NBA Champions put on Notice for Ducking the Nets

Kevin Durant Milwaukee Bucks

Getty Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets drives against Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks during their game at Barclays Center

The NBA play-in tournament schedule is set. The Brooklyn Nets will take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, April 12. If they win, they will become the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed and be matched up with the Boston Celtics. If they lose, they will play the loser of the nine vs. ten game of the play-in, and if they win, they will become the eighth seed in the East. If they lose the second play-in game, the Nets would be eliminated and enter the NBA draft lottery. 

For weeks, many have speculated that Eastern Conference teams were trying to avoid meeting the Nets in the first round. However, Nets star Kevin Durant had something else to say on that matter

“I don’t believe teams are doing that. I think a lot of teams are trying to make sure their guys are healthy going into the playoffs,” Durant said. “I don’t really think they are worried about us, to be honest, you know. So we just focus on what we do, and no matter who we play, just play our game.”

Will the Bucks Regret Ducking Brooklyn?

Despite Durant’s comments, many still believe that teams purposely lost at the end of the year to avoid the Nets in the first round. One of the people saying this is Bill Simmons. He believes that the Milwaukee Bucks worked to prevent a first round matchup against Brooklyn. However, The Book of Basketball writer thinks it is a move the Bucks may live to regret. Saying on the April 11 episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast

“I’m not just saying this because my team ended up throwing the smackdown and trying to play them; I would much rather play Brooklyn in round one. Because I do think, what if Ben Simmons is back in time for round two, and they can get 20-25 minutes of good defense?” Simmons said. 

“From Milwaukee’s standpoint, I would have just wanted to play them and get it over with because I think they would have beaten them. I think it’s weird that they avoided it,” Simmons continued.

Will Ben Simmons Make Teams Regret Avoiding Them? 

News broke Sunday of a possible first round playoff return for Ben Simmons as he is revamping and conditioning from his back injury. Shams Charania of “The Athletic” confirmed ‘optimism’ surrounding a Simmons return via his Twitter account on April 10. 

While Simmons has been ruled out for the play-in tournament, hope was restored when he was seen shooting in warmups before Brooklyn’s April 10 game

If Simmons does return, his defense is something that quickly bolsters the Nets lineup. In just 2020, Simmons was second in Defensive Player of the Year voting, and his play would do a lot to improve the Nets play on that side of the floor. Simmons would take pressure off of Durant and Irving and be able to guard the other team’s best player. While his return is still not guaranteed, it would undoubtedly be a game-changer for the franchise. Bill Simmons’ point is a good one. It would be better to get the Nets over with in the first round before Ben Simmons is back and playing 20-25 playoff minutes of hard-nosed defense. The NBA Champions were officially put on notice for a decision they may come to regret. 

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