The Brooklyn Nets needed Kevin Durant to be extra special and then some on Tuesday night, and he was all of that and maybe a little more.
Without Kyrie Irving and a limited James Harden, Durant put on a performance for the ages. The former MVP had a triple-double with 49 points on 16/23 shooting, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists as the Nets rallied to defeat the Bucks 114-108 at Barclays Center in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series.
Durant, who played all 48 minutes, became the first player in NBA playoff history to have 45-plus points, 15-plus rebounds, and 10-plus assists in a game. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Durant’s 49 points are the second-most in a triple-double game in playoff history.
“I was trying to win each possession,” Durant said after the game. “And I didn’t think of how many points I had or shot attempts, rebounds, assists.”
The Nets have a 3-2 series lead, and Game 6 is on Thursday night in Milwaukee.
The Bucks, who had a 17-point third-quarter lead, will be kicking themselves all summer long if they lose this series. This was a golden opportunity for Milwaukee to put themselves in a position to close out the series in Game 6. Now, they have to win two straight, including one at Barclays Center, to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
Regarding Durant, this might have been his signature moment. The Nets needed every one of his 49 points on Tuesday night. However, with Harden still not looking one-hundred-percent and Irving probably out for the series, Durant might need to have another big performance for Brooklyn to advance.
Don’t bet against the greatness of Durant. He has the potential to do this again, and don’t bet against the Bucks.
This series is not over!
NBA players from around the league were impressed by Durant’s special performance:
GREATNESS!! Appreciate it while you can people! #KD— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 16, 2021
You great killa!!! @KDTrey5— Allen Iverson (@alleniverson) June 16, 2021
In Game 3, the Brooklyn Nets, who were up 2-0 in their best-of-seven second-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks, had an 83-80 lead with under two minutes to go. However, Milwaukee outscored the Nets 6-0 to finish the game, including a Jrue Holiday layup to put them up for good as they defeated the Nets 86-83.
Brooklyn was so close to taking a commanding 3-0 lead, and that’s why it’s so important to close teams out when you have a chance.
On Sunday at Fiserv Forum, the Bucks defeated the Nets 107-96 in Game 4. The series is now tied at 2. The pivotal Game 5 is Tuesday night in Brooklyn.
Unfortunately for the Nets, they might be without James Harden(hamstring) and Kyrie Irving(ankle). Harden has not been active since injuring his right hamstring in Game 1 of this series, which was the same hamstring that forced him to miss time in the regular season, and Irving left Game 4 in the second quarter and did not return after turning his ankle on a layup attempt. Irving reportedly left the arena in a walking boot and crutches.
“It was a big adjustment tonight to play without him(Irving) and James(Harden), but we’ve had that type of year,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said after Game 4. “So, we have to find a way to figure it out, to look at the tape and get better.”
With Irving and Durant, the Nets were able to take a 2-0 series lead. Without Harden and Irving, the pressure is on Durant to be at his best, and Durant is good enough to carry this team to victory in one game, but he’s not good enough to do it over the final three games of this series, and while Durant did score 28 points in Game 4, he did shoot 9-25 from the field and seemed bothered by the defense of Milwaukee’s P.J. Tucker, but again, this is Durant, so we know he can bounce back.
The momentum is clearly on the side of the Bucks. Without Harden and Irving, the Bucks are the more talented team, but this is why home-court advantage is vital because role players tend to be better at home, so that means guys like Joe Harris, Bruce Brown, and Landry Shamet could step up for Brooklyn.
But in the end, no Harden, no Irving, could mean the Nets’ season could end in the second- round of the playoffs, which would be a huge disappointment.
The Dallas Mavericks are in playoff mode right now as they fight to stay out of the Play-in Tournament, and on Thursday night at American Airlines Center, Dallas defeated the Brooklyn Nets(43-24) 113-109.
With the win and the Lakers’ loss to the Clippers on Thursday night, Dallas(38-28) has sole possession of the fifth seed in the Western Conference. Dallas has a one-game lead on both the Lakers and Blazers.
Dallas was led by Luka Doncic’s 24 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists, while Tim Hardaway Jr. added 23. Kyrie Irving had a season and game-high 45 points for Brooklyn.
“We’ve got a little momentum here; we’ve got to keep it going,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. “The game tomorrow is obviously very, very important because of everything that is going on with the standings. We’ll get some rest and do our best to be ready.”
Doncic had 19 points in the first half but only had five points the rest of the way, including 2-11 from the field, but according to Carlisle, Doncic, who had seven rebounds and five assists in the second half, was able to impact the game in other ways.
“The thing, when Luka [Doncic] goes through periods where he’s not scoring, he finds other ways to impact the game,” Carlisle said. “He was rebounding really well during that stretch. He moved it to some guys for some really good shots. And he kept playing the game — that’s what you’ve got to do.”
Dorian Finney-Smith, who had 17 points against the Nets, did an excellent job against Kevin Durant and Dallas held him to 1-10 shooting from the field with four points in the second half. Durant finished the game 7/21 from the field with 20 points.
After the game, Finney-Smith discussed his defense against Durant.
“Man, he’s just one of those guys you try to make him uncomfortable because he can shoot anytime he wants (because) he’s so tall,” Finney-Smith said. “Sometimes you feel like you’re there. You feel like he just plays like he’s in front of a cone. He’s doing the cone drill, but you got to try to make it tough for him, and we did a good job tonight.”
Dallas has won eight of their last 10 games, and Finney-Smith believes that Dallas can beat anybody if they play as they did against Brooklyn on Thursday night.
“Sometimes when we play teams not as good as Brooklyn, we don’t come out with that fight,” he said. “If we come out how we did tonight, we can beat anybody.”
Dallas, who again was without Kristaps Porzingis(right knee), seem to be putting it together at the right time, but they must not play down to the opposition, and that would be put to the test when they battle the Cavs(21-45) at home in the second half of a back-to-back on Friday night.
The Brooklyn Nets have another piece to the puzzle. According to The Athletic’s Sham Charania, Blake Griffin has cleared free agency waivers, and the six-time NBA All-Star is expected to sign with the Nets.
The 31-year-old Griffin and the Detroit Pistons agreed to a buyout on Friday.
During three-plus years with the Pistons (2018-21), Griffin posted averages of 20.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 33.3 minutes over 138 games (all starts). He earned All-NBA Third Team honors and his sixth NBA All-Star selection while averaging a career-best 24.5 points and leading the Pistons to the NBA Playoffs in 2018-19.
In 20 games with the Pistons this season, Griffin averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game.
It should be interesting to see what role Griffin will have in Brooklyn, but the assumption is he will probably be a starter. With what they have in terms of Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant, Griffin will get a lot of good looks. If he can stay healthy, Griffin can definitely help the Nets. He gives them depth and another guy who can score the ball.
Drafted first overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Clippers, Griffin holds averages of 21.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 34.7 minutes in 642 career NBA games.
The San Antonio Spurs(17-13) battled hard against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night and got an amazing buzzer-beater from Dejounte Murray(19 points) to send the game into overtime. However, they were outscored by 11 points in the extra period and would fall to the Nets(23-13) in OT 124-113 at AT&T Center.
After a James Harden three, who had a triple-double with 30 points, 15 assists, and 14 rebounds, the Spurs trailed 102–90 with just under five minutes left in the fourth quarter, but the Spurs would go on an 18-6 run to finish the fourth, including Murray’s buzzer-beater. After the game, Popovich discussed Murray’s big-time shot.
“He knew he had to get it to the rim,” Popovich said. “He made a good choice getting rid of that darn thing, but he’s been playing great all year long and just getting smarter and smarter; feeling more and more confident at the position, so it’s all good.”
Despite the loss, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was happy with his team’s fight against Brooklyn.
‘I thought they were great,” Popovich said after the game about his team. “They really worked hard. They dug down deep all year. They never gave in, and tonight was another good example.”
Spurs G Lonnie Walker IV, who scored 19 points against the Nets, agreed with Popovich’s assessment.
“We laid it all out there,” he said. “Our effort defensively really picked up our effort offensively on how we’re scoring and running on transition and everything. So, I’m really happy on how we played as a team. We did it the right way. Unfortunately, we didn’t come up with the win.”
The Spurs were shorthanded on Monday as they were without Keldon Johnson, Rudy Gay, and Derrick White due to health and safety protocols, making their performance against the high-powered Nets even more impressive. Now, they have to set their sights on New York’s other team, the Knicks, as they come into San Antonio to battle the Spurs on Tuesday night.
Kyrie Irving added 27 points for the Nets, while DeMar DeRozan had a team-high 22 points for San Antonio.
Spurs announced before their game against Brooklyn that they would be letting fans in the AT&T Center starting on March 12 against the Magic. According to the press release, the Spurs will allow 3200 fans in the building.
Mavericks F/C Kristaps Porzingis(questionable) could return on Saturday night as the team travels to Brooklyn to battle the Nets. Porzingis missed the past three games with lower back tightness, including the team’s 111-97 road loss to the 76ers on Thursday night.
During his time away from the floor, rumors surfaced that the Mavericks were quietly shopping the fifth-year player. However, the Mavericks organization quickly said that was not the case.
On Friday, the 25-year-old Porzingis, who the Mavericks acquired from the Knicks in 2019, addressed the trade rumors.
“As I said, it kind of like came out. It is what it is,” Porzingis said. “I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. I shouldn’t be too worried about it. It could only distract me at the end of the day. I try to focus on being in the moment, being here day-to-day, putting in the work with my teammates, and getting better as a basketball player at the end. That’s it.
“As I said, there’s not much I can do at this point. Just focused on playing, playing well, and getting wins.”
Porzingis missed time to start the season after coming off knee surgery. In 17 games, he’s averaging 20.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 1.6 BPG. He’s under contract until 2023(player option 23-24 season) after signing—a five-year, $158 max contract with the Mavericks back in 2019.
Dallas’ two best players are Luka Doncic and Porzingis, and both are young. Porzingis’ injury history is concerning, but his skill set is tremendous, and both he and Doncic(21 years old) are young, so it’s probably in the team’s best interest to let these two grow together.
Last week, Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving announced that he would not be talking to the media this year.
Irving released a statement explaining why he’s not talking to the media on December 4, which said the following:
“COVID-19 has impacted us all in many ways, so I pray for the safety and health of our communities domestically and abroad. I am truly excited for the season to start and I am also praying that everyone remains safe and healthy throughout this journey.
Instead of speaking to the media today, I am issuing this statement to ensure that my message is conveyed properly.
I am committed to show up to work everyday, ready to have fun, compete, perform, and win championships alongside my teammates and colleagues in the Nets organization. My goal this season is to let my work on and off the court speak for itself.
Life hit differently this year and it requires us, it requires me, to move differently. So, this is the beginning of that change.”
On Thursday, Irving and the Nets were fined $25,000 apiece by the NBA for his refusal to speak. According to the NBA, Irving violated league rules governing media interview access.
Irving responded to the fine via Instagram on Friday:
“I pray we utilize the ‘fine money’ for the marginalized communities in need, especially seeing where our world is presently,” he said “[I am] here for Peace, Love, and Greatness. So stop distracting me and my team, and appreciate the Art. We move different over here.
“I do not talk to Pawns. My attention is worth more.”
Irving’s former teammate with the Cavaliers, Kevin Love, gave his thoughts on the situation and said the following:
“I think that calling anybody a pawn is a sure sign of disrespect, and I understand where Kyrie is coming from in trying to better a number of people’s lives, but I’m just not a divisive person,”
Listen to Love’s complete thoughts below:
Coming into the NBA bubble in Orlando, the Washington Wizards(24-42) had an outside shot of making the playoffs, but after losing to the Brooklyn Nets(31-35) 118-110 on Sunday, it’s going to be an uphill climb for the Wizards.
Brooklyn’s Caris LeVert led the way with 34 points, Joe Harris added 27 points, and Jarrett Allen added 22 points and 15 rebounds. Washington’s Thomas Bryant finished with a season and team-high 30 points and 13 rebounds, including a career-high four three-pointers.
This was a must-win game for the Wizards, and at this point, Washington is seven games behind the Nets for the eighth and final spot in the playoffs. With six games left, the Wizards must get within four games of the eighth-seed to force a play-in game.
“We needed this game badly,” Rui Hachimura said after the game. “And all of us are frustrated with the loss, but we have another game coming up tomorrow. So, we just have to switch gears.”
Hachumura struggled on Sunday and finished with 9 points. Brooklyn swarmed the rookie any time he touched the ball. Hachimura finished the game with only six field goal attempts.
“They made life difficult for me,” Hachumura said. “At times, they swarmed me with double-teams, triple-teams. I feel like there weren’t many opportunities for me to shoot the ball today.”
The first two seeding games against the Suns and Nets were very winnable games for Washington. The next two games will be tough, as they have Indiana on Monday and Philadelphia on Wednesday. After another tough loss, it should be interesting to see what Wizards team shows up on Monday. Don’t be surprised if this team has a big-time effort against the Pacers.
Troy Brown Jr. nearly had a triple-double on Sunday. Brown finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists.
Thomas Bryant registered season highs in points (30), rebounds (13) and made field goals (12) Sunday against Brooklyn. Bryant’s 30 points were one shy of tying a career-high. Bryant made a career-high four 3-pointers, all of which came in the first half.
“I just took what the defense gave me,” Bryant said after the game. “My teammates had the confidence in me to knock down those shots. They kept telling me to take them, and I took them.”
According to ESPN, Dwight Howard and the Brooklyn Nets are negotiating a buyout that will allow Howard to become a free agent.
The 32-year-old Howard was traded to the Nets on Wednesday for Timofey Mozgov and two second-round picks.
Howard averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game for the Hornets last season.
Should be interesting to see what the market might be for Howard, who according to reports, was not very liked by his teammates in Charlotte.
Dwight Howard and Brooklyn will negotiate a buyout to enter free-agency, league sources tell ESPN.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 21, 2018