Giannis Antetokounmpo knew his team was exhausted and leaving everything out there on the floor against the Brooklyn Nets. So in the final moments, he put his team on his back and willed them into the Conference Finals.
Antetokounmpo had 40 points and 13 rebounds as he led the Milwaukee Bucks to a 115-11 overtime victory in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series on Saturday night at the Barclays Center.
The Bucks reached the Conference Finals after being down 2-0 in the series and won four of the last five games.
”At the end of the day, I try not to get too high, not to get too low. But I almost got emotional a little bit out there because the team really tried their best,” Antetokounmpo said. ”We kept our composure. We were down 2-0. A lot of people didn’t believe we could make it.”
Milwaukee withstood a dominating performance from Nets forward Kevin Durant, who poured in 48 points in 53 minutes. Durant hit a fade-away two-pointer to tie the game and force overtime. If his foot had been a little further back, the Nets would be in the Conference Finals.
”We got lucky his toe was on the line and they called it a 2,” Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton said. ”But once he hits that shot, we’ve got to forget about it. There’s still a ballgame left. That wasn’t the game.”
Middleton’s fadeaway jumper with 40 seconds left in OT would be all the Bucks needed to stop the worrying and begin the celebration.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn will likely feel the sting of this game until next season. They were the heavy favorites to win the NBA Championship after acquiring James Harden in a trade with the Houston Rockets and adding Blake Griffin to the team.
Kyrie Irving missed the last two games with an ankle injury.
”We got good looks there in overtime. We just didn’t knock them down,” Durant said. ”Respect to the Milwaukee Bucks in how they prepare, how they challenged us all series and made adjustments all series. We’ve got nothing but respect for that ballclub.”