Bucks hold off Nets in thrilling OT battle to reach Eastern Conference finals

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Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks survived a thrilling overtime battle with the Nets 115-111 at the Barclays Center to reach their second Eastern Conference finals in three years.

The Nets pulled ahead slightly in the first half, thanks to a defensive stand where they held Milwaukee scoreless for nearly four minutes in the second half. That, though, didn’t last long as Brooklyn took just a six-point lead into the break.

Without Kyrie Irving, and with James Harden clearly not himself, Brooklyn ultimately didn’t have enough to go with Milwaukee, who came back from an 0-2 hole to take the series.

Harden had 22 points, but was 5-of-17 from the field, while the Nets didn’t have a single point off the bench.

Durant led the Nets back from four points down with 65 seconds left in regulation, but Brooklyn just couldn’t find any offence in overtime; a five-minute period Milwaukee won 6-2.

Antetokounmpo added: “We knew going into this series, we needed to do it as a team ... and that’s what we did. We kept our composure throughout the whole series.”

The two-time MVP looked visibly exhausted throughout the encounter, and overcame some early free throw struggles to carry his Bucks into the fourth quarter, where Middleton and Holiday were finally able to get going.

Middleton was the next best Buck with 23 points, while Brook Lopez added 17.

The Bucks will face either the Philadelphia 76ers or Atlanta Hawks for a place in the NBA Finals.