meetings in their respective cities, starting Sept. 15. The gatherings are voluntary and expected to last two weeks.
- Moving on? Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer recently put his home on Lake Michigan outside of Milwaukee up for sale. Now San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich has put his home on the block as well. Budenholzer worked for Popovich in San Antonio from 1994 until 2013, first as a video coordinator and then as an assistant coach. The asking price on Popovich’s abode is $3.1 million; Budenholzer’s is $3.75M.