The Milwaukee Bucks was eliminated last season in a Game 7 on the road.
One more victory, and it won’t have to worry about that.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, and Jrue Holiday nearly added a triple-double of his own as the Bucks took another step toward wrapping up the NBA’s best record with a 140-128 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.
Holiday finished with 26 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, and Bobby Portis added 19 points and 20 rebounds for Milwaukee.
The Bucks (57-22) moved to three games ahead of Boston with three to play, although the Celtics — who beat Milwaukee in that seven-game series last year — have the head-to-head tiebreaker. Boston lost a 103-101 thriller at Philadelphia on Tuesday, with ex-Buck P.J. Tucker hitting big 3-pointers down the stretch as Milwaukee players watched in their locker room.
After that game ended, Antetokounmpo downplayed the importance of home court just a little, noting that the Bucks was the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference when it won it all two years ago.
“At the end of the day, Boston is a beast, Philly is a beast, Cleveland is a beast, New York is a beast,” Antetokounmpo said.
Kendrick Nunn scored 24 points for the Wizards, who are out of playoff contention and played without Bradley Beal (left knee), Kristaps Porzingis (illness) and Kyle Kuzma (right ankle). Washington kept it close until late in the second quarter, when Milwaukee closed the half on a 13-5 run to lead 75-62.
It wasn’t close after that, with the Bucks leading by as many as 24 points. Milwaukee wasn’t at full strength either. Khris Middleton (right knee) missed the game, which was the first half of a back-to-back for the Bucks. Grayson Allen was also out after leaving Sunday’s game against Philadelphia with a sprained right ankle.
Pat Connaughton played only 5:40 because of what coach Mike Budenholzer said was a twisted right ankle. Budenholzer was hopeful it’s not too serious.
On a night when defence was in short supply, Antetokounmpo made an incredible chase-down block on Nunn in the fourth quarter with his team up 15 — although Corey Kispert followed up with a layup for the Wizards.
“His competitive fire, his competitive spirit, it’s the best,” Budenholzer said. “A lot of guys I think don’t go get that. Not his physical ability to go get it, but just the competitiveness and the willingness to try. He’s very special that way.”
Antetokounmpo nearly had his triple-double after three quarters but needed one more assist.
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