Pro Hoop Hogs report: Portis helps Bucks to 2-1 lead in Eastern Conference Finals

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MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – JUNE 25: Bobby Portis #9 of the Milwaukee Bucks shoots against Onyeka Okongwu #17 of the Atlanta Hawks during the first half in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals at Fiserv Forum on June 25, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

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September 20 2021 05:00 am

LITTLE ROCK — After a three-game stretch of not playing to close out Milwaukee’s 4-3 series win against the Brooklyn Nets, former Arkansas star Bobby Portis was back in the lineup last week for the Eastern Conference finals and has been a key factor in the Bucks’ push to a 2-1 series lead against the Atlanta Hawks.

Portis (6-10 forward / center, Little Rock native) capped off a productive week on Sunday with his best scoring output of these 2020-21 NBA Playoffs — 15 points (7-of-12 field goals, including 1-of-3 from 3) to go with 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist, and a boxscore plus-minus of plus-17 in 17 minutes off the bench as No. 3 seed Milwaukee won on the road, 113-102, for the Bucks’ second consecutive victory over the Hawks. Game 4 in Atlanta tips around 7:30 p.m. CT on Tuesday, June. 29.

Through three games in the series, Portis is averaging 11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.0 assist, and 1.0 steal in 16.7 minutes while shooting 55.6% from the field, including 3-of-8 from 3 for 37.5%, and he has a collective boxscore plus-minus of plus-25.

For his performance last week, Portis has earned his 11th Pro Hoop Hogs Player of the Week honor this season.

The 15 points scored against Atlanta are the second most in his 17-game playoff career as he tallied 19 points in his second season (’16-17) as a Chicago Bull in the first game of a first-round series against the Boston Celtics. Portis has now scored in double-figures in 5 of the 11 playoff games he’s appeared in for Milwaukee in ’20-21. Overall in this postseason, Portis is averaging 8.1 points and 4.7 rebounds in 16.2 minutes per game while shooting 51.4% from the field, including 9-of-25 from 3 for 36.0%, and 4-of-8 from the free throw line for 50.0%.

Beyond the statistical impact Portis has had in his first season in Milwaukee, his on-court energy and impact on a winning organization can be felt within the Bucks fanbase, which clearly has fallen in love with Portis. Case in point was game two against the Hawks on Friday (July 25) in Milwaukee — a 125-91 Bucks win — when the packed house inside the Fiserv Forum erupted in chants of “Bobby! Bobby! Bobby!”

“Coming from where I come from, this gives me chills,” Portis said via Twitter on Saturday in response to his home crowd showering him with admiration. “Wow, humble in victory. Thank you Bucks fans.”

Here is a brief video clip of Bucks fans chanting “Bobby” on Friday followed by a highlight reel of Portis from Game 3 on Sunday …

* Former Arkansas star Patrick Beverley has reclaimed a starting role in the Western Conference finals, and he’s had a great impact — especially on the defensive side of the ball — but despite being instrumental in keeping games close his No. 4 seed Los Angeles Clippers trail the No. 2 seed Phoenix Suns, 3-1, in the series.

Beverley (6-1 guard) and his physical, in-your-face brand of defense came to the forefront of the series in game two when a head-to-head collision with Suns star guard Devin Booker led to stitches on the bridge of Booker’s nose. Beverley held Booker, the Suns leading scorer, to 20 points on 5-of-16 field goal shooting, but two missed free throws in the closing seconds by Clippers star Paul George was followed by a go-ahead, lob-dunk by Suns big man Deandre Ayton with 0.7 seconds remaining as Phoenix escaped with a 104-103 home win on Tuesday for a 2-0 series lead.

In game three, Beverley had 8 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block in 27 minutes and held Booker to 15 points on 5-of-21 field goal shooting as the Clippers won on their homecourt, 106-92, on Thursday to pull within 2-1 in the series. But on Saturday, it was once again missed free throws late by George that helped doom the Clippers to an 84-80 home loss and on the brink of elimination down 3-1 in the series. Game 5 is in Phoenix at 8 p.m. CT tonight (Monday, June 28) on ESPN.

Through 15 playoff games (with 5 starts) so far in ’20-21, Beverley is averaging 4.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 17.4 minutes while shooting 40% from the field, including 35.5% from 3, and 83.3% from the free throw line.

* Former Arkansas star Isaiah Joe (6-4 guard, Fort Smith native) saw his NBA rookie season come to a close with a 4-3 series loss against the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but he arrived back home in Arkansas late last week and was interviewed on Saturday by Hogville.net. Here is that interview, split into two video segments, during which Joe reflected on his rookie season as well as his thoughts on his Razorbacks’ march to the NCAA tournament Elite Eight just three months ago …

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