Larry Sanders is learning plenty about the playoffs. But the Milwaukee Bucks center also is absorbing some tough lessons from the defending league champion Miami Heat. Sanders found himself in serious foul trouble throughout Game 1 while being limited to 19 minutes and six points. He did much better in Game 2 in Miami, contributing 14 points and six rebounds in 28 minutes. And the 6-foot-11 Sanders stayed on the floor for 35 minutes in Game 3 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, posting his first playoff double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 7 of 10. Even though the Bucks trail the Heat, 3-0, in the first-round Eastern Conference series, the 24-year-old Sanders is gaining experience that can help him next season and beyond. Game 4 is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Sunday, and the eighth-seeded Bucks will try to avoid a sweep by the top-seeded Heat. Sanders has picked up five fouls in each game while trying to thwart the unselfish Heat players at the rim. And Thursday night he was frustrated after not fouling in the first half but picking up four fouls in the first 7 minutes of the third quarter. Sanders left with the Bucks trailing, 65-62, and when he returned at the start of the final quarter his team trailed by 10 points. "I was trying to get over from the weak side to the strong side, across that paint," Sanders said after the Bucks practice Friday. "And just contest those guys at the rim, try to jump straight up. "I guess I wasn't getting there early enough." Sanders wrapped up Udonis Haslem to prevent a dunk on his third foul, but the others came while contesting shots. The fourth one came as Miami's LeBron James drove and scored a layup with 4 minutes 59 seconds left in the third quarter. "I just went on a fouling run last night," Sanders said. "I was just trying to be active, trying to stay between them and the rim." When Sanders is not on the court, the Bucks defense suffers. Backup center Ekpe Udoh is struggling with an Achilles injury, and veteran Samuel Dalembert played for the first time in the series Thursday. That puts even more pressure on Sanders to stay on the court.
Battling Miami helps Larry Sanders gain valuable playoff experience
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Apr 27