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Bucks oust Hawks to face Phoenix in NBA Finals

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Khris Middleton scored 32 points to power the Milwaukee Bucks into the NBA Finals on Saturday with a series-clinching 118-107 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

The third-seeded Bucks beat the host Hawks in the best-of-seven series 4-2 to book their first appearance in the league championship since 1974.

Milwaukee will face the Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns in the finals which begin on Tuesday.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – JULY 03: Brook Lopez #11 of the Milwaukee Bucks hugs Bobby Portis #9 after the team’s series win against the Atlanta Hawks in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals at State Farm Arena on July 03, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (AFP)

The Bucks won despite the absence of two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who sat out with an injured left knee.

The 26-year-old Greek forward hyperextended the knee when he landed awkwardly in game four of the series.

The Hawks got their top player Trae Young back after he missed the previous two games with a bruised foot. But Young struggled to score in game six, finishing with just 14 points.

Jrue Holiday stepped up for the second straight game to help fill Milwaukee’s offensive void with Antetokounmpo out. Holiday flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 27 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

ATLANTA, GA – JULY 3: Jrue Holiday #21 of the Milwaukee Bucks drives to the basket during the game against the Atlanta Hawks during Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on July 3, 2021 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. (AFP)

Brook Lopez, who was the star of Thursday’s Game 5 win with 33 points, delivered 13 points on Saturday for the Bucks.

The young Hawks, who last made it to the finals 60 years ago when they were based in St. Louis, were trying to force a seventh game.

Cam Reddish came off the bench to score a team-high 21 points, Bogdan Bogdanovic had 20 points and  John Collins finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds in the loss.

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