Nets’ suffocating defense can turn Bucks series ugly fast

There is an opportunity this all falls beneath the umbrella of the outdated chicken-or-the-egg idea. Are the Bucks making the Nets defense seem like the ’85 Bears? Are the Nets making the Bucks’ offense seem like the last-place workforce in your city’s 8-and-under rec league?

Probably slightly of each.

The Bucks look terrible. Worse: they appear executed. They look pissed off, flummoxed, puzzled, perplexed. They don’t seem like they belong in the identical space code because the Nets, not to mention on the identical court docket. Game 1 was a education. Game 2 — Nets 125, Bucks 86 — was a visit to the woodshed. If not the wooden chipper.

And, positive, the Bucks missed their share of excellent, open appears early.

But it’s price remembering that the one factor the remainder of the NBA was ready to hold its hat on in determining the Nets — in addition to the chance that they could undergo a debilitating harm — is the truth that, for probably the most half, the Nets handled the 72-game common season and the five-game warm-up spherical win over the Celtics as if defense was some sort of boring, bourgeoisie activity for others to fret about.

“We’re growing,” Steve Nash stored insisting.

The Nets had proven some flashes in opposition to the Celtics. After a 32-point quarter in Game 1 of this series, they closed their fists across the Bucks the ultimate three quarters. But this was one thing else. This was start-to-finish, end-to-end. There had been giant swaths of the sport when it felt just like the Nets had been on an influence play, and a five-on-three one besides.

Part of that’s extraordinary offense.

And half was a defense that suffocated the Bucks and in the end despatched them again to Wisconsin questioning in the event that they can determine this out in time to make a tangible distinction, even on their dwelling flooring.

“We battled, we scrapped, we fought,” Nash mentioned when the carnage was full. “We did the little things you have to do to win.”

Blake Griffin guards Giannis Antetokounmpo on Monday.
Blake Griffin guards Giannis Antetokounmpo on Monday.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

And the massive issues, too, particularly with James Harden watching the sport in civilian garments. The offense was extraordinary, as regular, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving combining for 54 factors. But we’ve come to anticipate that, even when the Nets are shorthanded.

We aren’t used to seeing the Nets maintain an elite offensive workforce just like the Bucks to 44 p.c capturing from the ground, 29.6 p.c from 3. The Bucks had been so shaken they solely made 4 of their 9 free-throw makes an attempt. The basket regarded as huge as a thimble all night time. And the Nets helped shrink it for them.

“The guys have worked hard this year trying to find our best level on that end of the court,” Nash mentioned. “Tonight was exceptional. It’s been pretty solid throughout the payoffs, we feel like underdogs on defense, relying on heart and connectivity.”

Underdogs is a humorous phrase to make use of regarding the Nets proper now, who’re overdogs in virtually each method. At the least, it was thought that the Bucks — who’ve been a contender for years and performed them properly all three video games this 12 months, profitable twice — would push the Nets to a different stage. And they’ve. The Bucks simply haven’t gone alongside for the trip. Not but.

In the historical past of playoff blowouts, the one which often provides probably the most hope and good cheer for the victims of such dustings is the Memorial Day Massacre, May 27, 1985, when the Celtics jumped to a 79-49 halftime lead in Game 1 of the NBA Finals at outdated Boston Garden earlier than settling for a 148-114 closing.

The Lakers recovered from that, received the series, received clinching Game 6 on the Garden, actually. That has at all times been a life raft for playoff groups who play so poorly that it allowed the nice Marv Albert, at the very least another time, to talk of “extensive gar-BAJ time.”

If that basically does assist the Bucks, God bless. Same to the remainder of the league. Because if the Nets are going to play defense like this? Mike Breen may need to ask Marv if he can borrow that catch phrase for the Finals. Because this received’t be the final one-sided night time we’re going to see.

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