Nets look to carry momentum of Brooklyn sweep into Game 3 against Bucks in Milwaukee
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
The Brooklyn Nets constantly implored that they would miss James Harden, but it certainly didn’t look like it on the floor in Game 2 as they obliterated the Milwaukee Bucks 125-86 — a 39-point margin of victory — to take a 2-0 series lead.
Harden was sidelined with a re-aggravation of a hamstring injury that held him out for a month near the end of the regular season, but Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving seamlessly picked up the slack.
Durant dropped a game-high 32 points while Irving added 22 in the romp over Milwaukee, all while holding superstar Giannis Antetokoumpo to just 18 points in just over 30 minutes.
“I think we just competed. You could talk about schemes and all that stuff but really our fight and our level of competition, guys being locked in, being aware of the game plan, and being able to take care of details has been outstanding,” Nash said of his team’s effort. “It’s gotta continue. It’s even gotta improve. They’re gonna raise their level and we’ve gotta raise ours as well.”
The ability for Irving and Durant to spread the wealth further cements the notion that these Nets won’t let past standings or accolades get in the way of a deep playoff run, especially when they’re up against a Bucks team that is trying to meet lofty expectations of their own.
“That’s how you play the game the right way,” Irving said. “You know, we are very special individually but the selflessness which you’re referring to is really what creates the difference. Defense is going to win us games down the stretch, but offensively playing the right way and trusting one another is — those little plays that make the difference towards the end of the game where we don’t have to go for it all right then and there wherever the score is.
“So, like I said, this team, we’ve grown so much and we continue to do so. Obviously, we’re missing James. You know, and we’re just filling in the pieces for him.”
As Irving alluded, the defensive fortitude was just as impressive as the offensive showing considering the Bucks were the top-scoring team in the regular season
“We recognize that they’re a very good team, and we have to bring everything we have,” Nash said. “And then I think continuity and confidence is growing. So I think we’re more aware of what we’re trying to accomplish and in more scenarios, and that’s helping us feel free to really go for it, play hard, compete, be willing and okay to make mistakes, but try to do the right things on both ends.”
Needless to say, the Nets will have to try and weather the storm that will be a strong push from the Bucks back home in Milwaukee for Game 3 on Thursday night.
“I feel like that’s every team’s mentality if you got home court,” Durant said. “We know how important Game 3’s are and we know that their crowd is going to be in it from the second we get on the floor for warmups and we know their guys play better and more comfortable when they sleep in their own beds and got their same routines at home. So we got our work cut out for us but we’re looking forward to it.”