The Milwaukee Bucks are returning to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1974 after Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday combined for 59 points in a 118-107 victory over the host Atlanta Hawks that wrapped up a 4-2 triumph in the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday night.
Despite having to play a second straight game without injured Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks earned the right to duel the Western champion Phoenix Suns in a best-of-seven that will tip off Tuesday in Arizona.
En route to a 51-21 record in the West, which was five games better than Milwaukee's 46-26 in the East, the Suns swept a pair of thrillers from the Bucks in the regular season, winning 125-124 at home on Feb. 10 and 128-127 in overtime at Milwaukee on April 19.
By virtue of having had the better record in the regular season, the Suns will have the home-court advantage in the series. Phoenix was seeded second in the West, Milwaukee third in the East.
The teams have met once previously in the playoffs, back when the Bucks were a Western Conference club. Seeded sixth, Milwaukee upset third-seeded Phoenix 2-0 in that 1978 first-round, best-of-three series.