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Belief: Nets prove they’re still good enough to beat Bucks without James Harden

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Belief: Nets prove they’re still good enough to beat Bucks without James Harden

, USA TODAY
Printed 12: 19 a.m. ET June 6, 2021 | Up to date 12: 37 a.m. ET June 6, 2021

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SportsPulse: Mackenzie Salmon and Jeff Zillgitt spoil down the second round of the Eastern Convention playoffs, highlighted by a gargantuan sequence between the Bucks and Nets.

USA TODAY

The Brooklyn Nets had the worst doubtless originate to Sport 1 against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Nets had a play referred to as. Kevin Durant searched for James Harden, and Harden wasn’t where he was as soon as supposed to be.

“I looked at him,” Durant said. “He was as soon as grimacing.”

Harden left the sport 43 seconds into the first quarter with a accurate hamstring scenario, and TNT reported he left the enviornment for an MRI.

On condition that circumstance, the Nets had the very supreme perform to Sport 1, albeit with fright over Harden’s hamstring. Minus Harden, the Nets defeated the Bucks 115-107 within the opener of their Eastern Convention semifinal sequence.

“I was as soon as in actuality impressed with our perseverance in what might maybe maybe also had been an emotional toll on us,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “To catch out of the first round and prepare for just a few days for this sequence and like our lead playmaker toddle down within the first minute, that will maybe maybe also derail a team. But our guys had been by approach to this and they hung in there and their toughness was as soon as on show veil.”

— NBA (@NBA) June 6, 2021

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving did what they perform: Durant had 29 functions and 10 rebounds, and Irving scored 25 functions and delivered eight assists.

Others contributed important performances in Harden’s absence. Blake Griffin had his most efficient game since becoming a member of the Nets with 18 functions, 14 rebounds, three assists and two steals, and Mike James, who ravishing two months ago performed for Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow, had 12 functions, seven rebounds and three assists.

STRIKING FIRST: Nets top Bucks in sequence opener after Harden leaves

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“We just like the functionality of rising to the occasion,” Irving said. “We’re a in actuality mature basketball membership which capability of we play selflessly and belief every diversified. Any scenario within the sport, I in actuality feel cherish we now just like the skill, we now like preparation, we now just like the instructing personnel to procure a method toddle to toddle out and stop. After that, its ravishing mainly up to us to proceed to play the accurate method.”

It turned out to be an outstanding victory, and the final margin doesn’t stammer the story. Brooklyn turned an 86-80 lead slack within the third quarter into a 112-95 lead with 5: 02 left within the fourth.

Brooklyn also sent a message to Milwaukee: Without Harden, the Nets are still good enough to beat the Bucks. That’s a psychological hurdle Milwaukee wants to overcome.

The top result shouldn’t come as a shock. The Nets performed quite a lot of games without Harden and obtained this season. With Irving, Durant and Harden out and in of the lineup for diversified causes — they performed ravishing eight games together for the duration of the fashioned season — Brooklyn ragged a franchise-file 38 diversified beginning lineups this season and never-ending diversified in-game combinations.

“We’ve had a lot thrown at us this yr, so we had been in a method smartly-expert for this tournament,” Nash said. “But you never need to glimpse somebody cherish James who’s such a truly mighty player, such an impossible player and cares so mighty. I’m heartbroken for him.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if he’s taking part within the next game. I don’t know if he’s out. I haven’t got any thought. This man was as soon as so ready and furious to play. You respect the preparation he puts in, you know the style mighty he cares in regards to the sport, how mighty he cares in regards to the team. You never need to glimpse that — somebody who affords everything they’ve toward this.”

Brooklyn’s efficiency does no longer alleviate the lisp it has interesting forward referring to Harden’s availability. The Nets might maybe maybe procure a method to exhaust this sequence and even the next one. But it’s that mighty more interesting without him.

“It sucks. It ravishing sucks,” Durant said. “I’d like him to be available. I understand how mighty he cares. I understand how mighty he desires to be in this second. Desire him a rapidly recovery. We’re going to retain him eager as mighty as doubtless. But it’s ravishing a perilous spoil.”

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Jim Owczarki of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic spoil down how the Bucks match up with the Nets within the second round of the NBA playoffs.

USA TODAY

The Bucks shot ravishing 20% on 3-pointers (6-for-30), and Durant said, “I do know they’re no longer going to omit that many photographs.”

Nash didn’t know the severity of Harden’s wound, nonetheless certified athletic coach Jeff Stotts, who tracks player accidents in a database, tweeted, “He was as soon as going to be at an elevated threat for recurrence for the remainder of the season, in particular since he already aggravated the wound role for the duration of his preliminary rehab. Records reveals the everyday time misplaced will increase with every subsequent rigidity.”

That might maybe maybe be perilous files for the Nets and Harden, who missed 21 of the final 24 fashioned-season games with a strained hamstring.

“We’ll like to glimpse how we toddle here and searching at the movie and taking a sight at our rotations and our alternate recommendations,” Nash said, “and glimpse what buttons we are going to procure a method to push and persevere.”

Apply Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.

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Belief: Nets prove they’re still good enough to beat Bucks without James Harden

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