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Bucks top Nets to force decisive Game 7 for spot in Eastern Conference finals

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Style points are non-existent in the playoffs, not when a team’s season is on the line and a victory is necessary.

So it doesn’t matter what the Milwaukee Bucks shot from 3-point range, and it doesn’t matter the margin of victory.

What matters is the result, and the Bucks got what they needed in Game 6 on Thursday.

Milwaukee defeated the Brooklyn Nets 104-89, forcing one more game in this Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Khris Middleton had a playoff career-high 38 points plus 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals. He shot 11-of-16, including 5-for-8 on 3-pointers, helping the Bucks overcome 21.2% shooting on 3s as a team.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30 points and 17 rebounds, and he didn’t take one 3-pointer. Twenty-two of his points came at the rim, and his foul shooting (6-for-10) wasn’t a disaster. Jrue Holiday added 21 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals.

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Game 7 is Saturday in Brooklyn (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT), and the winner will get the winner of the Philadelphia-Atlanta series starting next week.

The Nets haven’t played in a Game 7 since 2014, which incidentally was Nets coach Steve Nash’s last season in the league as a player. The Bucks lost to the Celtics in seven games in 2018.

Game 7 road winners are not common but not unheard of either, especially in recent seasons: Portland at Denver in 2019, Golden State at Houston and Cleveland at Boston in 2018, Utah at the Los Angeles Clippers in 2017, and Cleveland at Golden State in 2016.

The home team has won every game in the series.

Both teams relied on their starters — all 10 starters playing at least 30 minutes. Milwaukee’s bench had just four points, and Brooklyn’s 15.

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The minutes might be a bigger concern for the Nets headed into Game 7. Kevin Durant and James Harden — playing with a sore hamstring — each logged 40 minutes, and that’s after Durant played all 48 and Harden registered almost 46 in Game 5. Nets star Kyrie Irving missed his second consecutive game with a sprained right ankle, and it is not known if he will be available for Game 7.

Durant had 32 points and 11 rebounds, and Harden had 16 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Brooklyn shot 44% from the field and 30% on 3s.

The key stretch of the game came as the clock ticked toward the midway point of the fourth quarter. Brooklyn’s Joe Harris cut Milwaukee’s lead to 82-77 with 8:20 to play. In the next four minutes, the Bucks outscored the Nets 18-2 for a 100-79 advantage. Middleton (six points), Holiday (four points) and Antetokounmpo (eight points) accounted for all 18 points.

With 4:45 remaining, Nash decided to pull his starters and give them a rest — which is what they need plenty of before Game 7.

Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bucks beat Nets to force decisive Game 7 for spot in East finals