Playoff preparation the focus for Bucks as Giannis crushes Bulls

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 46 points as the Milwaukee Bucks recorded a comfortable 113-97 win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday, but for coach Doc Rivers, results are currently less important than preparing for the playoffs.

The Bucks sit third in the Eastern Conference with a 40-21 record following their blowout win at United Center, pulling clear of Chicago with a 17-0 run after a slight scare at the start of the fourth quarter.

Milwaukee have now won five straight games, limiting their last four opponents to fewer than 100 points, and they are 8-7 since Rivers replaced Adrian Griffin in January.

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With the Bucks tipped for a run at their third NBA Championship, Rivers’ attention is already on the postseason.

Speaking after Friday’s game, Rivers said: “We’re winning games, but for us, it’s not about right now. Our whole key is getting ready. That’s the first thing I told the players.

“We still have work to do, we’re still pushing, we’ve got to get better. It’s nicer to get wins than to lose, but we’re not where we want to be yet.”

Friday’s win was Antetokounmpo’s 489th with the Bucks, including both regular-season and playoff games, taking him clear of Sidney Moncrief for the most victories in franchise history outright.

The two-time NBA MVP added 16 rebounds and six assists to go with his eighth 40-point performance of the season, while Damian Lillard (16 points) led four other Bucks in double figures.

“Everybody has to be on the same page, and I feel like the last couple of games, we’re doing that and that’s why our defense has taken a step,” Antetokounmpo said of the team’s improved form.

“Hopefully, we can keep it up. Right now, it’s just about trust. We’ve just got to trust one another. That’s it, win or lose, we have to have the same trust.”

The Bucks are back in action against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, before they begin a four-game California road stretch against the Golden State Warriors two days later.

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