The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Atlanta Hawks 118-107 on Saturday to win the Eastern Conference finals in six games and reach their first NBA Finals since 1974. With Giannis Antetokounmpo sidelined yet again, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday guided the Bucks to victory, combining for 59 points at the State Farm Arena.
The Bucks are now set to compete against the Phoenix Suns for the NBA championship on the game’s biggest stage.
Milwaukee Bucks beat Atlanta Hawks to secure NBA Finals berth
Khris Middleton racked up 32 points, including a run of 16 straight in a decisive third quarter which propelled the Bucks to a 118-107 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday. The Bucks didn’t even need talisman Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was ruled out of the game due to injury, to lock up their spot in the NBA Finals.
However, Jrue Holiday added 27 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists in the absence of Antetokounmpo and played a supporting role for Middleton. Milwaukee won the series 4-2 and advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1974.
Cam Reddish finished with 21 points for the Hawks, while Bogdan Bogdanovic added 20 points. Trae Young failed to have much of an impact in the game as he managed only 14 points with nine assists and four rebounds.
Despite a disappointing finish at the Eastern Conference Finals, the Hawks stamped themselves as a future force with a young group that knocked off the New York Knicks and the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs to surprisingly advance to the conference finals.
After the final buzzer sounded and the Bucks swarmed the center of the court, flaunting on caps and T-shirts that announced them as Eastern Conference champions. Players hugged each other and laughed while the coaches embraced. Antentokounmpo was also part of the celebrations after cheering his team from the sidelines.
NBA Finals preview: Milwaukee Bucks vs Phoenix Suns series
Although the Bucks clinched the Conference title, they will face one more stern test this season in the form of the Phoenix Suns, who beat the LA Clippers to seal the Western Conference title last week.
The Suns had previously eliminated defending champions LA Lakers and the Denver Nuggets en route to their Western Conference finals series against the Clippers.
The Bucks, on the other hand, crushed the Miami Heat 4-0 in the first round of the playoffs before taking down the mighty Brooklyn Nets to set up their clash against Atlanta.
However, the Bucks will be sweating over the fitness over star man Antentokounmpo ahead of the NBA Finals against the Suns. The ‘Greek Freak’ has been out since injuring his knee in the third quarter of Game 4 against the Hawks when he landed awkwardly after contesting an alley-oop.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals will take place on Tuesday, July 6 (Wednesday, July 7 at 6:30 AM IST).