WASHINGTON – Giannis Antetokounmpo netted his first triple double in the NBA playoffs on Saturday and the Milwaukee Bucks beat Miami 120-103 to sweep the postseason Heat in the first round.
Greek star Antetokounmpo had 20 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists to trigger the Bucks, who were led by 25 points from center Brook Lopez and 22 more off the bench from Bryn Forbes.
Khris Middleton added 20 points as the Bucks recovered from a 12-point first-half deficit to win the best of seven Eastern Conference series 4-0. They await the winner of the Brooklyn-Boston series in the second round.
“We have to focus on ourselves, try to improve ourselves,” Antetokounmpo said. “We want to improve defensively and whatever the next round we will be ready.”
Antetokounmpo only became the third Bucks player with a triple playoff double after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1970, when he was known as Lew Alcindor, and Paul Pressey in 1986.
The Heat, which lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals last year, ousted Milwaukee in five games in the second round of the playoffs last season.
“We just tried to focus on one game at a time,” Antetokounmpo said. “We didn’t want to play with our food.
Miami hadn’t been swept away in a playoff series since falling to Chicago in the first round in 2007.
The Heat dominated early, with Antetokounmpo missing his first six shots and Miami taking their biggest lead of the series at 58-46.
But Milwaukee opened the third quarter on a 24-6 streak and the Heat were never able to match them after that.
“They played us very hard,” said Antetokounmpo. “We kept our cool, we kept moving the ball, we kept defending and we were able to get a win.”
Bam Adebayo led Miami with 20 points and 14 rebounds while Jimmy Butler achieved a triple double in a losing cause with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Antetokounmpo said it was difficult to stay in a role and try to help his team through versatility instead of just pushing for a big goal night.
“If you wanna be awesome, it’s gonna hurt you a little bit.” It won’t be easy, ”said Antetokounmpo. “I am fortunate to be able to do a lot of things to contribute to our team. I can score. I can pass the ball. I can bounce back.
It was the Bucks’ first game without goaltender Donte DiVincenzo, who was knocked out for the remainder of the playoffs with a torn left ankle ligament suffered in Milwaukee’s Game 3 in Miami on Thursday.
DiVincenzo has averaged 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.1 steals a game for the Bucks this season.
“He’s a big part of our game,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s going to be hard not to have it, but a lot of guys are going to stand up for us.”
Portland rout Denver
Norman Powell of Portland tied a career-high playoff game with 29 points, scoring 11 of 13 from the floor to propel the Trail Blazers against Denver 115-95 to tie their Western Conference series at two wins apiece.
CJ McCollum scored 21 points and Bosnian center Jusuf Nurkic added 17 for Portland while Serbian center Nikola Jokic led Denver with 16 points.
“The plan was to put in a full 48-minute effort,” Powell said. “The goal was to continue to compete hard.”
The Trail Blazers led 57-47 at halftime and dominated the third quarter to pull away for good.
Further playoff games later Saturday found Philadelphia trying to take a 3-0 lead in Washington and visiting Utah in Memphis with that series stalled 1-1.
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