Bucks rout Celtics to clinch series 4-1

The team with the best record in the NBA 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.

The top-seeded Bucks now advance to the Eastern finals, where they will have the home-court advantage over the winner of the other Eastern semifinal between Toronto and Philadelphia. Those two hopefuls meet in a Game 6 in Philadelphia on Thursday night, with the second-seeded Raptors holding a 3-2 lead.

Avenging a seven-game, first-round loss to the Celtics last season, the Bucks won four straight in the series after being stunned 122-90 at home in the best-of-seven opener.

Milwaukee trailed for just a matter of seconds late in the first quarter in the clincher, building as much as a 16-point lead in the second quarter and 18 in the third before coasting home.

The Bucks used balanced scoring and a stingy defense to eliminate the fourth-seeded Celtics, who had reached the Eastern finals against Cleveland each of the last two seasons.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led seven players in double figures with 20 points for the Bucks, who will be making their first appearance in the conference finals since 2001, when they lost to Philadelphia. Antetokounmpo also found time for eight rebounds and a game-high eight assists.

Khris Middleton (19 points), Eric Bledsoe (18), George Hill (16), Nikola Mirotic (10) and Ersan Ilyasova (10) also scored in double figures for the Bucks, who shot 44.7 percent overall and outscored the Celtics 45-21 on 3-pointers. The Bucks also got 10 points in 17 minutes from guard Malcolm Brogdon, who was returning from a heel injury that had sidelined him since March 15.

Mirotic shared team-high rebounding honors with Pat Connaughton with 11 apiece.

Kyrie Irving had 15 points to top the Celtics, who had beaten the Bucks in five of their previous six postseason head-to-heads.

Irving shot 6-for-21 overall and 1-for-7 on 3-pointers, and was limited to one assist in what could be his final game as a Celtic. He can become a free agent this summer.

Marcus Morris and Jayson Tatum finished with 14 points apiece, and Jaylen Brown had 12 for the Celtics, who shot just 31.2 percent from the field.

Morris completed a double-double with a team-high 11 rebounds.

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