Sports Desk, Sep 9 (efe-epa).- The Miami Heat completed its shock defeat of the highly touted, number 1 seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals, winning Game 5 on Tuesday to complete a 4-1 series victory.
The win means the Heat will appear in the Conference finals for the first time since 2014, when they went on to reach the NBA Finals.
The Bucks, who went into the postseason as the league’s highest ranked team and as many pundits’ favorites to become NBA champions, could not overcome the loss in Game 4 of their star and talisman, Giannis Antetokounmpo after he injured his ankle.
“Tried to do whatever is necessary to put my body in a position to play,” he said before sitting out a playoff game for the first time in his career.
“He’s not ready, he’s not healthy. We can’t put him at risk,” Budenholzer said afterwards. “Giannis would always play. He wants to be there for his teammates.”
The Bucks made a fast start to Game 5 as they bid to become the first team in history to overturn a three-game deficit in the postseason, opening up a 10-point lead during the first quarter.
Khris Middleton again led Milwaukee on offense, scoring 23 points, but it was not enough to make up for the absence of Antetokounmpo.
But the Heat responded with a 26-9 run during the second quarter, and went in at the half with a 52-46 lead.
Thanks to a balanced offense which saw six players contribute 12 or more points, including another standout performance from Jimmy Butler who put up 17 points and 10 rebounds, Miami remained in control throughout the second half, and ended the game comfortable 103-94 winners.
The Bucks will have to wait to see who their opponents in the Conference finals will be, as the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors prepare for Game 6 on Wednesday with the Celtics up 3-2 in the series.
In the Western Conference semi-final series, the evergreen LeBron James scored 36 points for the Los Angeles Lakers, who beat the Houston Rockets 112-102 in Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead.
LeBron added six rebounds, five assists and four blocks on the night he notched his 162nd playoff game win, the best record in NBA history.
He was ably supported by another veteran in the form of Rajon Rondo, who scored 21 points and laid on nine assists.
Rondo came off the bench to provide the spark the Lakers needed with the game tied up in the fourth quarter, scoring eight points in a 10-0 streak that gave LA a decisive lead.
Anthony David added a double-double of 26 points and 15 rebounds with six assists as he dominated inside the box.
For the Rockets, James Harden scored 33 points and grabbed nine rebounds and assists each as Houston succumbed to a second consecutive loss.
Russell Westbrook added 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists but was also unable to provide that winning spark for the team that have consistently fallen short in the Western Conference semifinals in recent years. EFE-EPA sd/ks