Two of the main Eastern Conference teams meet Tuesday night for the second time in three days, but as the Bucks and Nets prepare to face each other again, the Philadelphia Eagles have taken control of the Eastern Conference.
Tuesday’s game will pit the Nets (43-22) in third place (43-22) against the Bucks (40-24) and a showdown between two of the best players in the NBA, Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Milwaukee took top honors on Sunday night when Durant shot 7 of 13 for 3 points, his most productive performance behind the arc this season, and tied his season high of 42 points for a second straight outing.
Antetokounmpo responded with a season high of 49 points and four 3 points.
“Playing against great players, both champions (Durant and Kyrie Irving), great scorers, you want to be a part of games like this,” Antetokounmpo said in his post-game press conference.
“As you grow up you want to play against the best.”
NBA games Tuesday night
|Phoenix Suns @ Cleveland Cavaliers|
|Charlotte Hornets @ Detroit Pistons|
|Brooklyn Nets @ Milwaukee Bucks|
|Dallas Mavericks at Miami Heat|
|Golden State Warriors @ New Orleans Pelicans|
|Sacramento Kings @ Oklahoma City Thunder|
|Toronto Raptors @ Los Angeles Clippers|
NBA Live: Brooklyn @ Milwaukee 04.05
Wednesday May 5 12:30 p.m.
Durant won the MVP final with Golden State in 2017 and 2018, and Irving was a key contributor to the Cleveland Championship in 2016.
Behind Antetokounmpo, the two-time reigning regular-season MVP, the Bucks are looking for their first trip to the final since 1974 and their first championship since 1971.
Completing the back-to-back sweep against Brooklyn, who is now one game behind the seeded Philadelphia after the 76ers win on Monday night, may be a useful step in this pursuit with stakes on the court over the next two weeks.
With eight games to go, the Bucks are three and a half games behind the 76ers, while Tuesday’s game is the first of seven for the Nets.
The Bucks won back-to-back against Philadelphia on April 22 and 24, in a 5-2 streak in their last seven games. One of the losses came with Antetokounmpo playing under a minute due to an ankle injury.
He missed the next game – a 108-98 win on April 30 in Chicago where top Khris Middleton scored with 22 points, in a five-game streak in which he averaged 24.2 points per game.
Middleton scored 26 points and collected 11 rebounds in Sunday’s victory in Brooklyn, and scored six straight points – including a rare four-point play – to spark an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter that proved to be decisive .
Nets coach Steve Nash blamed sloppy attacking play for Brooklyn’s loss, especially 16 turnovers.
“We are worried that this (until) will improve tomorrow and we are worried about the next game,” Durant said in his post-match press conference. “And we replay these guys, which is the good part.”
Although Durant and Irving combined for 62 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists, the continued absence of a star looms for Brooklyn – especially James Harden.
Harden last played on April 5, a game in which he recorded less than five minutes due to a lingering hamstring injury.
Brooklyn was also without Chris Chiozza on Sunday, who had hand surgery last month. The Nets added longtime EuroLeague veteran Mike James to alleviate some of their injury concerns, and announced on Monday he had signed another 10-day contract.
James scored 15 points in the Nets’ loss to Portland on April 30.
On Sunday, Milwaukee was wholeheartedly veteran Bobby Portis, who is hand to mouth due to illness. His teammate Jeff Teague, who left Sunday’s game with abdominal tension, is also on the daily.
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