The Milwaukee Bucks will play the NBA final against the Phoenix Suns after beating the Atlanta Hawks 107-118 on Saturday night and winning the Eastern Conference final 4-2 without the need for their star, the Greek Giannis Antetokounmpo . It is the first time since 1974 that the Bucks have reached the NBA Finals.
The game, which in the first half was dominated by the nervousness and imprecision of the two teams, was decided in the third quarter, when Khris Middleton exploded and scored 4 3-pointers and a total of 23 points, which launched the Bucks.
Those of Milwaukee scored in the third period a total of 44 points by 29 Hawks and Middleton made only 4 points all the Bucks rose in the second quarter.
Hawks star point guard Trae Young , who returned to play after missing the previous two games with an ankle injury, was unable to repeat the performance of other games and push Atlanta to victory. Young scored only 14 points.
The game’s top scorer was Khris Middleton, with 32 points, followed by Jrue Holiday, with 27. For the Hawks, the top scorer was Cam Reddish, with 21 points.
“Anteto ‘, discarded
Going 3-2 in the series in favor of the Bucks, Hawks coach Nate McMillan had no choice but to put Trae Young on the floor and try to force Game 7 even though the point guard was still out. fully recovered from the ankle injury suffered in the third game of the series.
On the other side of the court, Mike Budenholzer had more leeway. The Bucks coach decided to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo in street clothes to allow the Greek star to fully recover from the hyperextension of his knee suffered in Game 4.
Already in the first quarter it was evident that Young was not in full condition. The point guard rejected shots behind the 3-point line that he normally would have taken without thinking twice, especially with his team trailing on the scoreboard.
The Bucks came out determined to repeat the formula for success from the previous game: suffocating pressure on defense that allowed them to steal balls, force errors and launch attacks with the Hawks out of place. For the first few minutes the plan worked.
The Hawks’ first two attacks ended with the Bucks stealing the ball. In 2 minutes, the Bucks were leading 0-7. The pressure from the Bucks continued to force more errors as Bobby Portis, Jrue Holiday, Krhis Middleton, Brook Lopez and PJ Tucker scored and made it 4-15.
Nervousness and rush
But nervousness and haste began to take hold of those in Milwaukee. He seemed in a hurry to finish the game and was moving the ball up quickly. The precipitation resulted in poor offensive decisions and the Hawks took advantage of the Milwaukee’s slump .
In just over 2 minutes, the Hawks punished the Bucks with a 12-3 run and came within just 2 points, 16-18. The streak was snapped when Young returned to the bench and the first quarter ended with the Bucks 4 points ahead, 24-28.
The second quarter ended in a draw. Both teams scored 19 points and left the score at 43-47, 4 points up for the Bucks. The shooting percentages were revealing of nervousness and imprecision. The Hawks had 25% on 3s and 30% on total. The Bucks are 26% and 38% respectively.
Around the break , Middleton came out toned. The forward scored the first 16 points for the Bucks (including 3 triples) and allowed the Milwaukee to place a partial of 4-16 that took them away on the scoreboard, 47-63. Young couldn’t answer. The point guard missed the only triple he tried in those first 4 minutes and lost two balls.
Middleton’s display woke up his team. Holiday and Lopez took over from the forward with new triples. This time the Bucks did not repeat the errors of the first half and maintained discipline in attack which allowed them to take off on the scoreboard.
Only Cam Reddish , off the bench, could keep up the pressure and scored 12 points in the third period as a result of 4 of the 5 triples he tried. The third quarter ended at 72-91, 19 points, the maximum advantage of the 36 minutes played up to that point.
In the fourth quarter, the Hawks found relief in triples from Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter and Reddish. With 5 minutes to go, Atlanta’s men cut the distance to 10 points, 97-107. The Bucks were beginning to feel the pressure from the State Farm Arena in Atlanta but the Hawks were running out of time. With two minutes to go, the difference was 8 points, 103-111. But that was the maximum the Hawks could achieve. With 40 seconds remaining and with 107-118 on the scoreboard, McMillan threw in the towel and took the headlines off the track.
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