It was an instant classic in Brooklyn tonight. The Nets came into this game desperately needing a win to avoid going down 3-2. James Harden was a question mark before tip-off, but he ultimately played through his hamstring injury knowing the Nets needed him. The story of this game was without a doubt Kevin Durant, as he had one of the greatest performances of his entire career. While the Nets pulled out the victory, it looked extremely dire early…
Nets Could Not Score Early
The Nets started off game 5 looking terrible offensively. The Nets as a team ended the first quarter with only 15 points on 4-20 shooting, which included only 2 assists. The ball just wasn’t moving around and the offense looked stagnant. Part of the reason why the Nets weren’t scoring early was the play of James Harden. Harden, who of course is nursing a hamstring injury, did not look explosive at all. You could tell he was playing very passive.
The second quarter was better for the Nets offensively, but they could not stop Milwaukee’s offense. The Nets went into half-time down 16, with a potential series deficit looming. The only players who stepped up for Brooklyn in the first half was Durant and surprisingly Jeff Green. Green collected 15 points on 3/3 shooting from deep in the game’s first two quarters. James Harden put up a total of zero points in the first half for Brooklyn. You heard that right, zero points.
Nets Looked Energized in the Second Half
The momentum of the game instantly switched in Brooklyn’s favor once the second half began. After getting outscored in each of the first two quarters, the Nets returned the favor and outscored the Bucks by 10 in the third. The ball was popping, with the Nets collecting 10 assists alone in the quarter. The team overall just looked like they wanted the game more. Jeff Green continued his amazing performance picking up another 3 three-pointers in the quarter alone. James Harden finally scored too.
Kevin Durant was just unbelievable once the fourth quarter came. Putting the team on his back, Durant scored 20 points in the fourth quarter, which included a number of clutch three-pointers. Durant on the night picked up a 49-point triple-double, with 17 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. Easily the greatest playoff performance from a Nets player in franchise history. Durant ended up playing all 48 minutes, which was vital as the Nets squeezed out the game with a 114-108 victory. Potentially the greatest game of Durant’s career.
It will be interesting to see how Steve Nash will use Durant and Harden in game 6, considering both of them played heavy minutes. Durant played the entire game, with Harden not too far behind with 46 minutes. While it definitely was a risk by Nash playing both of them heavy minutes, it was ultimately the right decision.
What’s Next for the Nets
The series will shift back to Milwaukee on Thursday, with the Nets looking to end the series in 6. Don’t expect Kyrie Irving to play for the remainder of the series, so it will be another tall order for Kevin Durant and James Harden. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 PM EST on ESPN.