The Milwaukee Bucks dominated Chicago (116-100) at home thanks to 33 points from their Greek giant Giannis Antetokounmpo to win the right to face the Boston Celtics in the conference semi-finals who swept the Brooklyn Nets (4 wins to 0 ).
The Golden State Warriors for their part beat Denver (102-98) on their floor thanks to 30 points from their leader Stephen Curry, thus winning their first series of play-offs since 2019, when they lost in the final against Toronto.
Absent from the final stages the last two seasons, the Californian team, NBA champion in 2015, 2017 and 2018, will challenge in the next round the winner of the series between Memphis and Minnesota, in which the Grizzlies currently lead three wins to two. .
The Warriors, who led the series 3-0 before losing Sunday in Colorado, had to fight against a Memphis team once again carried by its Serbian "joker" Nikola Jokic, who scored 30 points.
Serbian Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets hugs Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors after the final game of their first round of the NBA playoffs on April 27, 2022 in San Francisco EZRA SHAW GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
Golden State, however, had more aces up its sleeve.
Draymond Green again led the defense perfectly, while Klay Thompson and Gary Payton II, both authors of 15 points, thus perfectly supported Curry, to take over the Nuggets in the last quarter won 32 to 20.
- Giannis "raises his voice" -
"You could see in the first three quarters that we forgot how to fold a game," said the all-time leading three-point scorer in NBA history, fully recovered from the ankle injury that plagued him. stopped a month before the play-offs.
"The nerves, the energy, the pressure... It's been a long time since we felt all that. We still know how to do it, but we had to fight. It feels good to get through," added Curry , 34 years old.
In Milwaukee, Antetokounmpo had decided to "raise the tone" and "play hard" against the Bulls, who could only see the damage.
The Greek, twice voted best player in the league (MVP) in 2019 and 2020, made 11 of his 15 shots and also took 9 rebounds.
Giannis Antetokounmpo during the Milwaukee Bucks' final game of the NBA play-offs first round against the Chicago Bulls on April 27, 2022 in Milwaukee Stacy Revere GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
"Sometimes when you're leading by 15 or 20 points you start to fall asleep and slack off, but our team managed to stay calm, keep playing hard and taking shots," he said.
Bulls star DeMar DeRozan was only able to score 11 points.
The upcoming duel against the Celtics makes Antetokounmpo salivate.
"It's heavy, we need to rest, train, work on video, take care of our bodies and be ready to challenge Boston," he said.
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