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The road to 60 victories is not direct. There are moments of glory, emotional buzzers, comebacks, surprises and gritty performances on the back of back-to-backs. There are also disappointments, shocks, injuries and nights where nothing goes well.
On Sunday night at the Fiserv Forum, the Milwaukee Bucks almost dropped the rope with a lead of 17 against the humble and devastated Atlanta Hawks. They shot poorly most of the night, completed only 9 of 41 (22%) in triples and lost the ball, perhaps too lazy, although they do not always look like the best team in the NBA.
Giannis Antetokounmpo killed during the first quarter of Sunday on his way to a team of 30 points. (Photo: Jeff Hanisch / USA TODAY Sports)
But when the decisive moment came, his stars were there to close the door. Giannis Antetokounmpo hit an uncomfortable runner for a y-one, Khris Middleton got a rebound from the shooter by hitting three consecutive triples and then Antetokounmpo scored three of his own as the Bucks converted a three-point game in a comfortable 115- 107 victory at the Fiserv forum.
It was not always pretty, but in the standings, it counts the same as his memorable away wins in Denver, Oakland, Toronto and Philadelphia. With one more in his account, the popular song "Bucks in 6" multiplied by 10 when a song of "60 victories" broke out in the waning moments of the game.
"Six years ago, it was my first year here and we had 15 victories," said Antetokounmpo. "Now we have four times that amount." Is big. Our goal to reach the season was not to win 60 victories, but you should definitely appreciate every moment. It's pretty special. After basketball, I'll tell my kids that I won 60, 60 wins. "
POINT OF SCORE: Bucks 115, Hawks 107
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The Bucks reached 60 wins for the fifth time in the history of the franchise, the first time they did it since the 1980-81 season and they still have one game left. It seems that the Bucks (60-21) achieved the feat against former coach Mike Budenholzer's team, which led to a 60-22 season in 2014-15 on the road to the honor of the NBA coach of the year.
With the victory, Budenholzer became the seventh coach to win 60 games with several teams, according to ESPN. The other six are Mike D & # 39; Antoni, Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Rick Adelman, Don Nelson, and K.C. Jones.
"I'm probably just trying to enjoy it a little more," Budenholzer said when asked what he learned, reaching 60 wins for the second time. "Having gone through some different things, different places, (simply) makes me appreciate the group and what they did, what they achieved …
"This group, their work ethic, from the beginning, really summer, their focus, their effort, just to enjoy that kind of union and commitment to what we are doing at both ends, I am very lucky".
Antetokounmpo, although limited to only 25 minutes, accumulated 30 points in 10 of 15 shots along with nine rebounds and three badists, including nine points in the fourth quarter to ensure victory. Middleton added eight of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, including the pair of triples that gave the Bucks a break.
Those two drove in a starting drive that dominated the Hawks (29-52) throughout the night, as each starter finished the night at least plus-14 during his time on the court. With the young stars in the making, Trae Young and John Collins, among the many marginalized Hawks, the remaining Atlanta players were no match for the Milwaukee starters.
But with the playoffs less than a week away, the Bucks took a cautious approach. Budenholzer was liberal with his minute minutes spread equitably, nine players registered 20 minutes or more and no one surpbaded the nearly 27 1/2 minutes of Sterling Brown. With reserves on the court, the Bucks could not make enough shots or match the energy of the Hawks, especially with Atlanta center Alex Len, who warmed up late with 15 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter.
The Bucks bowed at times, but they did not break, as they never followed the path to become the only team to reach the milestone of 60 wins this season.
"I think you enjoy it more in the summer when you look back," said Antetokounmpo. "You enjoy it a little now, but if you enjoy the moment for a long time, you lose track of what's important, the important thing is to improve every day, so it's just another day in the office, man." You just have to do your I work, enjoy it a bit and then come back the next day and do your job again. "
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Before the game, Antetokounmpo received the 2018-19 EuroPlayer Award as the best European basketball player on behalf of the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport. He received the award from veteran columnist La Gazzetta, Mbadimo Lopes Pegna, in a ceremony in the midfield that included his teammate of the Bucks and four-time EuroPlayer Prize winner Pau Gasol.
For the last 40 years, the award has been voted on by a selection of European players from all over the world, including the European players of the NBA.