MILWAUKEE — The Nets having to watch the Bucks get the championship rings they thought ought to’ve been theirs was a slap in the face. What Milwaukee did to them after that was a punch in the mouth.
Brooklyn obtained blitzed proper out of the gate Tuesday towards uber-physical Milwaukee, falling into an enormous gap and dropping their nationally televised season opener 127-104 in a raucous Fiserv Forum. The sellout crowd of 17,341 got here for the ring ceremony, and stayed to watch the Nets get their collective bells rung.
The Nets had lost all 5 of their journeys to Milwaukee final season — common season and postseason — and fell at residence in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semis. With 10 new faces and one large lacking one in Kyrie Irving — despatched residence due to his refusal to adhere to New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates — they had been going to be just a little disjointed. But this was far worse than they may’ve presumably feared.
Kevin Durant had a team-high 32 factors and eight rebounds, whereas James Harden flirted with a triple-double (20 factors, eight boards and eight assists). But aside from Patty Mills — who had an awesome debut with 21 factors and hit 7 of seven from deep — there have been valuable few vivid spots for the Nets.
“What we have on paper is cool,” Durant had warned earlier than, “but we’ve still got to get out in between the lines and play.”
They didn’t play Tuesday evening, or at the least far too little too late. Just over 8 ½ minutes into the sport Brooklyn already trailed by 19, and spent a lot of the remainder of the night chasing.
The Nets nonetheless trailed 61-43 earlier than they reeled off a dozen factors to crawl inside six. Durant hit three straight buckets, together with a 3-pointer, and Nic Claxton — in solely his second career begin — dunked off a Mills feed to make it 61-55.
A Blake Griffin dunk moments later reduce the deficit to 64-59 simply earlier than the half. But the Nets by no means obtained any nearer, exhibiting all the varied weaknesses and Achilles’ heels they’d warned about. Last season, they hamstrung their overabundance of offensive expertise by giving their opponents far too many possessions. They did it once more Tuesday.
“Basketball-wise, we want to keep the ball in our hands,” Durant cautioned beforehand. “I think last year — we talked about it last year — a lot of teams had more possessions than us in the game, so I think that’s one of the things we want to emphasize, is keeping the ball in our hands and rebounding.”
The Nets allowed their hosts 11 extra makes an attempt in the primary quarter alone, and a dozen extra factors in trailing 37-25. They turned the ball over, letting the Bucks gouge them on the offensive glass, and paid for each.
“Yeah, for sure that’s definitely a theme,” Paul Millsap stated. “That’s the recipe for any team that’s trying to win. You’ve got to be able to rebound the ball, secure the ball and save possessions.”
Better play from the frontcourt might’ve helped hold Milwaukee off the offensive glass, and giving some minutes to conspicuously unused Bruce Brown might need helped the physicality and protection. The Nets had been poor in each a type of areas.
Claxton went in for what he thought was a dunk, however obtained blocked on the rim by Giannis Antetokounmpo (32 factors, 14 boards, seven assists). It led to a Pat Connaughton 3-pointer on the different finish and 21-8 Milwaukee lead.
Brooklyn trailed 31-12 after a Jrue Holiday pull-up 3-pointer with 3:13 left in the primary. That left the Bucks 7 of 12 from deep, whereas the Nets missed their first 5 till Mills got here off the bench and at last broke the drought.
The Nets reduce it to 5 simply earlier than the half, and 93-85 on Claxton’s layup with a minute left in the third. But he and the remainder of the frontcourt left Brooklyn little likelihood towards the champs.
Griffin obtained the nod at energy ahead and mustered a modest six factors, whereas LaMarcus Aldridge had only one off the bench, wanting motionless and unable to swap defensively. Millsap was scoreless. They and Claxton provided no rim safety, combining for simply two blocks amongst them. The Bucks had 9 as a group.