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Sports

Steph, Giannis explode as Warriors, Bucks advance

Agence France-Presse

LOS ANGELES – The defending champion Milwaukee Bucks and resurgent Golden State Warriors completed 4-1 series victories to advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs on Wednesday.

In Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points as the Bucks brushed aside the Chicago Bulls 116-100 to clinch a comfortable series win and advance to an Eastern Conference showdown with the Boston Celtics.

In San Francisco, Golden State relied on 30 points from Stephen Curry and a crucial late 15-point cameo from Gary Payton II to seal a pulsating 102-98 victory over reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.

The Warriors will now face either the Memphis Grizzlies or Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference semifinals.

The Warriors, who had led the series 3-0 before dropping game four in Colorado on Sunday, dug deep in the fourth quarter to clinch victory at the Chase Center.

The Nuggets, buoyed by a towering 30-point display from Jokic, had led by eight points at the end of the third period.

But Golden State outscored the visitors 32-20 in the fourth quarter – with Payton contributing 10 points – to claim a dramatic win.

The victory was Golden State’s first playoff series win since 2019 after two consecutive seasons where they missed the postseason.

“I think you could see those first three quarters we’d forgotten what it felt like to try and close out a game,” Curry said.

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO

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