Last night, the Toronto Raptors handed the Golden State Warriors their second loss of the NBA Finals.
Golden State was without two of their most important players in that game, as both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were sidelined with injuries. For Thompson, it was the first playoff game he had missed in his career.
Well Thompson’s absence was short-lived, as Steve Kerr expects him to play tomorrow night in Game 4.
Thompson missed the fourth quarter of the Warriors Game 2 win, after he pulled his hamstring. That injury kept him out of Game 3, so Thompson will clearly be playing through pain when he returns to the court.
Without Thompson, the Warriors were facing a real uphill climb trying to beat the Raptors. Last night, they clearly missed Thompson’s perimeter defense as the Raptors set a Finals record by making 17 three-pointers on the road.
Getting Thompson back will be huge for the Warriors, but they could also use Durant if they want to get back in this series.
Whether Durant returns or not, Golden State desperately needs to take this next game, otherwise they will be facing elimination on the road in Game 5.
Mike Conley and Bradley Beal Win Noble and Respected Awards
Mike Conley and Bradley Beal are two of the most admired players in the league not just for what they do on the court, but for what they do off the court as well.
Mike Conley received the Sportsmanship and Teammate of the Year Award at the 2019 NBA Awards Show taking home the Sportsmanship Award for the third time in his career (2014, 2016, 2019) and the Teammate of the Year award for the first time.
In Conley’s twelve-year stint with the Memphis Grizzlies, he never once was issued a technical foul and has been known as an all-around great teammate in the locker room and both on and off the court to go along with his tremendous scoring, exceptional passing and lock down defense.
Conley received these awards because he is loved by his teammates and respected by his opponents and those traits will continue to progress as Conley joins the Utah Jazz for the 2019-2020 season.
Bradley Beal received the NBA Cares Community Assist Award at the NBA Awards for his generosity and charitable work in his community.
Beal is the second Wizards player in the last four years to win the honor with John Wall, who presented him the award, taking home the trophy in 2015-2016.
While also having one of his best seasons of his young career averaging 25 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and being selected to his second All-Star game, Beal made time to give back to his community.
Working with Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in Northeast Washington, Beal visited the school in December and gave out two pairs of shoes to each player and coach on the basketball teams.
Over the holiday season, Beal donated game tickets to different community groups and gave toys to the Salvation army.
Beal took part in many other various types of charitable work over the year and continues to be a role model for kids in the community and around the world.
Jon Horst Wins Executive of the Year Award
The Milwaukee Bucks General Manager, Jon Horst, was named NBA Executive of the Year at the NBA Awards. In doing so, Horst became just the second Bucks general manager win the award, joining John Hammond who won in 2010.
The Bucks named Horst the general manager in 2017 making him one of the youngest executives in the NBA.
A year later Horst assembled a team that had best record in the NBA and won prestigious awards for their accomplishments such as MVP (Giannis Antetokounmpo) and Coach of the Year (Mike Budenholzer).
Horst began the season by hiring veteran coach Mike Budenholzer and deciding to not overpay the former number two overall pick, Jabari Parker.
Instead, Horst made moves during the season to acquire key role players such as Brook Lopez, George Hill and Nikola Mirotic, which ultimately improved the team.
The Bucks made it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2001 and in Horst’s two seasons as general manager, the Bucks are 104-60 overall and have made the playoffs in both seasons.
With Horst’s third season as general manager coming up, it will be interesting to see what other moves are made to try and avenge the Bucks loss in the Eastern Conference Finals and reach the NBA Finals for their third time in franchise history.
Mike Budenholzer Wins NBA Coach of the Year Award
For the second time in his career, coach Mike Budenholzer was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year.
He first won the award in 2015, for his tremendous job of leading the Atlanta Hawks to a 60-22 record and a number one seed over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This year, Budenholzer the Milwaukee Bucks, to a 60-22 record and the best record in the NBA for the first time since the 1973-74 season.
Budenholzer received 77 of 100 first place votes while Head Coach of the Denver Nuggets, Michael Malone received 13 of 100 and Head Coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, Doc Rivers received 6 of 100
The Milwaukee Bucks were a top five team on offense and defense this season which is a huge change from being ranked 15th on offense and 17th on defense last season.
Even though the Bucks lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors, the Bucks are still considered a favorite to make another title run next season, lead by Budenholzer and the MVP this year, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
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