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NETS WIN BIGGEST GAME OF YEAR, KNOCK OFF BUCKS 133-128

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Milwaukee Bucks Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

You wouldn’t have believed it until the clock expired, but the Brooklyn Nets won the biggest game of the season over the best team in the Eastern Conference.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was out. Khris Middleton was on a minutes restriction. The Nets cherished the golden opportunity and won in a seesaw battle, 133-128, Saturday evening in Milwaukee. With two games left, the Nets (40-40) are the sixth seed with 1.5 games in hand.

One more win and they should be in.

This game was all over the place for the Nets, who led by as many as 14 in the first half. It didn’t matter. Milwaukee came climbing back following a 15-2 run, but it didn’t matter. The Nets answered with a 12-0 run in the fourth and took a 15-point lead. It didn’t matter.

Milwaukee came storming back with a 20-5 run and 128-126 lead with 2:30 left. The Nets punched right back with a 7-0 run in the final 2:06 of the game, behind the tenacity of Jared Dudley, clutch scoring load of D’Angelo Russell and Joe Harris and defense from Caris LeVert.

The final two minutes was the perfect microcosm for Brooklyn’s entire night in the sense that everybody chipped in. The bench scored 69 points, led by LeVert’s 24 and Dudley’s season-high 16. Ed Davis and Spencer Dinwiddie chipped in 10 apiece, while Treveon Graham put home nine.

The Nets were ultimately led by Russell, who finished the night with 25 points and 10 assists on 10-of-15 shooting. He hit the bucket to put Brooklyn up five with less than a minute remaining, crossing over the man he was traded for, Brook Lopez. It was the biggest shot of DLo’s career ... and he came through.

As a whole, Brooklyn shot 49 percent from the field and 42 percent from three with just 10 turnovers. The issue? They allowed Milwaukee to shoot 56 percent from the field and 47 percent from three.

Even with Giannis out, they struggled to cover Milwaukee’s backcourt. Eric Bledsoe was a force with 33 points and 11 assists, while Middleton chipped in 24 in 30 minutes.

It was a temperamental game — much like this entire season has been. The Nets made it tougher on themselves having squandered double digit leads all throughout the night. But, they got the job done.

And now, we might not be talking about a play-in game against Miami if they take care of business against Indiana tomorrow. To put it simply, a Nets win vs. Pacers combined with a Heat loss to the Raptors Sunday and we are in.

PLAYOFF WATCH

No other games Saturday night. At the moment, the Nets are the sixth seed, tied with the Magic, but the Nets have the tiebreaker. They are a half game ahead of the Pistons who are in eighth, a game and a half ahead of the Heat, who are just out of the playoffs. The Hornets are two and a half games back in 10th.

SOME FUN FACTS:

—This was DLo’s 12th games with 20 points and 10 assists. In his three previous seasons combined, he had two.

—With 25 points and 10 assists Saturday, Russell now has 1,671 points and 552 assists on the season. He’s the first Net to top 1,650 points and 500 assists in a season. Jason Kidd’s best season? 1,491 and 711 in 2002-03. Vince Carter? 2.070 and 392 in 2006-07 And finally, Deron Williams, 1,476 and 604 in 2012-13. DLo has now played 80 games this season.

—The Nets had eight players in double figures, tying a season high.

—Jared Dudley exceeded or matched season highs in points (16); rebounds (7); free throws made (6); AND he had a game high +16.

—Tonight’s 40th win is the most since the 2013-14 season when they won 44 with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. Since then, they’ve won 38, 21, 20 and 28.

DLO MAKING HIGHLIGHTS... IN A SUIT

It was just another day for D’Angelo Russell, who was doing a photo shoot for Bleacher Report at the famous Brooklyn Bridge Park. A group of people playing pick up called for DLo to come play and, well, I’ll let the video do the talking.

What makes this so cool? D’Angelo continues to take the city by storm. He came to the Brooklyn community and not only embraced it, but made it his own. It seemed clear that’s what he wanted from Day One.

WE HAVE A FAVOR TO ASK...

According to the Minnesota Timberwolves play-by-play analyst, D’Angelo Russell called Karl-Anthony Town ahead of Wolves-Heat Friday night. He needed a little (big) favor.

The Wolves took down the Heat and gave the Nets a one game lead on the nine-seed Heat entering Saturday. KAT, however, didn’t have his best game with 10 turnovers. But, he got the win.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SPENCER!

For a different perspective, head on over to Brew Hoop, our Bucks sister site on SB Nation.

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The Nets will face the Indiana Pacers on Sunday in ‘Naptown at 5 p.m. ET.