A Game 7 thriller, the NBA’s first life and death game to go into overtime in 15 years, was reduced to a matter of inches.
If Brooklyn star Kevin Durant was a little further away or his foot was a little smaller, he would have finished Game 7 with the highest scoring of an NBA player with a triple to win the series.
“We were lucky his toe was on the line and they called it a two,” said Khris Middleton of Milwaukee. “But once he takes that shot, we have to forget about it. There is still a ball game. That wasn’t the game. “
And given a second chance, the Bucks traded it for a ticket to the Eastern Conference finals. The Bucks resisted Durant’s NBA record of 48 points in Game 7, beating the Nets 115-111 on Saturday night.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 40 points and 13 rebounds, and Middleton made the tiebreaker with 40 seconds left in overtime.
“At the end of the day, I try not to get too high, not get too low. But I almost got a little excited because the team really did their best, ”said Antetokounmpo. “We kept our composure. We were down 2-0. A lot of people didn’t think we could do it. “
The Bucks held on when Durant missed two late jump shots, the last an air ball with 0.3 seconds remaining.
“We looked good there in overtime. We just didn’t take them down, ”Durant said. “I respect the Milwaukee Bucks in how they prepare, how they challenged us to all series and made adjustments in all series. We have nothing but respect for that club. “
Middleton added 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks, who reached the East finals for the second time in three years. They will play Philadelphia or Atlanta in a series that begins Wednesday night.
Durant played all 53 minutes and forced overtime with a jump shot that was only inches away from being a triple that would have won it with one second left.
“But my big ass foot stepped on the line,” he said. “I just saw how close he was to finishing his season with that shot.”
Durant added nine rebounds and six assists, but didn’t get enough help with the injured Kyrie Irving watching from the baseline and James Harden unable to locate his shot after missing most of the first four games with strain on his hamstring. right hamstring. Harden had 22 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, but made 5 of 17 shots from the field.
“I was going out and trying to give my best and it’s frustrating,” Harden said.
In a series in which teams often did not produce the quality of play expected between the two highest-scoring teams in the league, Game 7 was an exciting game, the first to need overtime since Dallas beat San Antonio in the 2006 Western Conference semifinals..
The Bucks held a 109-107 lead before Middleton missed a three, but the Bucks got the rebound. They then turned it around in a shot clock violation to give the Nets one last chance with 6 seconds left. They threw it across the court towards Durant, who landed a spinning, spinning jump from within the three-point line, perhaps even above it to tie it at 109.
Bruce Brown scored on a follow-up shot to open overtime, but neither team scored again until Antetokounmpo’s basket with 1:12 left. Brook Lopez blocked Durant’s shot at the other end before Middleton broke the final tie of the series. Durant tried to drag it out again, dribbling across the floor and running for the clock before throwing a long look that fell short.
Lopez scored 19 points for the Bucks, who were knocked out in this round last year after finishing with the best record in the NBA. Jrue Holiday shook off a bad shooting night to finish with 13 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.
Blake Griffin scored 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets, who thought they had a title contender after acquiring Harden, but had all three of their superstars together on the court for just 43 seconds in this series. They lost for the first time at home in the postseason.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism