Hello, Game 7: Bucks Lead Nets Wire-to-Wire to Force Pivotal Contest

D+

Final: 06/17/2021

L 89 104

Ten days after taking a 2-0 series lead, the Nets find themselves with a Game 7 on their hands. 

The Bucks put the Nets away to earn a 104-89 wire-to-wire Game 6 win and force a winner-take-all Game 7 on Saturday. Milwaukee led by as many as 21 points as the Nets failed to break through.

During a mic’d up portion of the broadcast, Steve Nash was heard telling the team to not wait until the third quarter to play. Well, they never really showed up at all. 

Yes, Brooklyn is dealing with injuries. But the Nets were simply out-played across the board, from effort to energy and skill. The Bucks came to play with Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday getting the job done.

Brooklyn had its opportunities and cut the deficit to as little as five after a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter, but they always allowed the Bucks to respond with a run of their own. Milwaukee went on a 14-0 run to ice the game, forcing Steve Nash to empty the bench early and give his starters some rest.

It was a game that mirrored the previous ones in terms of its start. The Nets again dug themselves in an early hole thanks to the Bucks’ focus on the paint, where they attacked often. 

Milwaukee finished the night with just a 46-44 advantage in the paint, but it was on the fastbreak where they truly did damage. The Bucks out-scored the Nets 26-4 in fastbreak points as Brooklyn turned it over 16 times and Milwaukee out-rebounded 55-46. The Bucks also registered 14 more free throw attempts, out-scoring the Nets 23-8 at the line. 

Though the Nets were able to score 20 points off Milwaukee’s 13 turnovers, something that hurt them was their end-of-quarter execution. Brooklyn had positive moments in both the second and third quarters but allowed Middleton to score six straight to end each frame to build the Bucks’ lead back up to double digits.

The third quarter was full of opportunities for the Nets to break through with the Bucks missing good looks, but Brooklyn never found their groove. Kevin Durant followed up his big-time Game 5 with 32 points in Game 6, but struggled from deep. As a team, the Nets shot 44.4% from the field and 9-of-30 from three-point range.

One thing is for sure: Brooklyn’s supporting cast has to step up. Durant is currently only the reliable option on the roster entering Game 7. Though James Harden is looking more like himself, he is still limited, and Jeff Green followed up his 27-point performance in Game 5 with five points in Game 6.

Brooklyn’s season now comes down to one game, and the Nets at least have home-court advantage on their side. They are undefeated at home throughout the playoffs this season and will be put to the test once again.

Injuries have changed the tone of this series, but the Nets will be tasked to dig deep one more time to earn a trip to the Eastern Conference finals. It should be an entertaining game, and the Nets know what’s on the line.

Game on. 

Kevin Durant

B

The stats: 32 PTS, 15-30 FG, 2-8 3PT, 0-2 FT, 11 REB, 3 AST, 7 TO, 40 MIN

KD said it best after the game: He can’t win a game by himself. Still, he was not at his best in Game 6. 

Maybe Game 5 set the bar too high, but KD was not stuck on automatic like he was in Milwaukee. He struggled especially from three-point range, and he had a tough time taking care of the ball.

KD helped contribute to some runs to keep Brooklyn in the mix, but he was never able to break the barrier. Durant should not be expected to do that every game, but at this point, it looks like it’s the only way the Nets can win.

James Harden

B+

The stats: 16 PTS, 5-9 FG, 3-6 3PT, 3-5 FT, 5 REB, 7 AST, 4 STL, 4 TO, 40 MIN

James was more effective than he was in Game 6, but he’s still clearly limited in what he can do on the court.

Harden was moving better, but he was unable to push the ball up the floor on any potential fastbreaks. Despite his limitations, Harden was the Nets’ best three-point shooter on the night, giving them some life in the first half. 

Harden also has been impressive defensively despite practically playing with just one leg. It was great to see Harden moving better and finding an offensive rhythm, but the Nets still need help elsewhere. 

Blake Griffin

C+

The stats: 12 PTS, 4-8 FG, 1-4 3PT, 6 REB, 2 STL, 31 MIN

Blake was Brooklyn’s lone other double-digit scorer outside Durant and Harden, and he only had one total point in the second half.

Brooklyn tried to get Blake involved more early, but he could not find his shot from distance. He again had a tough defensive assignment in protecting the paint, where Brooklyn got hammered early.

The Nets needed someone else to step up, and Blake could not quite fit the bill. They need the same version of Blake who showed up in the first two games of the series. 

Joe Harris

D

The stats: 9 PTS, 4-9 FG, 1-4 3PT, 4 REB, 36 MIN

Joe Harris is flat-out struggling out there.

Joe did go on a personal 5-0 run in the fourth quarter to help pull the Nets within five of the Bucks, but Brooklyn needed way more than that. Besides his poor offensive output, Joe was also struggling off-ball with poor defense and getting stuck behind screens. 

One Joe three-pointer has the power to swing a game, and he finally got one in the fourth quarter — but the damage was too much to overcome. The Nets really, really, need Joe to show up in Game 7 — there’s no other way to put it. 

Jeff Green

C-

The stats: 5 PTS, 2-9 FG, 1-4 3PT, 6 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO, 36 MIN

Jeff had quite the turnaround after his 27-point performance in Game 5, and not the good kind.

Jeff got the start this game but could not find the offensive rhythm he tapped into two nights ago. His three-point shots were off and he struggled to get anything down inside.

Maybe Jeff feels more comfortable coming off the bench, but it just was not his night. He at least provided a decent rebounding presence for Brooklyn, but the Nets needed a bit more from anyone — and Uncle Jeff could not answer the call again. 

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