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Bucks lead wire-to-wire to beat Nets, force Game 7 in Eastern semifinal series

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Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks shoots over Jeff Green of the Brooklyn Nets at the Fiserv Forum on June 17, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Bucks defeated the Nets 104-89. (Getty Images via AFP)

LOS ANGELES – Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo combined for 68 points as host Milwaukee Bucks led from wire to wire Thursday to beat the Brooklyn Nets 104-89 in the sixth game of their NBA playoff series.

Middleton had a career-high 38 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the playoffs, while Antetokounmpo scored 30 points and grabbed 17 rebounds for the Bucks, who tied the Eastern Conference semifinal best-of-seven at 3-3.

The Bucks changed their defensive strategy and Middleton had a hot hand as he shot from the perimeter to lead the series to a decisive game seven.

“We were solid all night,” Middleton said. “We just tried to make it difficult for (Kevin) Durant and (James) Harden and we were able to do it.

“The playoffs are about adjusting. We had a small advantage in the middle and we were able to maintain it and expand it in the fourth quarter. “

Game 7 is Saturday night in Brooklyn, where the Nets won all three games at the Barclays Center.

Middleton shot 11 of 16 from the floor, five of eight from the 3-point range and 11 of 12 from the free throw line.

After rebounding from a monster performance by Durant for a Game 5 win on Tuesday, the Nets failed to win in the first potential closing game of the series.

“We didn’t do well on offense tonight,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “We were out of rhythm and out of sync throughout the game.

“Defensively we weren’t very good either. It just wasn’t a great game for us, and now we have a game seven on our court. “

Milwaukee’s victory not only keeps their season alive, but also the home team’s streak of winning every game in the series thus far.

“It will either win or go home. That’s what the players and fans love, ”Middleton said.

Brooklyn had often injured James Harden in Game 6, but lost to star guard Kyrie Irving during Game 4 loss. Irving did not travel with the team to Wisconsin due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the game last Sunday.

Harden struggled in his first complete game of the series in game five after sitting up with a sore hamstring.

After making just one basket in game five and finishing with five points, he improved in game six by scoring 16 points, still well below his average of 24.6 points.

Durant, who was coming off a remarkable 49-point performance while playing every minute of Game 5, finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds. Instead of playing the entire game, this time he logged 40 minutes of time on the floor.

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