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Two plays best sum up the Nets’ 124-118 loss to the Bucks on Tuesday, and those plays sum up Brooklyn’s odds should they meet in a playoff series against Milwaukee down the line.
Back-to-back missed shots from Kevin Durant, and an offensive rebound by Milwaukee’s Donte DiVincenzo encapsulate what could be a nightmare matchup in the postseason.
Durant followed a 42-point performance against the Bucks on Sunday with a 32-point outing on Tuesday. But it could have been 35 had he made either of the looks he got in a single possession with about a minute to go in the fourth quarter.
A transition three from the right wing, and a shot from the same spot two seconds later.
He missed both, forfeiting a chance to make it a two-point game in the waning moments and ultimately giving the Bucks rope to keep the Nets at bay.
The Nets had one more shot down the stretch after Giannis Antetokounmpo, who scored 36 points, missed on a deep three with 20 seconds to go. DiVincenzo, however, beat the Nets to the spot, tapping out an offensive rebound that embodied a night full of Bucks hustle plays, and a Nets’ lack thereof.
“They were just overall more physical with us at both ends at the floor,” said head coach Steve Nash. “We have to do the dirty work. We have to give ourselves some sort of buffer.”
Round Two of the Eastern Conference’s heavyweight bout between the Nets and Bucks did not disappoint. The two championship hopefuls traded blow after blow, run after run, with the Bucks emerging victorious because of their execution on the defensive end.
It was a chess match between two championship hopeful, with the Nets keeping the same game plan of letting Antetokounmpo shoot threes.
“Overall you’re gonna live with some of the shots he took,” Nash said.
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The Bucks pulled away with a 16-1 run late in the fourth quarter, with which Nash did not call a timeout. He didn’t think calling a timeout would have stopped the Bucks from running away, but conceded “maybe I should have” called one.
The Nets, who didn’t have James Harden for either of the two Milwaukee games, leaned heavily on their star power with Irving scoring 38 points after struggling on Sunday, when he shot 6-of-21 from the floor.
Nash said the Nets learned a lot from their two-game series that they can call on if they meet in the playoffs down the line. They’ll have Harden in that series, or at least that’s the hope for a team running out of time to build familiarity with a new roster.