The Brooklyn Nets have been firing on all cylinders during their Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks, which is why they hold a 2-0 lead as the series shifts to the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. Brooklyn has been impressive on offense in this series. The Nets have scored at least 115 points in each of their first two matchups with the Bucks which has been led by their All-Star forward Kevin Durant who has been averaging 32.0 points per game in these playoffs.
What has been even more impressive on the part of the Nets is their defense, specifically how they have held reigning two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo in check.
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NBA Sends Warning to Nets About Trolling Giannis
In his two games against the Nets, Antetokounmpo is averaging 26 points per game which is slightly lower than his 28.1 points per game average during the regular season. A contributing factor to that could be Giannis’ low shooting numbers from the free-throw line as he is shooting just 2-10 from the charity stripe in this series.
Giannis, who is historically a subpar free-throw shooter adjusted his free throw form this season so that he takes slightly longer to shoot his free throws. As per the NBA rules, the free throw shooter is required to take their shot within 10 seconds of receiving the ball from the referee, if they take longer than 10 seconds it is considered a violation and they forfeit the free throw.
Giannis has violated this rule several times this season and to troll the Bucks star, the Nets displayed a 10-second countdown clock at the Barclays Center during Game 1. The league office was not happy about the Nets’ trolling and sent them a warning ahead of Game 2 as a result.
“An NBA source said the league ordered the Nets to cut out the gamesmanship tactic of a timer shown on the overhead scoreboard at Barclays Center during Game 1 of their playoff series against the Bucks whenever the two-time MVP was at the line,” writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. “The league doesn’t advocate teams inciting the taunting of other players, the source added.”
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Nash and Budenholzer Claim They Didn’t See the Timer
With the rambunctious crowd rocking the arena at Barclays Center it was hard for the coaches to hear let alone notice a countdown clock on the jumbotron. Both head coaches were completely oblivious to the shot clock while the game was in progress.
“I haven’t been [paying attention]. I just really want to focus on our team. The whole thing is kind of confusing: Is it a rule? Is it not a rule? Are we calling it? Are we not calling it?” Nets head coach Steve Nash told reporters after Game 1 per the New York Post. “But there’s more important things, and you can only focus on so many things, so it’s not necessarily there yet. Maybe my tune changes. But right now, I haven’t thought too much about it.”
Buck head coach Mike Budenholzer admits that he knew something was going on in the arena During Giannis’ free throws but was not sure what it was.
“There was one time where I felt like people were looking at the Jumbotron, but I didn’t really know why,” Budenholzer said. “You never know what’s going on up there, and it’s rare that I even can pick up the hint of something.”
After winning Game 2 by 39 points, it was clear that the Nets did not need another advantage to beat the Bucks. Heading to Milwaukee up 2-0 the Nets will be looking to take complete control of the series with a Game 3 win.