The Milwaukee Bucks are headed to the N.B.A.’s Eastern Conference finals after defeating the Nets, 115-111, in time beyond regulation on Saturday evening in a decisive Game 7 for his or her semifinal collection.
It was a disappointing finish to the collection for the No. 2-seeded Nets, who entered the playoffs primed to make a championship run, with their stars finally seemingly wholesome on the similar time. Their greatest three gamers — James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant — performed solely eight video games collectively through the common season due to accidents and different absences.
The Nets began the collection favored towards the third-seeded Bucks, however as soon as once more, accidents to the celebs piled up, rising the potential of an upset.
In Game 1, James Harden left after lower than a minute due to a proper hamstring pressure. Nonetheless, the Nets received the primary two video games of the collection at dwelling in convincing vogue.
Then the Bucks squeezed out a win at dwelling in Game 3. And in Game 4, the Nets misplaced Irving to a sprained ankle within the first half. The Nets additionally misplaced the sport and gave the impression to be dropping momentum with the best-of-seven collection all of a sudden tied at two.
But in Game 5, Durant put collectively one of many greatest playoff performances ever, ending with 49 factors, 17 rebounds and 10 assists and turning into the primary participant to file these numbers in a playoff recreation. Harden surprisingly returned for that recreation, however was largely ineffective. The Bucks led by as many as 17 factors, just for Durant to snuff out their lead virtually single-handedly within the second half. Jeff Green emerged to fill among the hole left by Irving, scoring a playoff-career-high 27 factors, probably the most factors off the bench by a Net in postseason historical past.
The Bucks struck again with robust performances from their stars in Game 6, with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday scoring 89 of the Bucks’ 104 factors.
Throughout the collection, the Nets tried to benefit from Antetokounmpo’s ineffectiveness as a shooter, a weak spot that has vexed him all through a number of playoff runs. Defenders routinely left him open on the perimeter or despatched him to the free-throw line, the place he additionally struggled. That made Antetokounmpo, a two-time Most Valuable Player Award winner, much less of a menace late in video games.
But Antetokounmpo nonetheless managed to have top-of-the-line collection of his profession. Through the primary six video games, he averaged 30.5 factors and 12.eight rebounds per recreation on 56.5 % taking pictures. It was adequate to get the Bucks to a Game 7, and to the Eastern Conference finals for the second time in Antetokounmpo’s profession.
The Nets had problem getting manufacturing from their position gamers, a lot of whom had profession years. Joe Harris, top-of-the-line shooters within the N.B.A., struggled all collection — taking pictures simply 35.5 % from the sphere and solely 32.5 % from 3 through the first six games.
The Bucks’ collection win brings them one step nearer to successful their first championship since 1971, when the workforce was led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In the Eastern Conference finals, they’ll will face the winner of the opposite semifinal matchup, between the Atlanta Hawks and the Philadelphia 76ers. That matchup is headed to a Game 7 on Sunday, after the Sixers tied the collection behind a powerful efficiency from Seth Curry on Friday. The Eastern Conference finals are set to start on Wednesday.
The Nets missed an opportunity to make their first convention finals since 2002 and 2003, once they have been in New Jersey led by Jason Kidd. Both of these years, the Nets went to the finals. They haven’t received a championship for the reason that A.B.A. merged with the N.B.A. in 1976.