Khris Middleton set a career playoff high with 38 points, Giannis Antetokounmpo added 30 and the Milwaukee Bucks never trailed in a 104-89 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night to force a decisive seventh game in their playoff series.
Game 7 will be on Saturday night in Brooklyn. The home team has won each of the first six games in this series.
“We don’t think about any type of pressure at all,” Middleton said. “It’s a basketball game. It’s as simple as that. I know it’s lose-or-go-home, but at the same time, it’s just basketball. You’ve got to have fun with it. Those moments are fun, you know, when the game’s on the line.”
Milwaukee bounced back two nights after blowing a 17-point lead in a 114-108 Game 5 loss at Brooklyn that featured an epic 49-point, 17-rebound, 10-assist performance from Durant.
The Bucks shot just seven of 33 from three-point range but made up for it by outscoring the Nets 26-4 in fast-break points.
“It definitely hurt us,” Nets coach Steve Nash said of the fast-break points. “That’s where they’re really strong. I thought we had some problems getting back in transition.”
Durant occasionally seemed on the verge of leading the Nets back once again Thursday. He scored 10 straight Nets points during one third-quarter stretch as Brooklyn narrowed a 14-point deficit to five. He sparked a 10-0 run early in the fourth quarter that got the margin down to five again. Each time, Middleton responded by making a basket or getting to the free-throw line.
“You know in those moments, he’s going to make the right play,” Antetokounmpo said. “We know that when he feels good, we’ve got to give him the ball.”
Durant had 32 points and 11 rebounds. James Harden added 16 points for Brooklyn but still looked as though he was at far less than full strength in his second game since returning from a hamstring injury. Harden had left Game 1 in the opening minute with right hamstring tightness and returned in Game 5 but shot one of 10 and scored just five points.
“I’m out there to do whatever it takes to win,” Harden said. “I’ve got to be better on both ends of the ball, which I will be in Game 7.”