Bucks rally in 4th to beat Nets 124-118, clinch playoff spot

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Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, middle, drives to the basket between Brooklyn Nets' Jeff Green, left, and Kevin Durant, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, May 4, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee's late-season schedule has given the Bucks plenty of opportunities to measure themselves against the two teams they’re chasing in the Eastern Conference standings.

The results have been encouraging.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 36 points and the Bucks used a fourth-quarter rally to beat the Brooklyn Nets for the second time in three days, winning 124-118 on Tuesday night. This mini-sweep comes less than two weeks after the Bucks won two straight games from East-leading Philadelphia.

“I'm happy we were able to put on a show for our fans and able to build good habits in those games, but that's all,” said Antetokounmpo, who also had 12 rebounds. “They don't mean nothing. Nobody's going to remember these games when we're in the playoffs.”

Brooklyn (43-23) lost its third straight to fall 1½ games behind Philadelphia (44-21) . Milwaukee (41-24) clinched a fifth straight playoff appearance, but is third in the East, three behind Philadelphia and 1½ behind Brooklyn.

The Bucks are chasing their first NBA title since 1971. They posted the NBA's best regular-season record in 2018-19 and 2019-20, but lost in the Eastern Conference finals two seasons ago and in the second round last year.

That's why they're not making too much about their regular-season success against the teams ahead of them.

After all, the Nets didn't have James Harden for either of their two losses in Milwaukee. Philadelphia didn’t have All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons playing together in any of its matchups with Milwaukee.