The Nets put together an impressive roster with the arrival on January 13 of James Harden from Houston. They fulfilled during the regular phase in which they qualified in second place in the East and eliminated the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. What was not to be expected is that they would be capable of such an overwhelming display as the one they offered against the Milwaukee Bucks in the second game of the Eastern Conference semifinals. They won 125-86 and dominate 2-0. The 39 points difference is the largest victory in the history of the Nets, who also surpassed their record of 19 3-pointers in a game, with 21 hits on 42 pitches (50% accuracy).
The beating occurred despite the absence of James Harden who suffered from a muscle injury in the opening moments of the first game. 24-year-old guard Bruce Brown took his place in the starting lineup.
Kevin Durant led his team and it took him 33 minutes to add 32 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists. Kyrie Irving added 22 minutes. The Nets could afford to dose their starters. When the last quarter began they dominated 103-70. Steve Nash brought in the substitutes. And the difference continued to increase to 49 points (123-74) with four minutes remaining.
The Bucks were very off the mark, especially on 3-pointers at 8-of-27. Middleton had 17 points on a 7-of-20 shooting from the field. And Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 18 points, but missed all three of his triples and was evident from the free throw line, with two hits on seven shots. Nothing worked in the Bucks ‘scheme and their backups were also outmatched by the Nets’ second unit. The best-of-seven tie now moves to Milwaukee.
Brooklyn, 125; Milwaukee, 86
Brooklyn: Kyrie Irving (22), Brown (13), Harris (13), Kevin Durant (32), Blake Griffin (7) -starting team-; Claxton (4), Mike James (10), Shamet (9), A. Johnson (2), Perry (8), Chiozza (0), T. Johnson (2) and Luwawu (3).
Milwaukee: Holiday (13), Middleton (17), Giannis Antetokounmpo (18), Tucker (2), Brook Lopez (10) -starting team-; Thanasis Antetokounmpo (2), Portis (2), Connaughton (0), Forbes (10), Diakite (0), Teague (0), J. Jackson (6), Merrill (0) and Bryant (0).
Partial: 36-19, 29-22, 30-24 and 30-21.
Barclays Center in Brooklyn. 15,776 spectators.
Phoenix defeats Denver
Chris Paul overcame his shoulder pain and led Phoenix’s victory over Denver 122-105. The Suns dominate the West semifinal 1-0.
The 36-year-old point guard had 21 points and 11 assists. Three more starters for the Suns reached 20 points: Bridges with 23, Booker with 21 and Ayton with 20 points and 10 rebounds. The Nuggets’ hitting percentages were much lower and only Jokic surpassed that number, with 22 points and 9 rebounds. Gordon added 18 points and Campazzo, 14 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals.
Philadelphia-Atlanta (1.30, early Tuesday to Wednesday. Hawks dominate 0-1)
Utah-Clippers (4.00, early Tuesday to Wednesday. First game of the series)
Phoenix-Denver (3.30, early Wednesday to Thursday)