National Basketball Association play-offs: Milwaukee Bucks beat Boston Celtics to make Eastern final

Gordon Hayward Jayson Tatum Jaylen Brown and Daniel Theis during the fourth quarter of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in Milwaukee

National Basketball Association play-offs: Milwaukee Bucks beat Boston Celtics to make Eastern final

The team with the best record in the National Basketball Association regular season also won the race to be the first into the postseason conference finals Wednesday night, when the Milwaukee Bucks ran away from the visiting Boston Celtics for a series-clinching, 116-91 victory.

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The Bucks dropped the opener by 22 points before sweeping the next four. The public betting for the contest is now split down the middle, 50-50.

Milwaukee leads the series 3-1 and is looking to eliminate the Celtics on Wednesday night. The Celtics haven't covered in any of the three losses.

Last season, Boston was the hurdle Milwaukee couldn't clear.

The Bucks have relied on their bench heavily in Games 3 and 4 against the Celtics.

Mirotic shared team-high rebounding honors with Pat Connaughton with 11 apiece. Jayson Tatum and Marcus Morris each had 14. In particular, he's been a deadly scoring weapon for the Bucks the past two games, scoring 21 and 15 points.

The expectations simply were too much for a team predicted to win over 60 games and a player who wanted his own team so badly he forced his way out of Cleveland and away from LeBron James. This year, they looked like a jumbled mess, and Irving's insistence to continually shoot the ball did everything but help. Statistically, he's under his regular-season averages in points, rebounds, and assists.

Giannis Antetokounmpo waved off cameras filming him watching game tape in the locker room.

The 6-foot-5 combo guard will be on a minutes restriction.

The big picture: Since suffering through a rough Game 1, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks have imposed their will on their opponent en route to three straight wins.

The only surprise was that he didn't tear off his jersey when the game ended, the ideal I'm-outta-here visual, a la South Beach-bound James in 2010 after the Celtics eliminated his Cavaliers.

Irving is undoubtedly the Celtics' best player, and losing him for nothing could derail the franchise's long-term plans. Middleton couldn't hit anything and I would expect that to change at home today.

Irving, who could become one of the most prominent free agents, talked about "moving on to the next thing", indicating he could play elsewhere.

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