The Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks series was immediately discussed as a potential seven-game set between two heavyweights. Then James Harden got injured, and it looked like the Bucks had a chance.
Well, the Nets took Game 1 and then slaughtered the Bucks by 39 in Game 2. Then came Game 3 in Milwaukee, and it was good, old-fashioned basketball, something the NBA has been missing for some time.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton did the heavy lifting for the Bucks as the duo combined for 68 of the team’s 86 points. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving led the Nets– as always– as their star duo racked up 52 of the Nets’ 83 points.
Yes, the final score was 86-83, and it felt like an old-fashioned, 1990s basketball game where both teams struggled to score, and the game would be won on the defensive end. But, surprisingly enough, the Bucks dropped 30 points in the 1st quarter and had a 19-point lead before the Nets stormed back and crept within single digits.
In today’s NBA, 86 points is usually a score after three quarters. Even more, with the Nets’ extremely talented offense, it is safe to say nobody saw this coming. Kyrie Irving described the game as good as anybody.
Kyrie Irving on tonight's Nets/Bucks game: "That’s a good old fashioned playoff game right there."
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) June 11, 2021
PJ Tucker absolutely frustrated Kevin Durant, who somehow still managed to drop 30 points, and the Nets couldn’t slow down the duo of Giannis and Middleton.
It was marvelous, it was a defensive battle until the end, reminiscing of the days when NBA teams rarely broke 100 points. Seriously, who would’ve thought the Bucks-Nets series would have turned into a defensive masterpiece after a 39-point drubbing in Game 2? Steve Nash certainly didn’t envision that.
“It’s interesting that we lost a game because of our offense,” Nets coach Steve Nash said, via Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “It was a tough, tough playoff game. Someone was going to win ugly, and it was them tonight.”
Absolutely nobody at all thought Game 3 would turn out like that, but it was fun to watch and reminded us of the days before teams easily crossed the 100-point median. All of a sudden, the Bucks are right back in the thick of the series and will need more huge performances from Middleton and Giannis if they want to find a way to tie the series up on Sunday before they head back to Brooklyn.
If Game 3 was any indication, Game 4 should be another grind-it-out, hard-fought victory as both teams push to make the Eastern Conference Finals.