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Nets look to take commanding 3-0 lead vs. Bucks

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Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets - Game Two Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

In the rain doing a buck 40, hydroplaning. The Brooklyn Nets played host to the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night, and beat them by 39 points in front of a raucous Barclays Center crowd. The lead got as big as 49 points. Two more to go.

Read about the game from Milwaukee’s perspective here.

Where to follow the game

ESPN on TV. WFAN on radio. YES Network pre and post game. Us on clubhouse. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

Spencer Dinwiddie is out. Jeff Green is making progress from his foot injury, but he lwon’t be back tonight. He’s close tho. James Harden is dealing with his hamstring injury and will be out tonight, too.

No Donte DiVincenzo.

The game

The Nets lead got up to as much as 49 points in Game 2. The Bucks have a lot to figure out and they don’t have much time. The clock is ticking on Mike Budenholzer and an ugly series loss will spell doom on his time coaching in Milwaukee.

Going into game two, there were concerns about the minutes played by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in G1. Both were around 40 plus minutes in game one, but they were in the early 30s on Monday night. With the two days off between games and two days off before Game four, Durant and Irving can go long if need be tonight.

Moving on from the minutes total, how KD has been utilizing those minutes has been a sight to see. He looked like the best player in basketball on Monday night as his 32/6/4 line on 12-18 shooting was one part of the Nets onslaught. For as amazing as the numbers were, it doesn’t even begin to describe just how mesmerizing he was. His defense was outstanding as his length allowed for him to disrupt and contest everything the Bucks tried to do. PJ Tucker was inserted into the starting lineup to help slow Durant down, and it hasn’t been working. What do you do when one of your big adjustments doesn’t work?

Nothing I write about Giannis Antetokuonmpo will be as direct as what Andrew Goodman of Brew Hoop wrote, so let me get out the way:

I have never seen a player of his caliber struggle so mightily when it matters...and most of the errors feel like simple mental mistakes. Giannis barely showed up in the first half, tallying only six points. Seeing him afraid to drive at Blake Griffin was discouraging, and Griffin has had the upper hand for pretty much games one and two. Bruce Brown outmuscling him for an offensive rebound in the third was my boiling point because it looked like he didn’t care nor was he even trying out there. Giannis does not handle adversity well, and when the Bucks are in front, things are all fine and dandy. However, with the Bucks needing to play catch up, Antetokounmpo turns into an unrecognizable player. The number of idiotic three-pointers attempted by him in BOTH games drives me crazy. Please, it is time those start counting as turnovers. Oh, and he has absolutely ZERO chance at defending Kevin Durant one-on-one. There’s not much left for me to say about Giannis other than the critics might be right because he has been outplayed by the likes of Griffin, Bruce Brown, Mike James, Joe Harris, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant. BIG YIKES.

When you’re a franchise player like Giannis is, you’ve gotta rise to the occasion and push your guys to a win when you need one to save your season. We’ll see what the two time MVP can do.

Blake Griffin: Lunch Pail Guy! Blake isn’t dunking on Timofey Mozgov like the old days, but he’s been sensational this series. He’s helped stymie Giannis and has served as another facilitator on offense. Griffin

We mentioned Kyrie Irving’s eh second half in G1 and noted that he got a bit unlucky as his shots rimmed out. That wasn’t the case in G2 as his 9-17 from the field and 4-8 from downtown had the Bucks off kilter. He’s been able to break down the Bucks defense at every turn and even in the instances where they do a great job playing individual defense, he just rises up and buries a jumper in your face anyway.

It’s making for a difficult time for Jrue Holiday and considering his role in facilitating the Bucks offense, he has to get it back in track. So many times in this series the Bucks have just rushed shots up way too early in the shot clock in an attempt to match the Nets shot for shot. As the point guard, Holiday has to set his guys up, keep them playing at a good tempo, and try to attack the Nets defense. Holiday is a good player and he might be due for a breakout performance.

Player to watch: Khris Middleton

Going into the series, I asked Kyle Carr of Brew Hoop about Middleton and here’s what he told me:

Brooklyn doesn’t have anyone that is as poor a defender and will be targeted the way Duncan Robinson was targeted last round. If Milwaukee wants to have a chance not only in this series, but also for a championship, Khris has to be aggressive both in making his shots but also taking the shots. I do think he will get his buckets but depending on if he is guarding Harden or shadowing Joe Harris will give me an idea on how much energy he will have as the game gets closer to the end.

Yeah, he ain’t making it happen. To his credit, Middleton did start to heat up in the second quarter, but it came at a point when things were out of control for the Bucks. Middleton just hasn’t been able to put it together in the two games so far, and it’s a big part of why the Bucks are trailing. He’s forced shots, not been able to get to the rim, gotten beat on defense too many times, etc. It’s all bad for Middleton right now and he’s going to have to play up to his All Star talent if the Bucks want to get back into this series. There’s no better time than the present.

When the ball is hopping around, it becomes impossible to slow down the Nets offense. That makes a player like Joe Harris even more dangerous. He only knocked down three three pointers, but the space he provides allows for the Nets to do their thing on other parts of the court. Middleton has fallen asleep chasing Harris a few times and when your defense is not 100 percent locked in against the Nets, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself down 49 points.

From the Vault

Prince’s birthday was on Monday, so let’s take it back to the Lovesexy era.

More reading: Brew Hoop