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Game 5: Nets and Bucks do battle at Barclays with the series lead at stake

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NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

So that was pretty frustrating. The Brooklyn Nets had a chance to go up 3-1 on Sunday afternoon, but it wasn’t in the cards for them as the Milwaukee Bucks came away with a double digit win to even the series up at two games a piece. Now the job gets even harder.

Read about G4 from the Bucks perspective here.

Where to follow the game

TNT on TV. WFAN on radio. YES Network pre and post. Join us on clubhouse afterwards: https://www.clubhouse.com/join/netsdaily/UVGmE1UR/xqNVEan8

Only game on the marquee tonight so we’re getting started after 8:30 PM tonight.

Injuries

James Harden (tight right hamstring) was upgraded from “out” to “doubtful” on Tuesday morning. Spencer Dinwiddie (torn ACL) is out. Kyrie Irving (sprained right ankle) is out. More on that in a moment.

Donte DiVincenzo is out.

The game

So, we’re starting here. In the second quarter, this happened:

Since Zaza Pachulia landed underneath Kawhi Leonard in the 2017 Western Conference Finals, the league has made a point to allow for players to land. It’s been drilled into our heads over and over again the player HAS to be given room to land. Kyrie didn’t get that landing from Giannis Antetokuonmpo and he sprained his ankle as a result. Was that a flagrant foul? Probably. Such is life so we move.

I followed the game on radio and Tim Capstraw made a really great point throughout. If you allow for the game to be played physically at the start of the game, you have to let it ride all game long to at least establish some sort of rhythm. Everyone got stuck with Scott Foster and Tony Brothers refereeing the game on Sunday, and the game was given room for physicality in the first half and more whistles were called in the second.

Somebody go put the timer back up. The league got in its feelings and told the Nets to knock it off and get rid of the timer after Game 1, but seriously. Hurry up and shoot, it’s not like we got all day here!

But in all seriousness, the Nets will need to figure out how to make things a bit more difficult for Antetokuonmpo on the inside. He mercifully cut down on the three point attempts in Game 4 and he was able to get downhill more frequently. Of his 26 shot attempts, only eight could be classified as from medium to long range. When Giannis put in positions where he can amplify his strengths and hide his weaknesses, he looks like the two time MVP that can be enough to push the Bucks to higher heights. When he isn’t, well... you get what Giannis gave us in Game 2.

For the Nets, they’ll need a bounce back game from Blake Griffin tonight. Steve Nash mentioned he kept his minutes low on purpose and with Irving and Harden out, the Nets are gonna need Game 1 and 2 Blake tonight. Griffin can help initiate offense in the half court and the Nets are going to need that.

Role players play better at home, and for Nets fans, the hope is that turns out to be true for Joe Harris. Harris had another stinker on Sunday afternoon and for a short handed team, you need your guys to do what they normally do, and now that the team is shorthanded, do a little bit more. Normally, you’d go for a short hook when a player is struggling like this, but *looks at the injury report* can’t really do that right about now! The Nets are just going to have to hope Harris gets his groove back and the Barclays Center crowd can help boost him up so he has a good game.

This might be the last home game of the year for the Nets, so let me just state for the record that this Fox Sports article was wack as shit. Moving on...

Speaking of role players, Jeff Green is back at the right time. He mentioned he was tired after his game back in a few weeks, and it’s certainly understandable. He did make some positive contributions in his time out there and the more time he gets to shake off the rust, the better he’ll be.

The Nets are gonna need a bit more ball movement if they wanna uncork the offense. At times, it looked like they settled too much for the first shot that came open instead of working for better looks.

But ultimately, the Nets chances of victory fall on the shoulders of Kevin Durant. KD had a rough day at the office as he didn’t get many calls and PJ Tucker spent the day muscling and hassling him all over the court. It looked like KD was getting a bit annoyed with Tucker, and it threw him off a bit. However, Durant is one of the game’s greatest scorers and players so with a few days to plan, he might be able to make it shake:

“We talk about basketball all year. We talk about schemes and what needs to be done. All of us go through scenarios because we love to play. But at a certain point, it’s just about going out there and hooping. We can have as many speeches as we want to give, but pretty much around this time, every team is going out there and just playing the game. We’ve got a game plan we wanna execute and it’s simple as that. We try not to add too much extras on anything. We all know what this game is about and we all know what this time is — it’s playoffs.”

Put yourself back on the map.

Player to watch: Jrue Holiday

No Irving means that Holiday will get a turn guarding Durant when Tucker gets to the bench. His shot still isn’t here, but he did a much better job of orchestrating the Bucks offense and he only turned it over once on Sunday. The Bucks offense tends to fall into bad ruts at the worst times, and it’s up to Holiday to keep everything moving well now that his team has the talent advantage.

Mike James, welcome to the biggest moment of your NBA career. James stepped it up in Game 1 for Harden and now that Irving is hobbled, he’s gonna need to do it again. James is someone that can get his own shot and any bit of creation will do wonders for Steve Nash and friends tonight. He does get shot happy at times and he’ll have to find the perfect balance of being a good scoring option and keeping everyone involved. Tyler Johnson will be in the rotation as well and he’ll need to help orchestrate the offense when Durant gets a few minutes to rest. It’s all hands on deck and James x Johnson have been capable hands for the Nets.

From the Vault

Tough matchup without your superstar running mate? KD’s been here before

More reading: Brew Hoop.