Harden’s Triple-Double Leads Nets in Game 5 Win; Bucks Await

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Final: 06/01/2021

W 123 – 109

The fourth quarter came with an exclamation point for Brooklyn. A 23-9 Nets run was the statement-maker as Boston’s hopes slowly quelled. 

The effort led to the Nets officially clinching an Eastern Conference semifinals berth after defeating Boston 123-109 in Game 5 on Tuesday. Brooklyn will next face the No. 3 seed Milwaukee Bucks, who made quick work of the Heat in the first round. 

Brooklyn built as large as a 22-point lead in the fourth quarter in what was a game the Nets largely maintained a single-digit lead. Jayson Tatum scored 32 points to pace the Celtics as the Nets had difficulty stringing together stops.

Though the Nets held the Celtics to 43.5% shooting and 11-of-40 from three, it was Boston’s hustle that kept them in this one. The Celtics tallied a 13-7 edge in offensive boards while five players registered double figures in scoring. 

James Harden ultimately stole the show as he recorded the first 30-point triple-double in Nets playoff history. The Beard was stellar in running the offense as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant combined for 49 points.

The playoff series victory is Brooklyn’s first since 2014, when the Nets defeated the Raptors in seven games. This series was relatively free of nail-biters, but some may be on the way against a Milwaukee team that seems to be hitting on all cylinders. 

The Nets will particularly have their work made out for them on the interior while trying to limit Giannis Antetokounmpo. Brooklyn went 1-2 against Milwaukee in the regular season, which saw the Nets lose back-to-back games late in the season.

Of course, the postseason is a different animal. The Nets and Bucks meet for their first game of the series on Saturday. Four wins down, 12 to go in the hunt for an NBA championship. The Nets will be tested right away, but they look as strong offensively as ever this season — with room for improvement overall.

Get ready for a fun and competitive series. 

James Harden

A+

The stats: 34 PTS, 10-17 FG, 4-7 3PT, 10-11 FT, 10 REB, 10 AST, 2 STL, 2 BLK, 1 TO, 39 MIN

James Harden continues to do what he does best: Break Nets records.

Harden became just the second player in Nets history to record a triple-double in the postseason, joining Jason Kidd. Beyond that, he’s the first in Nets playoff history to score 30+ points with his triple-double.

Harden took the forefront of the Big Three this time around as he set the pace for the offense and was aggressive himself. A big-time performance from Harden in a closeout game, with more likely to come.

Kyrie Irving

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The stats: 25 PTS, 9-14 FG, 3-7 3PT, 4-6 FT, 3 REB, 3 AST, 1 BLK, 38 MIN

Kyrie followed up his big performance in Game 4 with another strong offensive showing.

Kyrie was hot from the start and played a big part in the Nets’ 37-point fourth quarter. He stepped up as KD had a slow start.

With all the questions heading into the series about the Nets’ chemistry, the Big Three seem to be hitting their stride alongside one another. They have health on their side, and Kyrie has been more aggressive in each game — and should be happy to have the Celtics behind him. 

Kevin Durant

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The stats: 24 PTS, 8-16 FG, 4-6 3PT, 4-4 FT, 4 REB, 3 AST, 3 BLK, 2 TO, 37 MIN

It took a while for KD’s offense to come alive, but he made his impact on defense in the meantime.

KD’s blocks were as impressive as his shots as he helped force stops for Brooklyn. The Nets needed every stop they could get as they could not seem to put the Celtics away through the first three quarters.

It was not KD’s best offensive performance of the series, but he still managed to put up 24 points in a flash. He is stepping up on both ends, and the Nets will need more of that in the next round. 

Bruce Brown

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The stats: 10 PTS, 4-8 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-2 FT, 5 REB, 3 AST, 4 STL, 2 TO, 24 MIN

Bruce Brown has been the Nets’ bench hero so far in the postseason.

Bruce has come up big on both ends, this time getting his touches at the rim to go down. More notably, he forced four (!) steals to help Brooklyn build some momentum.

One of those steals led to Bruce setting up Kyrie for a three-pointer. It was a thing of beauty, and just what the Nets need from Bruce coming off the bench. 

Joe Harris

B+

The stats: 10 PTS, 3-8 FG, 2-5 3PT, 2-2 FT, 3 REB, 6 AST, 1 TO, 35 MIN

Joe Harris is becoming quite the passer extraordinaire. 

Joe’s unselfishness has led to some great highlights as he draws attention in the lane and dishes out to a cutting teammate. First, it was Harden on Sunday, and then Blake on Tuesday. 

Joe may not be getting his shot attempts, but he is doing his best to create elsewhere. That creativity keeps defenses on their toes, and his three-point barrages are still to come.

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