On the back of a superhuman performance from Kevin Durant, a shorthanded and hobbled Nets squad won Game 5 and took a 3-2 series lead.
After just a day off, the Brooklyn franchise now has a chance to wrap things up in Game 6 at Milwaukee to advance to their first Conference Finals since 2003, when they were still the New Jersey Nets.
Below, find everything you need to know ahead of a 'win or go home' Game 6 for the Bucks
Matchup: No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks vs No. 2 Brooklyn Nets
Series: Nets lead 3-2
Where to watch
Date: Thursday, June 17
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN, TSN 1 (Canada), Star Sports (India)
Location: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
What to watch:
Game 5 hangover
How the Nets react to a Game 5 hangover will be one of the keys to Game 6.
After a performance for the ages, will Durant start where he left off? Will the rest of the Nets defer to Durant? Will Jeff Green's red-hot touch from long-distance travel with him to Milwaukee? How will James Harden start Game 6 after a 1-of-10 shooting performance in Game 5?
These are just a few of the multiple questions the Nets will have to answer, especially early on in Game 6. One aspect of the game that we can expect Brooklyn to bring would be their defence, current owners of the third-best defensive rating in the postseason.
Room for improvement
The Nets won Game 5 with Durant and Green combining for 76 of their 114 points. Blake Griffin chipped-in with 17 but they didn't get much from anybody else.
The duo of James Harden, who returned after missing nearly all of the first four games with hamstring tightness, and Joe Harris combined for just 10 points. That's their shot chart from Game 5 below
They might not shoot lights-out in Game 6 but it's rare for players of their caliber to have back-to-back games with such torrid shooting - Harden (1-of-10) and Harris (2-of-11).
Bruce Brown, who played a huge role in Games 1 to 3 with averages of 11.7 points, seven rebounds and 3.3 assists in 28.3 minutes, has been somewhat of a non-factor in Games 4 and 5, where he's only averaged close to 17 minutes.
So, expect one of Harris and Harden to step-up and for the Nets, in general, to have a more balanced offence unless, of course, if Durant is feeling it again.
- Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694), NBA India
Can Jrue Holiday find offensive touch?
Holiday had been tasked with the responsibility of guarding Kyrie Irving through the first four games of the series. With Irving missing Game 5 with an ankle sprain, Holiday moved on to the returning James Harden.
As is often the case when guarding Harden, Holiday found himself frustrated early, picking up two fouls in the first quarter. That early foul trouble carried over to the second period, with a quick third foul limiting the Bucks' guard to just 11:18 of playing time in the first half.
Those fouls proved costly, with Holiday seemingly finding his groove to score 10 points on five shots during that stretch.
Finishing the game with 19 points on 7-for-16 shooting, it was another lackluster scoring performance from a guy the Bucks desperately need to get going.
|Second round vs. Brooklyn||14.4||6.2||46.6|
Holiday's efficiency has nose-dived in the series against Brooklyn. If he can find the touch, Milwaukee can find themselves right back in the series.
Will the Bucks take advantage of Brook Lopez on offence?
Coming into the series, Brook Lopez loomed as a significant advantage for the Bucks on offence.
Averaging 15.8 points per game in the sweep of Miami, Lopez was consistently used to take advantage of mismatches and score down low. Despite being transformed into an outside weapon at the five in recent years, the 63 points Lopez scored in the first round came on just one 3-point make.
The shot disparity between inside and outside looks had been trending this way since the All-Star break, which makes the utilisation of Lopez in the series against the Nets a little head-scratching.
Scoring 19 points in Game 1, Lopez finished 8-for-10 from 2-point range, while only attempting one shot from the outside that he missed. From games 2-5, Lopez has averaged just 8.5 points per game, with 19 of his 33 attempts coming from beyond the arc.
Bucks defensive assignments
As has become customary in the postseason, there has been much speculation around the defensive assignments of the Milwaukee roster. PJ Tucker has been assigned with the primary role on Kevin Durant, with the scrappy Bucks defender creating an enthralling contest throughout the series.
Averaging 29.7 points through four games, Durant was shooting just 44-for-96 (45.8 percent) from the field while attempting just 6.2 free-throw attempts per game. In Game 5, Tucker found himself in foul trouble throughout, as Durant unleashed for a 49-point outburst that included 16 attempts from the line.
Perhaps it was the comments of Steve Nash after Game 4 that led to the foul issues for Milwaukee in Game 5, perhaps it was simply inevitable that Durant would deliver a classic performance at some point in the series.
Nets Coach Steve Nash on PJ Tucker's defense on Kevin Durant: "I thought it was borderline non-basketball physical at times."- Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) June 13, 2021
Either way, the Bucks will likely return to the matchup with Tucker in Game 6. Now it's up to the Bucks to defend without fouling, a task that is easier said than done.
- Kane Pitman (@KanePitman), NBA Australia
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