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Takeaways: Nets pick up first preseason win packed with positives

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Brooklyn Nets v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Nets say they don’t put too much stock into the preseason but the team has to be pleased with their performance against the Bucks on Wednesday night. To top it off, it ended with their first preseason victory: 107-97!

After the two lackluster preseason losses that featured plenty of miscues on the defensive end of the floor and outright confusion on offense, Brooklyn took a step in the right direction against a Bucks team that was as near full strength as they were. More than anything, it become evident that a preseason win is what Brooklyn needed.

All of the Nets’ “Big Three” saw an increase in minutes — nearly all three playing 30+ minutes — and each member provided positive takeaways. Kyrie Irving led the scoring charge with 23 points (8-of-19 shooting from the field and 4-of-10 shooting from 3-point range) to go with seven boards, four assists, and a steal in a game-high 33 minutes.

Kevin Durant followed with 19 points on 7-of-17 shooting overall and 2-of-6 shooting from behind the arc. The Nets superstar added eight assists, three rebounds, three steals, and a block in his 31-minute showing. While Durant showed out a quiet preseason outing, it was Ben Simmons who fans were glad to see Wednesday night.

Simmons produced handfuls of beautiful dishes and was a lot more aggressive compared to his first two preseason showings. Although he went 1-of-4 from the foul line, Simmons completed the Nets' first preseason victory with a performance bordering on a triple-double with seven points, 10 boards, and eight assists to pair with two steals in 28 minutes. The 26-year-old had great sequences on both ends of the floor.

Beyond his playmaking, Simmons played Giannis Antetokounmpo well in the post. He played a total of 28 minutes.

In defending Giannis, Simmons was joined by Nic Claxton who played with confidence on both ends of the court. Offensively, he set the tone for Brooklyn in the first and ended his outing with a near-double-double of 16 points and nine boards in 26 minutes. Day’Ron Sharpe and Cam Thomas had 11 points each off the bench — both looking confident.

One of the big differences between the first two preseason games and Wednesday was a turnaround in turnovers. In the first two games, the Nets had a lot of turnovers: 26 to the Heat’s 11 in Game 2 after 27 to the 76ers’ 16 in Game 1. On Wednesday, Brooklyn had 14 turnovers while Milwaukee 22. The Nets also racked up 32 assists to the Bucks 19. The ball moved.

After a back-and-forth first half, the Nets went ahead at halftime then built their lead to 19 points three times in the second half. Although Steve Nash emptied the bench, Bucks coach kept three starters in the game and the lead dropped to seven with 3:08 left but Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe scored four straight.

Brooklyn played without Joe Harris (foot), Seth Curry (ankle), T.J. Warren (foot) and Edmond Sumner (hip), Milwaukee Khris Middleton (wrist), Wesley Matthews (ankle), Pat Connaughton (calf) and Grayson Allen (illness) are out.

The game was the last preseason contest for the Bucks who finished 0-5, including two games in Abu Dhabi.

Play of the Game

With less than two seconds on the clock as the first half ended, Royce O’Neale looked at the clock and three up a 46-footer...

Injury Update

Before the game, Steve Nash provided the latest on the Nets walking wounded, per Nick Friedell.

Joe Harris is feeling better and progressing in the right direction, Nash said. He also expressed optimism that Harris will be ready for the opener next Wednesday. Harris played in the first preseason game, but not in Games 2 or 3. Seth Curry, like Harris, is on the Nets Midwest trip, but he has yet to be cleared to go five-on-five.

Roster Update

The Nets announced early Wednesday that they had waived Noah Kirkwood, leaving them with 19 players, meaning there has to be two more cuts before Opening Night. Then, after the game, the Nets filled that vacancy by signing Donovan Williams, bringing them back to 20. The 6’6” Williams, known as “Stretch,” played for the Nets in Summer League. He went undrafted out of UNLV.

Neither Chris Chiozza nor RaiQuan Gray played in Wednesday’s contest although both were healthy.

Stephen A Update

Before the Nets win Wednesday night, Stephen A. Smith got on ESPN’s NBA Countdown and predicted this will be the last season Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving play together in Brooklyn.

“This is it. Barring a trade before the trading deadline, this is [Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving’s] last season together,” he said in response to a question from Mike Greenberg. They’re not re-signing with Brooklyn. Kyrie’s not re-signing with Brooklyn. ... He is trying to go to Los Angeles. That’s what he was trying to do over the summer. That’s what he’s trying to do now. He knows that he’s got to get through this season. Whether they win or lose, Kyrie is pretty much gone.”

Per Bleacher Report, Smith said things could change if Joe Tsai extends Irving during the season. Under league rules, the Nets can re-sign Irving for up to four years at any point in the season. Smith said “we all sincerely doubt” that scenario.

Smith did not discuss sourcing. Last week, Jovan Buha who covers the Lakers for The Athletic said, “The intel that we got from multiple people within the (Lakers) organization was that as of now it’s not like they’re saving their cap space for Kyrie Irving or that you know, there’s this grand plan to land Kyrie.”

ICYMI, we have all been here before.

What’s next

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Nets will finish off their four-game preseason slate against the Timberwolves on Friday night. For a different perspective on Wednesday night’s contest against the Bucks, check out Brew Hoop — our sister site against the Bucks.