A trip to the Western Conference Finals hangs in the balance when the Milwaukee Bucks travel to the Barclays Center for Game 7 against the Brooklyn Nets. As the saying goes, this one is for all of the marbles. The banged-up Nets will have to get it done with Kevin Durant and a hobbled James Harden or risk watching the rest of the playoffs at home on a couch. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks have all of the momentum after a crushing Game 6 victory in Milwaukee on Thursday night.
Giannis must stay in attack modeThe Bucks are clearly at their best when Giannis Antetokounmpo turns into a human freight train instead of posing as a jump-shooter. Maybe he’ll improve his jumper one of these days, and maybe what we see is what we get—a physical freak of nature at his best when he’s running through bodies and snatching souls at the rim.
That’s the version of “The Greek Freak” needed to win playoff gam
But he also needs Khris Middleton to keep stepping up and knocking down big-time shots. Even with James Harden clearly not 100 percent, the Bucks aren’t going to win with Middleton merely being a passenger in this game. He’ll have to unload some daggers as well if the Bucks hope to slay the dragon.
Things have obviously been simplified defensively with Kyrie Irving gone and Harden clearly compromised with an injury.
Throw as many bodies at Durant and make someone else beat you.
The Bucks are the sixth-ranked team in defensive efficiency, and they have to continue to play like it on the road. They also have to be ready to weather the Durant storm that could come blowing through like Game 5. Antetokounmpo needs to continue attacking the rim regardless, which will ultimately set his teammates up for clean looks at the basket on the perimeter.
If the Bucks revert back to jump-shooting, they’ll be waking up on Sunday morning wondering what in the hell happened. The Nets are far from dead.
Can anyone help Durant?No one is feeling sorry for Kevin Durant being left on an island out there by myself. The world watched in horror as Durant joined forces with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green to terrorize the rest of the NBA when he was at Golden State. Now, he’s on a crashing ship with Kyrie Irving and James Harden both ailing with injuries.
It’s crazy how quickly things can change.
After the first two games in the series, the Bucks looked like they didn’t even belong on the same floor with the Nets. Then the injury bug hit, and now, the entire momentum of the series has shifted in the other direction.
Durant is going to need one of those mystical performances he had in Game 5 again on Saturday night.
Harden deserves a lot of credit for even being out there and competing when he’s clearly not 100 percent. He’s not in attack mode right now because he’s worried about the further damage he could potentially cause to his hamstring.
But if not Harden, who will be the next in line to step up?
Does anyone remember Joe Harris? There was a point in the season when some even referred to the Nets as the big four because he was shooting the ball so well from beyond the arc. He’s been missing on a milk carton throughout this series. His long-distance shooting percentage has been held to 25 percent or less in three of his last four games. With Irving out and Harden playing hurt, this is as good of a time as any for the fourth man to make his presence felt.
Durant is the best player on the floor. Antetokounmpo even admitted as such after Game 5. But he can’t win this series on his own. Other guys have to knock down shots.
It’s as simple as that.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Bucks are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
- Bucks are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games playing on 1 days’ rest.
- Bucks are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games against a team with a winning straight up record.
- Bucks are 31-15-1 ATS in the last 47 head-to-head meetings.