In hindsight, Game 4 of the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals may have changed the course of NBA history. The outcome of that night ultimately ended the Brooklyn Nets‘ chances at securing the franchise’s first NBA title.
The Nets came into that game up 2-1 in the series, hoping to take a commanding 3-1 lead. But their plans got foiled that night after their star point guard Kyrie Irving landed on Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo’s foot. That play led to Kyrie suffering a sprained ankle which held him out for the remainder of the series, which they lost in seven games.
The Nets and the Bucks met on October 12 for one of Brooklyn’s final two preseason matchups. During the contest, Antetokounmpo gave Nets fans a familiar scare when he dove for a loose ball near Kyrie’s ankles, an act that can often leave players vulnerable to injury.
Nets fans on Twitter ripped the two-time NBA MVP for a dangerous play that could have potentially ended much worse for their star point guard.
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Giannis Sounds off on Bucks’ Struggles
Many experts have picked Giannis and the Bucks to contend for this year’s NBA title after adding free agents Joe Ingles and Wesley Matthews to a returning core that went to the Eastern Conference Semifinals just a year ago
Although it is just the preseason, the Bucks have looked lackluster in their exhibition games. They now have a preseason record of 0-5 after losing to Brooklyn on Wednesday. If it is any indicator of how they will perform once the regular season starts, they could be in trouble playing in an Eastern Conference loaded with talent.
Giannis, who is just two years removed from winning his first championship in 2020, doesn’t expect the road to get any easier.
“It’s good, you know, getting back in the rhythm is not going to be easy. You know, I think sometimes your mind forgets you think it’s going to be easy and you can expect things,” Giannis told reporters following the Bucks’ fifth consecutive loss via Marca.
“You know, I feel like me personally, we got to, you know, come out and set the tone, play hard, build good habits, play to improve, play for the team. And as a team, we have to be hungry. You know, we have to play together. We’ve got to defend better because it’s not going to be easy.”
Ben Simmons Has Strong Response to Critics
Ben Simmons has played every preseason game for the Nets, but as the exhibition games near the end, he gets closer to playing his first regular season game in over a year. It’s an entirely different obstacle to tackle because all eyes will be on him to see how he performs with his new team. Especially given the way he exited the Philadelphia 76ers.
Simmons will be under heavy scrutiny whether he plays good or bad. But the three-time All-Star has come to expect that. He believes it is a compliment to have such high expectations placed upon him because it means people know what he is capable of.
“Because people know what I can do, what I’m capable of,” Simmons said to ESPN’s Nick Friedell (via NetsDaily). “I believe that’s what it is. Like if I was somebody that wasn’t capable of doing certain things, I don’t think people would be on my a** as much. And I don’t mind it because it kind of motivates me, in a way. Obviously, sometimes it’s a lot for anybody to deal with that, but I look at it a little bit like a respect thing, in a way.
This season will undoubtedly be the biggest of Simmons’ young career. It will be interesting to see if he silences his critics.