By Peter Gleason
If the Sixers beat the Hawks in tonight’s game game 7 at the Wells, they’ll open the Eastern finals Wednesday night at home against the Milwaukee Bucks, who survived the Nets in game 7 last night.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks won in overtime with the Nets 115-111 to reach their second conference finals in three years.
The Bucks, after pushing ahead slightly in the final minutes, had a chance to make it a two-possession game with less than 10 seconds left in regulation. The Nets, though, forced a shot clock violation out of an inbounds play after trapping Brook Lopez in the corner to reclaim the ball down just two points.
That’s when Kevin Durant showed up to temporarily save the Nets’ season.
Durant, after catching a long inbounds pass, drilled what looked like a wild contested 3-pointer with less than two seconds left — appearing to put the Nets up by one. A review, however, showed that Durant’s toes were barely on the 3-point line, which changed the bucket back and ended up sending the game into overtime instead.
The Nets then scored almost instantly in the extra period, thanks to a Bruce Brown bucket, but then both teams went cold. It wasn’t until Antetokounmpo made a layup to tie the game up with just 72 seconds remaining, and then Khris Middleton hit a mid-range jumper of his own to put them ahead.
Durant had one final shot to keep their postseason hopes alive, but fatigue seems to have set in. After playing in every single minute of the game, Durant’s final shot from the top of the key missed the rim entirely — sealing the win for the Bucks.
Antetokounmpo finished with 40 points and 13 rebounds while shooting 15-of-24 from the field. Middleton added 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Pat Connaughton added nine off the bench — which made him the only bench player in the whole game to score.
Durant finished with 48 points for Brooklyn, the most scored by any player in a Game 7 in NBA history, and came just shy of a triple-double with nine rebounds and six assists. James Harden added 22 points with his near triple-double, too, while also playing in all 53 minutes.