The Bucks came into this one in the lead by a score of 3-1 in their first round series. But this didn’t tell the whole story, not by a long shot. The first two games were really close it could easily have been a 2-0 Chicago lead but it went level to game three at 1-1. Milwaukee main man took his time to warm the series but his 33 points and 9 rebounds propelled them through against a tricky Bulls side. Chicago after a hot start to the regular season , faltered late to finish 6th thus the top draw first round series. DeRozan had a subdued match, 11 points 2 rebounds. Bucks routed the Bulls in the first Q taking a lead of 16 in Q2. Giannis the King of the paint as per usual. Watch 6-4 Bucks for the trademark shake drive to the bucket. Chicago simply had no answer for him, made worse that no double team on him making it so easy. Check out 10-7 Milwaukee. A much better tighter second Q with Chicago using their weapon on the paint Vucevic(19 points), 34-18 Bucks. The only way to get a lay up against a big guy like Giannis is probably to protect the ball, shield it like that.
I always wonder why players rush to make impossible passes even with the shot clock way in its double digits. Guess that comes with pressure being behind by 20. Patrick Williams who had an awesome match for Bulls with 19 points, attempting an impossible at 40-20 which was easily picked off by Matthews. Milwaukee half time lead at 18 points but encouraging signs from Chicago on the offensive tip. All hope of come backs quickly evaporated after another great start to Q3 from Bucks. The movement inside the arch was tremendous from the home team. Check out 66-55 Milwaukee. Just as the Bulls were starting to get ahead of steam, looking to cut the lead to single figures. Matthews with another steal. End of Q3 , Bucks were out of sight again. This play felt more like a nail in the Chicago coffin, Pat Connaughton, next best player after Giannis with 20 points nailing a down towner from the corner at 79-61 with shot clock at 2 seconds. The quick ball movement from my Carter , divine. Bucks will face Jayson Tatum’s Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semis in the quest to defend their world title.
Mike Tyson is never one to shy away from a scrap, verbally and physically. After all we like the former heavyweight champ whose life isn’t as ordinary as ours. Mike was in the headlines at start of this week for a physical altercation with a fan onboard an airline from San Francisco to Florida. This incident made me at want to focus on the sportsman and fan relations. Now it is granted that fans can get a little excited when they see their idol or a celeb they like. That is why they hire security to go with them wherever they go. Mike clearly is his own security as the fan will attest now. Today I want to talk about this incident on whether Mike was at fault or the fan went overboard. I will put it into context of fan and sportsman/celeb relations. Let me start with the fan. According to witnesses aboard, the interaction started off cordial enough with both seemingly being friendly with each other. Watching the video, Mike tries to calm the fan down ahead of the scuffle but the fan continued to harass him. Which brings me to rule number one for fans when they meet their heroes. Accept that he or she might not feel the same enthusiasm as you do about the encounter. We forget that they are humans too, they may have been having a bad day or just not in the mood or frame of mind to sign an autograph , chit chat or an impromptu photoshoot. When they clearly say this, say thanks and walk away. It doesn’t mean the sportsman is a bad guy , it just means you are invading his personal space.
Now Mike’s conduct deserve the reprimand it is going to get from the law. He could easily have been the bigger guy here and ignored the fan and asked for the airline to eject(if the incident had occurred before takeoff), or had the man arrested on landing. He is a trained boxer so could well have endangered the untrained fan’s health in a bad way. He fell for the fan’s trick in my opinion. The celeb shake down trick. Get hit then sue for thousands if not millions. Without doubt he put himself in a difficult spot legally and opened himself up to a suit. From reports for now the fan isn’t biting legally but still he is on the chopping block. Look, every sportsman’s worst nightmare is to have a fan in the mold of Robert De Niro in the movie “THE FAN”. Some fans like De Niro’s character in the movie manifest deeper emotional and psychological scars by their actions towards their heroes. They want acceptance and acknowledgement. What better way to get it than from a person admired by millions around the world. So the fan definitely needs help, psychological that is. Oh and Mike does too. Anger Management has never been his strongest point lets face it. To finish , the fan is said to have a prior criminal history which doesn’t augur well for him at all. Chances of Mike opening a counter suit are high in the event he does sue him. So it could well be a split draw(at least in my opinion and that of experts) excuse the pun.
It is increasingly looking like a straight shoot out between the two Milan sides for the Serie A title. Inter looks to have the upper hand over the Rossonerri because of that game in hand but you got to love the attacking exciting soccer exhibited by Stefano Pioli’s side. Ok, Milan has always been a DEFENSE first type of team but you can’t help but love the striking options at their disposal. They ended this match with Zlatan, Rebic and Krunic in place of Leao and Giroud who scored another good poacher’s goal here. Ciro Immobile iS A STRIKER that is capable of scoring 40 goals a season. With world class players such as Milinkovic-Savic is not hard to see why. He will be hard to keep over the summer for Lazio. Speaking of attacking intent, Milan had 25 shots at goal for this match. Not only did Lazio try to sit on that solitary goal, they did it playing too deep inside their box to have a chance of making it.
How avoidable was that goal from Tonali? Very avoidable. I mean the initial clearance header was poor right? But it was still manageable. It was the second phase of the defensive play that will definitely irk Sarri the Lazio coach. Not only number 23 Hysaj’s ball watching but also Zlatan’s header to Tonali should not have happened at all. First on the ball should always be you the defender, rather give the ref a decision to make committing the foul than allow a free header into the box. The English Premier league is superior to the Italian league but Serie A is giving it a run for its money with this, what looks like a legendary photo finish.
A lot of attention has been drawn to Emma Raducanu since her stunning victory at Flushing Meadows in September. So far since that victory she has struggled to replicate the same form. She faces Petra Martic of Croatia who is more known for her doubles credentials. The truth about this match is that Petra should have wrapped up the first set early but collapsed mid set to hand the initiative back to the Brit. Martic has a combination of a height and slice backhand which makes her a particularly dangerous opponent on the hard court. Leading 3-1 in the first set , Petra tried the backhand drop shot at 30-40 break point to Emma one too many times to hand the break back. Emma too looked jittery on serve especially serving for the set at 5-3. That led to the set going into a tie breaker. She double faulted eight times in the match which was too high for standards set by her in previous tournaments. However before the breaker, the moment of magic from the Brit at 5-5(30-15). Martic trying the backhand slice drop shot again but the Croatian got too much height on the shot with Emma being able to recover and cover the net well. The crucial difference in the breaker was the baseline play by Emma which allowed her to hit shots like the forehand cross court at 4-2. Not a bad angel from Petra though, an even better one from Emma.
Petra fought her way back in the second set after going down a break at 1-1. Her 8 Aces for the match helped a lot. It took some doing for Petra to win the second set though. For a lot of plays in the match, Emma had the better of Martic from the net. At 5-4(15-30), the Croatian got the better of the Brit. Just watch reflex action at the net with focus on the ball and not moving too quickly. That’s a doubles player right there. Martic closing it out 6-4 and off to the decider we went. Check out 2-1(40-30) in the third. Another drop shot telegraphed by Emma. It seemed as though Petra underestimated Emma’s speed and movement ability on court. Both players were getting spectacular angles on their shots such that at one point a tie breaker looked to be on the cards. But just like set two, Emma blinked and at a crucial point. She was also serving to stay in the set this time at 6-5. Check out 15-40. Now I really believe she was a bit hasty going for the big forehand way too early. I would have loved her to keep on slamming on the baseline a few shots then get the angle to nail the winner. This is something Emma will learn with experience.
This for me the pick of the first round matches in Indian Wells. Two former US Open champions who have been on the slide in as far as the rankings are concerned. Naomi hasn’t been on court that much lately and HAS SLIPPED TO NUMBER 78 whilst Sloane is better at 38. The most telling factor yesterday was the windy conditions which made serving a matter of concentration. Watch first game of the match 30-0 to Sloane. The players had to time the bounce from the ball as well the toss on serve like Naomi did on the Sloane return. Watch how the ball changed direction when it bounced. Despite this both players SERVED VERY WELL on first serve. Sloane up a break immediately looking good with 84% Naomi 70%. But Sloane couldn’t hold out in the rallies. In fact from winning the first game she lost the next three. Check out 2-1 Naomi 30-40. Sloane had to know that Osaka was expecting the slow kick serve. She didn’t change the serve and suffered for it. Watch how deep inside court Osaka was. The back and forth first set finally took a decisive turn in the seventh game at 3-3 when Sloane broke on deuce. One of Sloane’s assets on court is her great defensive work. Watch 5-3(40-150 as she broke to take the set. Now, the back spin she got on the forehand made it awkward for Osaka who couldn’t get enough top spin back on the ball.
Osaka is a fighter. This showed in the second set. She hit impressive groundstrokes under difficult conditions. Watch 1-0 Osaka 30-0 to Sloane. Stephens did well to adjust the body to get to the ball after another awkward bounce but unfortunately she couldn’t get to the forehand cross court hit low and hard. Sloane is a solid baseliner but would have loved to see her come to the net more. She had her moments in set two, one of them when she was hopelessly down 4-0 at first point. She opens up the racquet well and the follow through picture perfect. But the set was gone. She would win a single game as Osaka wrapped it up 6-1. Another thing stuck out for me from Stephens. She is a yard of pace down from the previous years and is affecting her. Once you get into a pattern on court its hard to stop. Sloane just like the first set went a break up hitting shots from the moon. Check out blockbuster backhand at 1-0 firs point third set. Now for the crucial moment of the match. Sloane about to go a double break up at 2-0 adv on deuce. Stephens roots herself again on the baseline and Osaka seizes her chance to snuff out the break point chance for the American. If Sloane had won the break I am certain she would have hoisted her arms in victory at the end. As it turned out it was the kick Osaka needed to kick on again. Naomi won the next 6 games to win the match in an extraordinary collapse by Stephens. Osaka showing the benefits of aggressive tennis playing. Check out 2-2 15-0 as illustration. Both players with amazing shots, Osaka on the attack Stephens sitting back, the difference was that on this occasion Naomi didn’t go for the winner early and Sloane was brave enough to go for it first. Great start to the mini major for the Japanese though.