Much of the talk over the last 48 hours had been around the Brooklyn Nets ability to defend Milwaukee Bucks MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Those questions will linger into the postseason, as Antetokounmpo used a 36-point, 12-rebound double-double to fuel a 124-118 win for the Milwaukee Bucks.
In what looms as a likely second-round matchup, the Bucks once again rallied from six points down in the fourth to claim the win, exactly as they did on the weekend.
The MVP was back at it:- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) May 5, 2021
36 PTS | 12 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 4 3PM (tied season-high) pic.twitter.com/VIVwJM30QQ
Help for Giannis
As dominant as the Bucks have been over the course of the last three regular seasons, too often it has felt like it's Giannis or nothing when it comes to the team's ability to run a fluent offence.
The addition of Jrue Holiday has allowed the Bucks to take turns scoring the ball as Mike Budenholzer finally has a legitimate third option on the perimeter.
On this night, the Bucks 'big three' took turns taking over the game, with Middleton and Holiday each scoring 23 points, while also combining for 15 rebounds and 14 assists.
Holiday carried the secondary scoring load in the first half, tallying 15 points through two quarters, while Middleton took over late, scoring 13 of the Bucks 32 fourth-quarter points. Middleton was 8-for-15 from 2-point range in this one, repeatedly driving to the basket in the final period to score in the paint.
The best plays from tonight's second WIN in 2 days against Brooklyn!! pic.twitter.com/N7k1iTdGIl- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) May 5, 2021
Durant's easy scoring
Is there a more beautiful player to watch on offence than Kevin Durant?
The Brooklyn superstar dropped another 32 points, finishing 50 percent from the field and the 3-point line. In a sign of what to expect come playoff time, Antetokounmpo, Middleton and PJ Tucker all spent time attempting to slow down the former MVP, largely to no avail, with Durant's ability to simply shoot over players a sight to behold.
KD through contact 💪 pic.twitter.com/Xad5po1f9U- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) May 5, 2021
The 32-points followed up 42 from two nights ago, as Durant continues to prove that rust is simply not something that exists when it comes to his ability to return from injury.
Home court advantage?
Playing at home has been a little different all season, with limited crowds now returning including tonight at Fiserv Forum, with just over 3,000 fans in attendance.
This could be a factor looking ahead to the postseason, with now just 1.5 games back of the Nets for second spot in the Eastern Conference. While both teams look destined to collide in round two of the playoffs, whoever finishes the regular season in second will have home court for the series, which could include a decisive game seven.
By winning the last two meetings, the Bucks do hold the tiebreaker, as they do over the Philadelphia 76ers, though, they still 3.0 games ahead with the Bucks only having seven games to play in the regular season.
It would be remiss to not acknowledge the absence of the certain player named James Harden for the Nets, with the former MVP hoping to return from a hamstring injury in the near future.
Averaging 116 points per outing in the two losses to Milwaukee, it's quite a scary thought to imagine the firepower of Harden joining the squad. Brooklyn got 70 points out of Durant and Kyrie Irving in this matchup, with the superstar duo combining to shoot 25-for-47 from the field and 10-for-20 from three.
The rest of the Nets?
Just 48 points on 16-for-37 from the field. Durant and Irving are a dominant duo. Adding Harden could make Brooklyn too tough to handle.
The Bucks fifth starter
Donte DiVincenzo continues to fill an important role in the starting lineup for Milwaukee. Some nights it's scoring, other it's creating hustle opportunities.
On this night it was the latter, with the third-year guard reeling in 15 rebounds including six on the offensive glass. Time and time again DiVincenzo through his body among the trees in an attempt to give Milwaukee second-chance opportunities.
The Big Ragu attacks the rim. pic.twitter.com/GyQzhCCfEb- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) May 5, 2021
Milwaukee ended the night leading the second chance points count 20-9. In a six-point game, those plays matter. DiVincenzo is the type of player who can win the Bucks a playoff game without putting the ball in the basket. He showed exactly how against the Nets.
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