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Long breaks between games give playoff teams time to heal


“It’s beneficial in many ways,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said.

Marcus Smart claps Al Horford in Game 2. Barry Chin/Personal Globe

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Oddities in NBA playoff scheduling have created three-day breaks between Boston-Milwaukee and Memphis-Golden State playoff games.

In this case, the teams are not too afraid of delays. They used the time off to be healthier and deal with unexpected roster changes.

“It’s beneficial in many ways,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said.

Both series are tied heading into Game 3 on Saturday in Milwaukee and San Francisco. These four teams have not played since Tuesday.

NBA teams rarely have such long layoffs. For example, the Grizzlies had three days off between games only once during the regular season, aside from the All-Star break.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said he would have preferred to have two days between games rather than three. But he felt the players could benefit from having time to take a mental break in the middle of a grueling streak.

“There are definitely positives,” Bucks center Brook Lopez said. “It’s useful for recovering. It’s useful because you can watch a movie, you can review what the other team is doing, what you’re doing, learn a lot of things. But we’re all looking forward to playing too. Maybe it’s because we lost the last game, but we’re definitely ready to get back there.

The longer break gave the players time to heal.

Ukoda said NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart is likely for Saturday after missing Game 2 with a bruised right thigh. Memphis center Steven Adams has approved health and safety protocols and is expected to play Saturday after missing the first two games against the Warriors.

“I’m glad Steve-O is back,” Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson said. “He looks great.”

Bucks forward Khris Middleton remains out for at least the next two games with a sprained left medial collateral ligament, but the longer this streak lasts, the better his chances of playing in this round.

The Grizzlies and Warriors have also gotten used to working without the guys who will be missing when the series resumes.

Golden State’s Gary Payton II is out indefinitely with a broken left elbow after taking a flagrant foul from Memphis’ Dillon Brooks, who received a one-game suspension.

“Just having time at home to rest and do some good practice and really lock down the game plan will always be good for us,” Warriors center Kevon Looney said. “We have a veteran squad and that gave us a chance to make some adjustments and understand and learn from our last loss.”

They like having that extra time, even if it’s out of the ordinary.

“I was in the playoffs where we play every other day,” Celtics forward Al Horford said. “And when it does, you wish and hope, ‘Man, I hope we get an extra day.’ Now, in this case, it’s a “When do we play again?” thing. Ultimately, that’s how it is. Planning works that way. We have to make sure we stay ready no matter what. what it is.


Series tied 1-1. Game 3, 3:30 p.m. EDT, ABC.

-MUST KNOW: The Celtics rebounded from a 101-89 loss in Game 1 by beating defending champion Bucks 109-86 in Game 2. The Bucks have an 88-44 paint point advantage in the first two games of this series, while the Celtics outscored Milwaukee 114-45 from 3-point range.

-KEEP AN EYE ON: Milwaukee’s 3-point shot. Since going 10 of 20 3-point attempts in the first half of Game 1, the Bucks have shot just 5 of 32 from beyond the arc.

—INJURY ALERT: Middleton remains unavailable and will miss a sixth straight playoff game. Smart expects to play Saturday. Bucks G George Hill, who has yet to play this postseason due to abdominal strain, is listed as likely.

—PRESSURE IS ON: Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo. As long as Middleton remains out, Antetokounmpo will need to be at his best for the Bucks to win. The two-time MVP is averaging 26 points in this series, but shooting 38.5% (20 of 52) from the floor.


Series tied 1-1. Game 3, 8:30 p.m. EDT, ABC.

-MUST KNOW: The Grizzlies won 106-101 in Game 2 to tie the series after dropping 117-116 in Game 1. Memphis’ Ja Morant is averaging 40.5 points, 9 assists and 8.5 rebounds over the two first matches. The Warriors are shooting just 27.6 percent (21 of 76) from 3-point range in this series. They went 7 of 38 in Game 2.

-KEEP AN EYE ON: Warriors F Jonathan Kuminga. The 6-foot-7 rookie will likely play more with Payton on the sidelines.

—INJURY ALERT: He will be missed by Warriors F Andre Iguodala as well as Payton. Iguodala remains out with a neck disc injury that has seen him miss Golden State’s last three playoff games. Adams is expected to return for the Grizzlies after missing three games.

—PRESSURE IS ON: Adams. He was essentially benched in the first round but could play a major role in this series as the Grizzlies try to regain their regular-season form on the glass. Memphis led the NBA in offensive rebounds, total rebounds and second-chance points during the regular season, but was passed by the Warriors in each of the first two games. Adams recorded an NBA-leading 4.6 offensive rebounds per game this season.


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