The Brooklyn Nets season comes to a disappointing end in an overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 7 in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. Only making it to the second round of the playoffs is, of course, a disappointment to this team. However, injuries played a significant role in the outcome of this series.

First off, Kevin Durant proved that he is one of one in NBA history, as possibly one of the best scorers ever to play the game of basketball. His almost spiritual Game 5, and then dominate Game 7, proves just how great a player he is. When Durant was asked to be at his best, he scored 129 points in three games, on just eight minutes rest in those games. If there were any questions about his legacy, they have been put to rest. In Game 5, Durant was the first NBA player to win a playoff game, scoring over 45 points, 15 rebounds, adding 10 assists, and then scoring the most points ever in a Game 7. Durant had nearly ended the Bucks season on a last-second shot at the end of regulation in Game 7, but sadly his toe was just on the line, to only tie the game.

Durant needed to go to this extreme in Games 5 and 7 primarily because of the injuries to both James Harden and Kyrie Irving. In Game 1, Harden played under a minute before hurting his hamstring, and even though he came back to play the last three games, Harden was a shell of himself, lacking quickness and lateral movement. Irving suffered a high ankle sprain while landing on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s ankle after a layup attempt in Game 4, keeping him out for the rest of the series.

Durant also didn’t have the help that he thought he might have, as Joe Harris struggled in this series. Harris shot 33% from three, 15% lower than his league-leading three-point percentage at 48%. This drop-off in production for Harris might have been because he was used to being the fourth option on offense or even forgotten about in the regular season. However, in the playoff’s teams have more time to game plan for Harris, and then with Harden and Irving injured, it put more of the offensive load on Harris and the defense’s attention. It seemed to shack his confidence, as he started to miss wide-open threes late in games and even missed a few driving layups with very little contest.

On defense, the Nets proved that the team could be better than average on that side of the ball when it matters most. They forced the Bucks to average only 105 points per game in their seven-game series, compared to the Bucks regular-season average of 120.1 points per game. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday averaged over 15 points for the series. Still, outside of Antetokounmpo, they were not the officiant, with Holiday and Middleton shooting under 41% from the field.

On the other hand, Middleton came alive in a crucial Game 3 and Game 6, in both games scoring the most points in the game, with 35 and 38. Both games were must-win, and Antetokounmpo needed the scoring help for victories in those games. Holiday did not have a standout game in the series but hit the game-winning layup in Game 3 and scored five straight points at the end of the fourth quarter in Game 7 to force the Nets to play from behind.

After Irving’s injury, the Nets had no business being in this series. The Bucks had a two-time MVP and two all-stars/borderline all-stars against Durant, pretty much alone. If the Nets stars could have just been healthy, it would have been a different series, and with that said, the Nets will have all their stars next season and an offseason to build the right team around them.

 

 

 

Photo: Elsa/Getty Images/NetsDaily

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