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Bucks beat Celtics to stay alive in NBA playoffs

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks scored 31 points to lead Milwaukee to a 97-86 victory over the Boston Celtics on Thursday. AFP
Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks scored 31 points to lead Milwaukee to a 97-86 victory over the Boston Celtics on Thursday. AFP

Bucks beat Celtics to stay alive in NBA playoffs

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 31 points to lead Milwaukee to a 97-86 victory over the Boston Celtics on Thursday that kept the Bucks alive in the NBA playoffs.

With the victory Milwaukee forced a winner-take-all Game 7 on Saturday in the Eastern Conference first-round series.

“We said as a team before the game that we’re going to play hard, that we’re going to win this game no matter what. Our season’s not going to end,” said Antetokounmpo.

“That’s what we did tonight – we moved the ball really well. We were disciplined.”

Antetokounmpo, the Greek forward whose blend of size and skill have made him a rising star in the NBA, bounced back from a series-low 16 points scored in the Bucks’ Game 5 loss with a dominant performance.

He added 14 rebounds, four assists and two steals, scoring 10 of Milwaukee’s last 19 points as they pulled away in the waning minutes.

“At the end, it was about will,” Antetokounmpo said. “I was out there, I was trying to make plays, I was trying to be aggressive.”

‘Quicker all night’

Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon added 16 points apiece for the Bucks, who lost an elimination Game 6 on their home floor last year.

“We’re a better team now,” Antetokounmpo said. “We have a big opportunity ahead of us.”

But to reach the second round they’ll have to do what neither team has done in the series – win on the road.

The winner of the series will face Philadelphia in the second round. The 76ers beat the Miami Heat 4-1 in their first-round series.

“I thought any time we got stagnant, we weren’t very good,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.

“Clearly their speed and length and athleticism affected us,” added Stevens, whose Celtics were out-rebounded 48-39. “They were quicker to the ball all night than us.”

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