Kevin Durant had 29 factors and 10 rebounds because the Brooklyn Nets withstood Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 34-point efficiency to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 115-107 within the opening recreation of their second-round collection.
The Nets received the battle between two of the NBA’s most potent offences on Saturday evening regardless of dropping James Harden to a nagging hamstring damage within the first minute of the sport.
Harden was compelled out simply 43 seconds in, pulling up and grabbing the again of his leg after a drive. He didn’t return.
Kyrie Irving had 25 factors and eight assists, Blake Griffin tallied 18 factors and a team-high 14 rebounds for the Nets, who beat the Bucks in six video games in 2003, the final time they met within the playoffs.
Journeyman Mike James got here off the bench to attain 12 factors within the win.
“You never want to lose a guy like James but we have been in this situation before,” mentioned Griffin. “I belief these guys.
“Everyone had to step up. We played like that most of the season. We got guys that step up and Kevin and Kyrie do what they do.”
Game two is on Monday in Brooklyn.
“Our defence was good, we didn’t give them too many wide-open looks. We cleaned up some things as the game went on,” mentioned head coach Steve Nash.
Antetokounmpo, the two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, performed 35 minutes, taking pictures 16 of 24 from the ground and grabbing 11 rebounds for the underdog Bucks, who led the league by averaging 120.1 factors per recreation within the common season.
“It was a little bit of everything. Shots didn’t go in. We did not compete as hard as we wanted to defensively,” mentioned Antetokounmpo.
Both golf equipment got here into the second spherical of the postseason after cruising by way of their opening collection.
Milwaukee accomplished a four-game sweep of Miami final Saturday to succeed in the second spherical for the third straight season.
Brooklyn, who averaged 118.6 factors throughout the common season, wanted 5 video games to get previous the Boston Celtics thanks largely to the trio of Durant, Irving, and Harden.
Due to accidents and relaxation, the trio had performed simply eight video games collectively throughout the common season.
Brooklyn had hoped to have the massive three wholesome for the playoffs however have hit one other damage snag with Harden taking place in entrance of a crowd of 15,700 at Barclays Center area.
The Nets introduced later within the first half that Harden would bear an MRI to find out the extent of the damage.
“It has happened to us all year that someone goes down,” mentioned Nash. “We made a couple of performs. We hustled. It was nice to see guys who hadn’t been within the rotation step up.
The 31-year-old Harden has had hamstring issues earlier than, lacking 21 video games in April and May. The Nets are 20-17 with out Harden and 29-7 with him within the lineup.
Harden averaged 27.8 factors and 10.6 assists within the first spherical in opposition to the Celtics.
Antetokounmpo scored 10 factors within the first quarter because the Bucks led 32-30 on the finish of 12 minutes. Antetokounmpo mentioned it didn’t change issues when Harden bought damage.
“We still had our game plan. We still had a game plan for Kyrie and KD and Joe (Harris),” he mentioned.
In the second quarter the groups exchanged runs as Brooklyn went on a 20-8 blitz to take a 59-48 lead however the Bucks clawed their manner again with a 13-4 run of their very own to get inside two, 63-61, on the half.
The Nets went on one other 12-4 run to finish the third to take a commanding 98-84 lead into the fourth quarter.