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AP Photo Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks dunks during Game 5 of their NBA playoff basketball game Wednesday in Milwaukee.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks continue to produce in the playoffs, even without key performers.

The Chicago Bulls just don’t have that kind of depth or playoff sense.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 33 points and nine rebounds and the Bucks beat the Bulls 116-100 on Wednesday night to end their five-game first-round streak.

The Bucks have won the last three games by averaging 23.3 points despite playing without Khris Middleton, the All-Star who sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee during the fourth quarter of game 2.

The third-seeded Bucks advanced to face second-seeded Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals with Game 1 Sunday in Boston. The Celtics swept Brooklyn.

“After Game 2 we kind of talked about how we knew what the deal was,” says Antetokounmpo. “The team knew what the deal was. We knew what we had to do. We must have been desperate. We had to go out there and compete at a high level, pay attention to detail as much as possible, help each other defensively. We have to do it as a team.”

The Bucks have been through this before. They won their first title since 1971 last season despite losing Antetokounmpo in the final two games of the Eastern Conference Finals to a hyperextended knee.

“We talked a lot about the depth of the roster, the quality of the roster this season,” said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer. “Other guys had opportunities and played well. Our defense has tightened up and we’ve relied on that a lot these three games. We have depth. We have a good group.

Antetokounpmo appeared to have his left wrist treated during the first half, but that clearly didn’t limit his effectiveness. Antetokounmpo said afterwards that he felt “awesome,” and Budenholzer added that “We think he’s fine.”

While the Bucks have thrived without Middleton, Chicago hasn’t handled the loss of key players as well.

The Bulls played without the starting backcourt they used for the first four games because two-time All-Star Zach LaVine was in health and safety protocols and Alex Caruso was in concussion protocol. Without them on the floor, the Bulls trailed by as much as 29 points in the first half.

“It was a big part of our guys’ first rodeo, just figuring out what it’s like to be in a playoff,” said DeMar DeRozan of Chicago. “There’s so much you can learn from this experience, especially against the defending champions.”

Milwaukee focused on reining in DeRozan, who scored 41 points in the Bulls’ Game 2 win. DeRozan was limited to 11 points on Wednesday as he shot 5 of 10, although he also had seven assists.

“That was the game plan – to show him a lot of body and force everyone to beat us,” said Bucks goaltender Wesley Matthews.

Antetokounmpo was 1 of 15 from the floor and 11 of 14 from the free throw line. Pat Connaughton went 6 of 9 on 3-point attempts and scored 20 points. Bobby Portis added a career-high 14 points and 17 rebounds.

Patrick Williams scored 23 points, Nikola Vucevic 19 and Coby White 17 for the Bulls. Vucevic also had 16 rebounds and six assists.

DeRozan didn’t score a goal in the first 26 minutes of the game and only attempted one shot in the first quarter as he tried to get his teammates involved.

The problem was that Chicago’s other players weren’t hitting open shots, allowing the Bucks to take command early.

“It was pretty obvious that they were going to charge DeMar,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “I think he played a great game. I thought he was generating good shots. He didn’t have total assists because we really didn’t shoot the ball well, but he would have had a lot of assists if we had shot the ball better.

Milwaukee took the lead for a solid 3 1/2 minutes in the game and built a double-digit lead by scoring 12 straight points in the first quarter. Late in the first period, the Bucks went on a 23-2 streak that helped them improve to 49-20 with 7:25 left in the second period.

Chicago outscored the Bucks 22-11 the rest of the second quarter and cut the margin to 11 on Ayo Dosunmu’s 3-point play with 9:32 left in the third quarter, but that’s as close as the Bulls would get. .

TIPS

Bulls: The Bulls attempted 52 3-pointers and only 40 from inside the arc. Chicago only made 28.8 percent of their 3-point shots. … The Bulls haven’t made it past the first round of the playoffs since 2015, when they beat the Bucks before losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Semifinals. … With LaVine and Caruso unavailable, Javonte Green and Dosunmu made their first playoff starts.

Bucks: Reserve goaltender George Hill still hasn’t played this postseason due to abdominal strain. Hill had been listed as questionable in the injury report on Wednesday before being ruled out, an indication that he is closing in on a comeback. Budenholzer said before the match that Hill was “make progress” but added that “he needs more time.” … The Bucks have won 20 of their last 22 meetings with the Bulls. … Jrue Holiday had 10 points and nine assists but also committed six turnovers.



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