Bucks cool down Heat, clinch East top seed
(Agence France-Presse) - August 8, 2020 - 12:00am

MIAMI — Giannis Antetokounmpo says the biggest challenge in the championship quest for the Milwaukee Bucks, who clinched a top seed in the NBA playoffs on Thursday, isn’t a rival, but the Bucks themselves.

The 25-year-old Greek forward scored 33 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for Milwaukee as the Bucks rallied from a 23-point deficit to defeat Miami, 130-116, and clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference at an NBA-best 55-14.

“It was a good challenge for us,” said Antetokounmpo. “It’s good to face adversity. It’s good to be uncomfortable. It’s good to be down.

“It’s good to chase because that’s when you get better. You need challenges so you can improve as a team.”

The Bucks, who won their only NBA title in 1971, could face Miami in the second round of the playoffs with Toronto, Boston, Indiana and Philadelphia threats as well. But Milwaukee’s star forward sees the Bucks’ main worry as playing to their potential.

“Probably the biggest challenge for us is ourselves,” Antetokounmpo said.

“It’s ‘How are we going to play? How hard are we going to play? Are we going to play for one another? Are we going to defend hard? Are we going to make that extra effort?’

“It’s all about us.”

Khris Middleton had 33 points and eight assists and combined with Antetokounmpo to shoot 22-of-31 from the floor.

Duncan Robinson scored 21 points to lead the Heat, who are fourth in the East at 43-26. If the standings stay as they are, the Bucks and Heat could meet in round two of the playoffs.

It was the feature of the eighth day of NBA games in a quarantine bubble at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, to finish a regular season shut down on March 11 by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Heat played without Jimmy Butler because of a foot injury and Goran Dragic due to an ankle injury, but Miami sank 13 3-pointers in the first half, the last by Bam Adebayo at the buzzer to give the Heat a 73-56 lead over the NBA’s top-rated defensive squad.

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO
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