Basketball

Bucks reach NBA Finals but need work: Coach

The Milwaukee Bucks don't know if they will have Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed their second straight game with a knee injury, but they know where they are going.

For the first time since 1974, they're headed to the NBA Finals.

Using spurts to open both halves and a combined 59 points from Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, the Bucks defeated the Atlanta Hawks 118-107 yesterday morning (Singapore time) to clinch a 4-2 series victory in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Bucks will meet Western Conference champions Phoenix Suns in a best-of-seven series that will tip off in Arizona on Wednesday morning.

"They have a focus and an edge," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said of his team. "That's put us in a position to keep playing. That's impressive, but we've still got more work to do."

En route to a 51-21 record in the West, which was five games better than Milwaukee's 46-26 in the East, the Suns pipped the Bucks twice in the regular season, winning 125-124 at home on Feb 10 and 128-127 in overtime in Milwaukee on April 19.

By having the better record in the regular season, the Suns will have home-court advantage in the series. Phoenix were seeded second in the West and Milwaukee were third in the East.

Phoenix, who clinched a 4-2 series victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in the Eastern Conference finals, will get a six-day rest before Game 1, whereas the Bucks have less than 72 hours to prepare.

"It's a quick turn, but we'll be ready," said Budenholzer, adding that his team had struggled after having six- and three-day breaks before Game 1 of each of their last two series. - REUTERS

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