The Milwaukee Bucks will be crowned Eastern Conference champions for the first time in 45 years after they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.
A 128-122 victory ensured the Bucks would finish as Eastern Conference top seeds for the first time since 1974.
Coach Mike Budenholzer hailed a “really special” year for the franchise, as they get set to head into the post-season with aspirations of relieving the Golden State Warriors of their NBA crown.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 45 points as the Bucks made sure of home court advantage in the play-offs by picking off the 76ers.
“It’s been a really special year,” Bucks coach Budenholzer said. “I’m very proud of the team.”
The Bucks have 59 wins so far this term and now have three matches remaining to get to 60 regular season wins for just the fifth time in franchise history.
Antetokounmpo added more weight to his claims of being crowned the NBA’s Most Valuable Player this season with his latest haul of 45 points and 13 rebounds.
He now has 25 points or more and 10 rebounds or more in a game 42 times this season already. And, unsurprisingly, his coach is backing him for the MVP award.
“It’s a special performance from him. It felt like a statement. He’s an MVP in our eyes,” he added.
“We didn’t play our best but had a couple of guys catch fire. Any time you can have home court in the play-offs it’s a great thing.”
Golden State, meanwhile, improved to 54 wins and 24 losses with four regular season games left and boast a two-game lead over Denver Nuggets in the West as they continue to try and secure top billing for the play-offs.