As most Bucks meandered on the court after the postgame ceremony ended, Khris Middleton took the Eastern Conference championship trophy and walked with purpose off Atlanta’s court.
Middleton is leading Milwaukee to the NBA Finals, and there was no stopping him.
Middleton went on a personal 13-0 run early in the third quarter, leading the Bucks to a 118-107 win over the Hawks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday. Milwaukee advances to its first NBA Finals since 1974, facing the Suns in a matchup of teams rarely on that stage.
Middleton’s run broke open what had been an ugly game. The Bucks must play better to keep up with Phoenix. They can, as they did in Game 6. Giannis Antetokounmpo could also return from his knee injury.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals is Tuesday.
At least Middleton (32 points and seven assists overall) and Jrue Holiday (27 points, nine assists and nine rebounds overall) got on track in the second half Saturday.
Battling a foot injury, Hawks star Trae Young (14 points on 4-of-17 shooting, nine assists and five turnovers) struggled. Milwaukee put P.J. Tucker on him, and Young couldn’t reliably blow by – at least not while remaining under control.
Cam Reddish (21 points) sparked a late comeback. Atlanta cut a 22-point fourth-quarter margin to just six.
Though they came up short tonight, the young Hawks thoroughly impressed this postseason and showed they’re already back into the forefront of the Eastern Conference.