Jim Owczarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Published 5:40 p.m. CT June 1, 2021 | Updated 6:04 p.m. CT June 1, 2021
Mike Budenholzer would only allow he and his staff are watching a lot of game film.
Bobby Portis said he was ready to kick back and enjoy the Brooklyn-Boston and Los Angeles Lakers-Phoenix games on Tuesday evening as just a basketball fan.
Giannis Antetokounmpo said he’ll just immerse himself in a streaming service.
For the second time in two series, the Milwaukee Bucks are finding things to do while waiting to continue their postseason. At first, they were off from May 17-21 in advance of facing the Miami Heat in Round 1 due to the play-in tournament, and Budenholzer clarified that his top nine rotation players didn’t play in the May 16 finale in Chicago.
And depending on the result of the Nets-Celtics game Tuesday night, they’ll either be heading to New York for Game 1 on Saturday or playing next week either in Brooklyn (or perhaps hosting the Celtics, if they pulled off a huge upset).
“This timing and this schedule are very similar,” Budenholzer said. “We had a good, hard practice today. We’ll figure out what we’re going to do (Wednesday), have another practice on Thursday and then Friday and then play Saturday (if Brooklyn wins). Not literally, but very close to, the same schedule that we had leading into Round 1 and so I think the players kind of understand the rhythm of it, responded well to it, and where appropriate we’ll just kind of do it again.”
As for the healthy starters, Antetokounmpo (36 minutes 16 seconds), Jrue Holiday (36:11), Khris Middleton (34:51) and Brook Lopez (28:28) averaged a heavy workload in the opening series, but Budenholzer said they came out of the series in a good place physically.
“There’s stretches of playoff basketball where both teams are feeling it and your execution can suffer both mentally and just the attention the detail, but you know, there were a lot of good stretches where our guys took the extra minutes, played and executed,” Budenholzer said. “We had a close first game, down at halftime in Game 4. I think they understand that it’s playoff time and they’ve got to do whatever takes including playing more minutes and the focus and the effort that it takes to do that.”
Budenholzer added that Thanasis Antetokounmpo returned to practice in a limited capacity on Tuesday. The forward suffered an avulsion fracture in his right knee involving the right patella tendon on May 16 in Chicago.
Bucks react to fan behavior
All season long NBA coaches and players have spoken about the fun and energy brought back to the game with the return of ticket holders, and the gradual ramp up to the near-capacity crowds for the postseason was highly anticipated.
Unfortunately, the first round of playoffs have been marred by a half dozen fan incidents in five cities.
“There’s no place for what’s happened in our league multiple times over the last, I guess, since the playoffs started,” Budenholzer said. “We love our fans, we appreciate ’em, we want ’em, it’s been great to have ’em back in the stadium and the arena but the respect and the ability to kind of cheer for your team and not cross the line or do anything that’s disrespectful or just inappropriate, you know, we’re just hoping for the best going forward that it doesn’t happen again.
“And (we’re) always concerned for our player’s safety. What they do on the court is special and amazing and hopefully everybody respects and appreciates it and the NBA can be the great sport for the fans and everybody that it’s been for a long time.”
May 26, Philadelphia: A fan emptied his popcorn on Washington guard Russell Westbrook as he exited the court with an injury. The fan was ejected and banned.
May 26, New York: A fan spit on Atlanta guard Trae Young during play. The fan was identified after video of the incident surface and was banned. Also during that game a fan threw a beer at the Knicks bench. That fan has also been banned.
May 26, Utah: The family of Memphis guard Ja Morant was harassed with racist and sexist comments, leading to the banishment of three fans.
May 27: The league sent out a memo saying, “The return of more NBA fans to our arenas has brought great excitement and energy to the start of the playoffs, but it is critical that we all show respect for players, officials and our fellow fans. An enhanced fan code of conduct will be vigorously enforced in order to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all involved.”
May 30, Boston: A fan threw a water bottle at Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving as he exited the court. The fan was arrested and banned.
May 31, Washington: A fan ran onto the court while the Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers were playing in the third quarter. He was banned and Washington said charges were being pursued.
The Bucks’ first two games with the Miami Heat had about 9,000 fans at Fiserv Forum while American Airlines Arena had 17,000. Before and during the games in Miami, fan conduct messaging was often read and displayed on the scoreboard.
“I don’t know why the fans are doing it but it’s totally uncalled for,” Portis said. “We work hard. We come in every day, we dedicate ourselves to this. Whether a shot goes in or goes out we still put the time and put the work in. That’s our job to gout there and play basketball. I don’t know why fans do it. I seen the guy (Monday) get tackled (in Washington) – by the way shout out to the security guard that tackled him, that was impressive – but I don’t know why it’s happening.
“I know the Kyrie situation with Boston, he played there and left there and stuff so they might feel a way about that. It’s just totally uncalled for and we couldn’t go to their workplace and do that to them so they don’t need to come to ours and do it to us.”