For the first time in these playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks are facing elimination. The Brooklyn Nets defeated the Bucks by a score of 114-108 and now have a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup.
After trailing by as many as 17 points in the 3rd quarter the Nets hit the Bucks with an unexpected scoring blitz and in the blink of an eye, they were down single digits. The second-half charge was led by Nets’ star Kevin Durant who finished the night with 49 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists including a clutch dagger three to put the Nets up four in the final minute of the game.
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Giannis Wants Challenge of Guarding Kevin Durant
During Durant’s scoring avalanche the Bucks’ primary defenders on the two-time NBA Finals MVP were Khris Middleton and PJ Tucker. This left many to wonder why Giannis did not take the assignment of guarding Durant as a former NBA Defensive Player of the Year. The Bucks’ star pledges to take on the challenge of guarding the Nets’ star in a pivotal elimination game.
“I want to take the challenge, and obviously, everybody’s gonna have a chance to guard him, but I would love going into Game 6 to be able to guard him and if coach wants me to do that, I’m ready for that,” Giannis said per Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “We have to just keep containing him as much as possible, but at the end of the day, he’s done an unbelievable job. Best player in the world, best scorer in the world.”
Giannis Knows from first hand experience, there are going to be some nights that KD has it going and there will be nothing the defense can do to stop him. But the Bucks can’t allow an all-world player like Durant to demoralize them, just play their best defense and live with the results.
“There’s going to be nights where he’s going to do what he did tonight and have 50, and there’s going to be nights that we’re going to try to contain him as much as possible and give ourselves a chance to be in the game and be in position to win the game,” Giannis continued.
“Just keep making it tough. Obviously, one of the best scorers to ever play the game It’s tough. He’s the best player in the world right now, and we’ve got to beat him as a team. We’ve got to guard him as a team, and we’ve got to make him make tough shots, like tonight, and we’ve just got to keep doing our job, and hopefully, he’s going to miss. But we’ve got to keep doing our job, keep guarding together, keep showing help, keep making it tough, keep picking him up full court.”
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Tim Thomas Sounds off on Milwaukee’s Chances To Win
Ex-Bucks Forward Tim Thomas played for the franchise from 1994-2004. He along with future Hall of Famer Ray Allen enjoyed much playoff success so he knows a thing or two about what it takes to compete in the postseason. The Nets who came into this series as the favorites now find themselves in a battle as the series shifts back to Milwaukee with injuries to two of their stars. Thomas agrees that is what ultimately will be the reason the Bucks advance to the next round.
“They’re more aggressive, they were too tentative. They got in rhythm being home. Game 5, it’s a matter of will and desire,” Thomas told Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson of Bally Sports.
After being clobbered by 39 points in Game 2, it seemed like this series was all but over for the Bucks as the firepower of the Nets was just too overwhelming for the them to combat. However, Milwaukee took care of business at home and find themselves right back in this series, while Brooklyn finds themselves injured and fighting to move on to the next rounds.
Thomas Sounds off on Nets Injuries
“With them being healthy, they have a legit shot to beat the Nets in this series. No matter what happens with Harden and Kyrie, they’re not coming back at 100 percent. Now it’s about playing at 60 percent, 70 percent because you’re not going to have guys playing the rest of the playoffs,” Thomas continued. “It’s always tough around this time of the year. The injuries can set the team back and, as a player, your ability to execute and produce. Now is the time for KD to show his greatness.”
Injuries are a part of the business of sports and are something that cannot be avoided. The Nets took all the right precautions with their stars throughout the season and unfortunately for them, they still got bit by the injury bug at an inopportune time. For Brooklyn there is no need to cry over spilled milk, their reserves will have to deliver if they want to avoid an early exit.