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Bucks defeat limbo-lingering Nets and clinch sixth seed, 96-73

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Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

It was the biggest game of the year - a game that potentially could've sent the Nets to the playoffs for the third straight year depending on the result of Indiana-Oklahoma City later Sunday night. Who better to do it against than Jason Kidd and the Milwaukee Bucks?

Well, it was quite the opposite.

Milwaukee defeated the Nets, 96-73, and notched Kidd and his Bucks a playoff seed along with guaranteeing Milwaukee a better regular season finish than the Nets. After the Pacers beat the Thunder, later Sunday, they and  the Nets are tied for eighth place. The Nets own the eighth place tiebreaker with the Pacers. The Nets magic number is 2, a combination of Nets wins and Pacers losses, with two to go. Celtic magic number is one.

This game could not have been much uglier on the offensive end for the Nets. They didn't hit a shot outside the paint until the second quarter, and shot just 34% from the field in the first half. Somehow, they only trailed by two, with Deron Williams shooting 1-of-10 from the field and the Nets as a whole 1-of-10 from three.

Everything besides the scoreboard was ugly. That too changed very quick.

The Bucks let Brooklyn take three's at will, because well, they weren't hitting any at all. Milwaukee went on a 14-0 run late in the third quarter to increase the lead to 20. The Nets, meanwhile, were 32% from the floor at that point as Milwaukee outscore them 30-18 in the quarter. The Nets just weren't in it. Mentally, emotionally, physically, etc.

Credit the Milwaukee defense, though. They held the Nets to 32.5% shooting (16.7% 3-point) and forced 20-Brooklyn turnovers, one game after committing only six against the Washington Wizards. Milwaukee swarmed with double teams every chance they got, while leaving Nets' shooters wide-open around the perimeter.

On a positive note, Brook Lopez finished with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds, and moved passed Jason Kidd for fourth all-time in Nets' career scoring with 7,375 points. Kidd, watching on, could probably care less with his team cruising into the playoffs.

The Nets starters were a combined 12-of-42 from the floor, with Thaddeus Young shooting 4-of-14, Joe Johnson 3-of-9, and Markel Brown 1-of-6.

Nothing was more crucial than Deron Williams' 1-of-11 performance. In a time where the Brooklyn Nets needed him most, Williams fell under the pressure and just couldn't put the ball in the hoop. The Bucks played good D, but D-Will missed several wide-open threes and even a few layups. He did his usual thing by facilitating the offense with seven assists, despite the Nets' inability to score the ball.

They finished with 16 assists on the night. The Bucks finished with 30. Ersan Ilyasova, as per usual, killed the Nets. He scored 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, further exposing the Nets' weakness of covering stretch fours and fives. The "Greek Freak" finished with a near triple-double of 13 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Now, the Nets await the result of Indiana-Oklahoma City to see where they stand in the standings. With an Indiana victory, the teams would be tied for eighth, but the Nets would own the spot for possessing the tiebreaker. They play the Chicago Bulls back in Brooklyn Monday night, then the Orlando Magic Wednesday night.

Their destiny is still in their hands. They just need to win two straight games.