Throughout the series, the Nets tried to take advantage of Antetokounmpo’s ineffectiveness as a shooter, a weakness that has vexed him throughout several playoff runs. Defenders routinely left him open on the perimeter or sent him to the free-throw line, where he also struggled. That made Antetokounmpo, a two-time Most Valuable Player Award winner, less of a threat late in games.
But Antetokounmpo still managed to have one of the best series of his career. Through the first six games, he averaged 30.5 points and 12.8 rebounds per game on 56.5 percent shooting. It was good enough to get the Bucks to a Game 7, and to the Eastern Conference finals for the second time in Antetokounmpo’s career.
The Nets had difficulty getting production from their role players, many of whom had career years. Joe Harris, one of the best shooters in the N.B.A., struggled all series — shooting just 35.5 percent from the field and only 32.5 percent from 3 through the first six games.
The Bucks’ series win brings them one step closer to winning their first championship since 1971, when the team was led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In the Eastern Conference finals, they’ll will face the winner of the other semifinal matchup, between the Atlanta Hawks and the Philadelphia 76ers. That matchup is headed to a Game 7 on Sunday, after the Sixers tied the series behind a strong performance from Seth Curry on Friday. The Eastern Conference finals are set to begin on Wednesday.
The Nets missed a chance to make their first conference finals since 2002 and 2003, when they were in New Jersey led by Jason Kidd. Both of those years, the Nets went to the finals. They haven’t won a championship since the A.B.A. merged with the N.B.A. in 1976.