KD, Giannis Put on a Show as Bucks Outlast Nets in Thriller


Final: 05/02/2021

L 114 117

A potential Eastern Conference finals preview lived up to the billing, and it came down to the wire.

Kevin Durant had a look at a potential game-tying shot, but the Bucks held on for the 117-114 victory in Milwaukee. Giannis Antetokounmpo put on a show as he recorded 49 points, just three points shy of his career-high. 

Brooklyn trailed the Bucks by as many as seven during the game, and trailed by six with just over two minutes remaining. The Nets managed to secure stops while Kyrie Irving made a timely three-pointer to cut the deficit to three. 

The Nets locked the Bucks down on their final possession as Durant secured the rebound off Khris Middleton’s miss from distance, and KD got the look off the timeout with four seconds remaining. Brooklyn missed three opportunities from three to tie the game, but the big shot did not come — Kyrie missed one and KD missed two. 

The Nets were the first team to push the pace as they got out to as large as a 14-point lead in the first quarter. Brooklyn had a balanced offensive effort while DeAndre Jordan helped set the pace with seven early points.

Milwaukee punched back in the second quarter, though, as the Bucks out-scored Brooklyn 34-22 in the quarter and regained the lead. It was a grind-it-out battle from then on out, with Giannis and Kevin Durant taking center stage.

The Nets allowed Giannis to get his jump shot up throughout the evening, particularly on the perimeter, and the Greek Freak made them pay. The Bucks used the three-point shot to hurt the Nets as they made 15-of-37 shots from distance on the evening.

The Bucks largely set the tempo through the latter three quarters, especially with an 11-0 run early in the fourth, as the Nets were held to 42.7% shooting and went cold for extended stretches. Durant was (clearly) Brooklyn’s main offensive threat as he dropped 42 points on 7-of-13 shooting from deep. 

Middleton added 26 points for the Bucks in a game that had a playoff feel to it. The only thing missing, though, was a healthy James Harden on the floor.

NBA fans don’t have to wait much longer to see these teams meet as they have a rematch set for Tuesday night. This matchup may be an Eastern Conference finals preview, but the Nets have one more shot at earning the tiebreaker over the Bucks — and getting back to No. 1 — very soon. 

Kevin Durant


The stats: 42 PTS, 16-33 FG, 7-13 3PT, 3-4 FT, 10 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 5 TO, 40 MIN

What more is there to say?

Kevin Durant was excellent for Brooklyn as he went toe-to-toe with the hot scoring of Giannis Antetokounmpo. He was feeling his shot from deep and got the midrange working at any given time.

KD was sloppy with the ball early as he turned the ball over five times, but he cleaned that up in the second half as he notched a double-double. While Kyrie struggled from the field, KD came up big to put a show — a game-tying bucket would have been great, but he was the only reason they were in position for a potential victory. 

Kyrie Irving


The stats: 20 PTS, 8-21 FG, 2-8 3PT, 2-2 FT, 7 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL, 4 TO, 37 MIN

A big shot or two extra from Kyrie, and this result could have been quite different. 

Kyrie scored six early points in the first quarter but struggled from the field throughout the evening. He was closely guarded by Jrue Holiday and nearly had back-to-back threes to tie the game late, but came up short on the second.

Kyrie did make an impact on defense, particularly in the closing minutes, but the Nets missed that one-two punch that they have often gotten offensively from KD and Kyrie. He was not the only Net who went cold, but the Nets will be in better position to change the result on Tuesday if Kyrie scores at a slightly better clip and takes care of the ball. 

Landry Shamet


The stats: 17 PTS, 5-9 FG, 4-7 3PT, 3-3 FT, 3 REB, 2 AST, 2 TO, 28 MIN

Landry Shamet was a key and invaluable boost off the bench.

With other shooters like Joe Harris struggling to find the bottom of the Net on Sunday, Shamet made up a good chunk of the production off the bench. He combined with Blake Griffin to score the only bench points outside Alize Johnson’s quick two early on.

The Nets needed an additional three-point threat outside KD, and they got that in Shamet. He continues to get hot and the right time and fills his role to a T off the bench.

Blake Griffin


The stats: 11 PTS, 4-8 FG, 2-4 3PT, 1-1 FT, 7 REB, 1 AST, 18 MIN

Blake was impactful in his limited time — the Nets just needed more of it.

Blake played six early minutes, got into foul trouble and then did not see the court again until playing the full fourth quarter. Blake showed good hops and took a charge — his specialty — against Giannis in a tough defensive assignment.

Blake also helped grab some offensive boards for the Nets, where they out-paced the Bucks 14-8. It was unclear why Blake sat for so long, but the Nets benefited from his hustle and size during his limited minutes. 

DeAndre Jordan


The stats: 10 PTS, 4-7 FG, 2-3 FT, 11 REB, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 24 MIN

DeAndre played a large part in setting the tone early.

DJ scored seven of the Nets’ first 11 points as they built as large as a 14-point lead early. He started off playing good defense against Giannis as he limited him early.

DeAndre pitched in on the offensive boards while putting up a double-double, showing he can be effective as a starter in a potential Nets-Bucks series. He cooled off from the field later on, but DJ gave the Nets a different dimension that caught the Bucks off guard early.