Under normal circumstances, some children and their families may have left the Barclays Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a story for ages.
For starters, there was no school for leave as three former MVPs – Giannis Entetoconampo, James Harden and Kevin Durant – went toe-to-toe in a high-level performance, with the Brooklyn Mets editing the Milwaukee Bucks 125-123 Does. .
Even in an epidemic-forced fan-less environment, the final five-minute regulation between these two Eastern Conference powerhouses saw home fast-forwarding ideas of potential playoff matchups.
Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez hit a 3-pointer with 5:01 to tie the game at 110, had eight lead changes and 10 go-ahead field goals. According to ESPN Stats and Information Research, in the final five minutes of the game, which ended with regulation including the playoffs in the last 25 years, those 10 go-ahead field goals tied the most.
Antetokounmpo nearly hit a triple-double with 34 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists to go with two points.
Take a closer look at how the final stretch is played:
4:07 to play: Pat Connaughton hits a 3-pointer, the Bucks lead 113-112
3:37 to play: Harden shot, Nets 114-113 lead
According to data from the Elias Sports Bureau, Harden and Durant combined to score 64 points on Monday to become the first teammates to score 30 or more points in each of their first two matches.
3:17 to play: Junior makes a Holiday layup, leading the Bucks 115-114
1:55 to play: Harden makes a floating jumper, leads the net 118-117
Hardik scored easily in the opening half, but also had six turnovers, his half-century this season. He cleaned up in the second half, however, with zero turnovers and some significant playmaking near the end, including this floater, driving an all-defensive second team center on Lopez’s long arms. Through two games with the Nets, Harden scored or assisted on 129 points, the most in a player’s first two matches with a team in NBA history.
1:44 to play: Khris Middleton makes a driving layup, leading the Bucks 119-118
1:17 to play: Entetoconampo tip-in snap 119-119 tie, Bucks lead 121-119
The Nets bucket in the opening round was followed by a display of emotions between Durant and Antetokonampo, then slamming him to the ground while running in the second game. Therefore, it was only right for the Greek freak to attack the basket, to attack aggressively with a two-handed putback jam from a missed leap on a leave.
1:05 to play: Joe Harris makes a 3-pointer, leads the net 122-121
55.4 to play: Middleton makes a 14-foot pull-up jumper, leading the Bucks 123-122
36.8 to play: Durant hits a 3-pointer, the Nets lead 125-123
One of the Nets’ biggest concerns with the organization is how the trio will be trapped during the crunch once they acquired Harden, though Kyrie Irving missed his seventh consecutive game on Monday. Durant calmed that noise with the clutch, moving a 3-pointer to take out the victory. Durant’s catch-and-shoot hoop, one of his trademark shots, came on an assist from Harden who rebounded his own miss.
“We’re still trying to find our way, and we’ve still got room to improve, but it’s a solid start,” Durant said.
1.1 to play: Middleton misses a 23-foot 3-pointer, the Nets win 125-123
Middleton finished the night with 25 points, but saw his step-back, 3-point effort roll in and out after catching an inbound pass from the sideline. Although several options were established, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer had no issues with the effort, even Antetoconpo who were superstars for the team.
“Khrist has been very gifted. He got off with a shot. I felt like it was going in, so if you could take the ball to Khris,” Budenholzer said. “His footwork, his height, but that’s a lot of things we’re looking at. Khris is one of those looks — so good read, good decision by Junior, good shot by Khris. We’ll take it.”