MILWAUKEE — The Nets knew the Bucks had been going to return out swinging. It didn’t assist, as Brooklyn acquired floored early and by no means recovering.
Taking part in a determined group going through elimination, the Nets acquired off to one more maddeningly sluggish begin. And it price them dearly in a 104-89 Jap Convention semifinal Sport 6 loss earlier than a sellout crowd of 16,310 at Fiserv Discussion board.
Kevin Durant, who’d been superhuman in carrying the Nets to a Sport 5 comeback two days earlier, was merely good Thursday. He had 32 factors and 11 rebounds. James Harden appeared extra like himself in his second recreation again from a hamstring damage, with 21 factors, eight boards and 5 assists. However it wasn’t sufficient.
Brooklyn went large with Jeff Inexperienced at energy ahead subsequent to Durant, Joe Harris sliding right down to off-guard and Bruce Brown going to the bench. However the Nets nonetheless acquired crushed on the boards, run off the court docket 26-4 in fast-break factors, and left in an 11-2 early gap that reached 21 and proved an excessive amount of to beat.
“The most important factor is simply how we begin,” Landry Shamet had warned beforehand. “Even going again to the opposite evening in Sport 5, sluggish begin, struggled to seek out our rhythm early, didn’t play with the proper physicality. Issues actually that we are able to management that we did actually, rather well in Sport 1 and Sport 2, soar out to an enormous lead.
“These are the largest issues that we’re lacking within the two street losses. It’s our power, how we begin the sport. That’s all we are able to management, in order that’s our plan going ahead.”
Like a fantastic Brooklyn-born thinker as soon as stated, everyone has a plan till they get punched within the mouth. And the Nets acquired clocked by a hook Mike Tyson would’ve been happy with.
Brooklyn stayed on-brand with its typical sluggish begin. The Nets had been 1 of 6 with 4 turnovers — three of them by an out-of-sync Harden in underneath 4 minutes — to fall behind 11-2 proper out of the gate. The remainder of the evening was a chase in useless, getting inside 5 within the fourth solely to concede a decisive 14-0 run.
In contrast to Sport 5, the Bucks examined Harden’s hamstrung protection. They performed with off-ball motion and repeatedly hunted out Harden to place him in actions. And with Harris at off-guard, the backcourt of Khris Middleton (game-high 38 factors) and Jrue Vacation (21 factors) had their approach.
The deficit reached 18-5 on a Vacation 3-pointer, and the Nets by no means acquired nearer than 4 the remainder of the evening.
“We’ve had sluggish begins within the sequence. We had sluggish begins so much this yr. We additionally I feel are adapting to James, him being again within the lineup however not utterly being himself,” coach Steve Nash stated earlier than the sport. “We need to push to have a fantastic begin and are available out of the gates enjoying sharp and sensible basketball and being aggressive.”
As an alternative they got here out sloppy, enjoying poor basketball. Now the Nets discover themselves having to outlive a Sport 7 Saturday at Barclays Heart (8:30 p.m., TNT).
Milwaukee turned again each Nets rally. Down 18-5, a pair of Durant buckets and a Blake Griffin 3 minimize the deficit to 6.
The Nets had been inside seven when Harris dedicated an ill-advised foul that gave Middleton a four-point play to make it 32-21.
Down 44-31, the Nets reeled off 9 unanswered factors to climb inside 4.
It was nonetheless solely 53-48 after a pair of Griffin free throws, however a 9-0 run — this time by the Bucks — to span the half left Brooklyn down by 14.
The deficit reached 82-67 on Middleton’s free throws simply 40 seconds into the fourth quarter. However Brooklyn reeled off 10 unanswered factors. Durant adopted a pull-up 3-point and operating layup by discovering Harris for a layup.
Harris — who had been simply 4 of 23 from deep because the begin of Sport 3 — lastly hit a pull-up 3-pointer to chop the deficit to 82-77. However the Bucks’ Large 3 of Giannis Antetokounmpo (30 factors, 17 boards), Vacation and Middleton scored each level in a 14-0 run to place it away.