But for all the drama that spilled onto the floor on Saturday night in an epic Game 7 overtime that saw the Milwaukee Bucks outlive the Brooklyn Nets 115-111, all the exhaustion that led to fatigue and exhaustion. respectful hugs afterwards, that was the bottom line: The Bucks stars are healthy, and they’re in the conference finals.
Whatever the Bucks’ flaws – and they exist – it could end up being their golden chance for the Gold Trophy. This might be the best position they’ve been in since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson played there in the 1970s. Even those Hall of Fame members haven’t won a Game 7 on the road for the Bucks.
Some time could be spent discussing why it must have been so difficult given Brooklyn’s injuries, how Milwaukee let a few games slip through their fingers – and almost the deciding seventh itself. But that was only the prologue, they survived the series.
“We kept our cool throughout the series,” said Giannis Antetokounmpo after scoring 40 points with 13 rebounds in 50 minutes which, in the end, had drained him of many of his normal powers.
“We were down 2-0, we were able to come back. We lost a game with a lead of 15 [points in Game 5]. And against all odds in Game 7, we were able to come here, keep KD and take the win. “
Against all odds, perhaps, but definitely by the tip of Durant’s shoe, who scratched the 3-point line when he made his last brilliant shot in his brilliant streak that gave the Bucks another chance.
How the Bucks have been successful in this series has been personified by veteran center Brook Lopez. The Stanford-educated tall man (although he was previously suspended for skipping class) seemed to inexplicably forget that the shot clock was running low late in settlement and absent-mindedly cost the Bucks vital possession, even though he there had just been a downtime to organize.
But in overtime, as Durant broke free to reach the rim, Lopez stayed with the play, making a vital block that helped keep Durant goalless in overtime – ultimately the determining factor in securing victory.
Durant had a stat line that shouldn’t be lost on history: 48 points in 53 minutes, never leaving the floor. His performance in the series was among the best for a losing player in league history. If there had been an MVP awarded for the conference semifinals, Durant would have won it. And for that reason, this win doesn’t get any asterisk next to the Bucks. They absolutely deserved it and overcoming Durant’s efforts is what fuels their hope for the next rounds.
One guy who won’t take it for granted is Tucker, who couldn’t get past Durant’s Golden State Warriors teams when he was a member of the Houston Rockets. For a split second, he thought he had missed the game again when Durant did the long, wild jumper on his arms which forced overtime.
” It’s painful. I am in pain. It was a battle every night, ”said Tucker, whose back and forth with Durant spilled over to Durant’s family and friends in a good-natured way. “Being able to finally overcome the bump is rather pleasant. “
The Bucks aren’t totally outdated, of course. Technically, they’re just halfway there.
They killed last year’s dragon, sending the Miami Heat into a sweep of confidence. Brooklyn opened as a big favorite in the playoffs and the championship and, it should be noted, was 49 points ahead of Milwaukee in Game 2, even with James Harden on the sidelines. Even Saturday, sports betting installed the Nets as the small favorite despite the exit of Kyrie Irving and Harden obviously still hampered.
The Bucks were 0-5 in Brooklyn this year and are known to have missed tight playoff games. Jrue Holiday was 2 of 17 in shooting at the end of the fourth quarter. Khris Middleton couldn’t buy a shot. The referees allowed some vicious, physical play in this second round final – Blake Griffin sometimes wrestled hard with Antetokounmpo, and the smaller Nets survived in the trenches, getting away with almost anything.
There are a lot of great talents and great teams at home or on vacation. The Bucks are still here.
“There have been a lot of ups and downs in the show. There have been a lot of ups and downs in this game. Everyone fought extremely hard, ”said Antetokounmpo. “I almost got emotional, we really wanted it. You don’t always walk down the aisle to a championship crown. Sometimes you beat the other guy by the toe of his Nike.