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The NBA instructed the Brooklyn Nets to refrain from showing a timer on the Barclays Center video boards while Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo is at the free-throw line, according to the New York Post‘s Peter Botte.
When the two-time MVP was at the charity stripe in Game 1 of Milwaukee’s second-round series against Brooklyn, arena officials made note of whether he had released the ball within the 10 seconds allowed by the league.
Kristian Winfield @Krisplashed
Here’s a look at the Barclays Center Jumbotron timer while Giannis Antetokounmpo is at the foul line. pic.twitter.com/NGwznPQeaU
Botte reported the NBA “doesn’t advocate teams inciting the taunting of other players.”
The step taken by the NBA makes sense because it can be a slippery slope in terms of arena officials directly targeting another player—no matter how benignly—to draw a reaction from home fans.
The practical impact of putting a timer on display while Antetokounmpo prepared to shoot was probably minimal, though.
His focus would have been directed toward the basket at the time, so he wouldn’t have seen what was happening on the video screens.
Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer was unaware the tactic was unfolding too, as he watched the action from the bench.
“There was one time where I felt like people were looking at the Jumbotron, but I didn’t really know why,” he said. “You never know what’s going on up there, and it’s rare that I even can pick up the hint of something.”
Arguing the 10-second timer affected Giannis’ shooting would be an exercise in confirmation bias.
Antetokounmpo was 2-of-5 on free throws as Milwaukee lost 115-107 in Game 1. He shot 68.5 percent from the line in the regular season and has a 71.7 clip for his career, so free-throw shooting has long been one of his Achilles’ heels.
If the Nets eventually dump the Bucks out in the Eastern Conference semifinals, this story will be well down the list of reasons Milwaukee fell short of its goal of reaching the NBA Finals.