The Bucks might still win this series. Getting harder to see how, as Kyrie Irving could be back for Games 6 and/or 7 and James Harden might actually gain the use of a second leg. And even if neither of those things happen, they still found a way in Game 5. And it’s not that Giannis Antetokounmpo was bad last night, as 34 points and 12 rebounds is generally a superlative night’s work.
It just looks a little off when the guy on the other side, Kevin Durant, is putting up a historic 49-17-10. And it looks a little more apologetic when 20 of Durant’s 49 come in the 4th quarter of a swing game, and Giannis manages just eight while doing a lot of other things that suggested he didn’t much want a part of it. And it looks downright sheepish when the Nets were down, let’s say, half of their three stars, given that Harden could barely move. When Kyrie doesn’t play, and Harden scores five points, the Bucks are supposed to win, and that’s even if Durant turns into Captain Marvel/Ares touched by E.T. Which he basically did.
Oh, and at the end of the game when Giannis can’t hit a free throw, catch the ball, or take a gimpy Harden to the rack in the post instead of trying his best Olajuwon impression, that’s another problem.
I’ve never been the biggest Durant fan, as it always seemed like he was at his best when it was a foregone conclusion his team was going to win anyway. When with Oklahoma City the Thunder facing the 73-win Warriors, rocking up 3-2, Durant was OK in the last two games but nothing spectacular. They lost. Then it was two years in Golden State where there were no stakes. It was over before it started. Then he got hurt. Obviously, after he pulls last night out of his ass, all lenses have to be changed. That’s dragging a team by things that aren’t supposed to be dragged across the finish line. That’s a defiant “the fuck you gonna do about it?” performance.
Was there anything defiant about Giannis? Has there been? He was the Bucks’ best player in Milwaukee as you’d expect, but that’s a Game 3 bounce and then one where Harden and Irving didn’t play. He’s yet to see the Nets at full strength, and they’re still down 3-2.
Also, he’s got a DPOY trophy in the closet at home. Is he never going to try and stick Durant? Maybe that’s an impossible task now, with Durant levitating to a celestial state, but certainly the Bucks needed to try something else other than doing the theatrical background noise of “peas and carrots!” while Durant rolled through his monologue center stage.
I hesitate to say something like Giannis was caught frozen in Durant’s headlights, because everyone can have a bad moment or just look impish in the glow of Durant’s symphony last night. But it feels like we’ve said similar things about Giannis a lot the past three seasons. There isn’t going to be a better chance for MIlwaukee than this, given New Jersey’s health. You get your damn team over the damn line.
It’s the NBA, and MVP trophies that are won by pushing through dreary nights in February when most everyone else can’t be bothered (no small task), are supposed to be fortified in May and June. Anyone else feel Giannis’ are fortified yet?
Flipping to baseball, Tyler Glasnow spoke to the media yesterday after being diagnosed with a partial tear of his UCL. It may not yet require Tommy John, but that’s also looming pretty heavily in the distance.
Glasnow didn’t hesitate to blame his injury on the lack of being able to use something to get a better grip on the baseball, with MLB’s impending crackdown on all the things that stick coming in soon. We know there are going to be side effects from this, such as a lack of control from pitchers and perhaps breaking pitches that don’t audibly snap in the air.
But injuries? Let’s play this out. You don’t get injured, i.e. changing your mechanics, from trying to throw strikes better. If Glasnow was altering how he threw the ball, it was to create more spin or velocity. So clearly he’s saying he can’t get those two things without aid, which is exactly the point. If you’re repeating your delivery exactly every time, the ball should still be under control and there shouldn’t be added stress to the body. If Glasnow was torquing his arm extra to get the spin he was used to… well, that’s a yo’ fault.
What’s more likely is that Glasnow’s arm simply wasn’t built to throw as hard as he does for very long, because no arm is. Go down the list of pitchers that throw the hardest right now, and you’ll see that over half have had T.J. surgery at some point in their careers. It’s just what happens, and that was with all the goop they could put on their hands before. This was always Glasnow’s future, given his arm injuries of the past.
Again, it’s going to be a treacherous road. But all these guys who throw 99 were dancing with the devil anyway. And if they can’t control it, or need sex wax or whatever else to throw it and their other stuff, then maybe they just don’t get to be those guys anymore.