Momentum is a funny thing, isn’t it?
Two games in their Eastern Conference semifinal series, the Brooklyn Nets were leading 2-0 and were not even in their final form. Despite James Harden’s absence, the Nets had crushed the Milwaukee Bucks twice and looked like the alleged NBA champion.
Two and a half games later they were well on a downward spiral, down 16 at halftime despite Harden’s return and on the verge of a 3-2 series deficit. And now, thanks to Kevin Durant’s best game since tearing his Achilles apart in the 2019 playoffs, they’re one game away from their first Eastern Conference final since 2003.
The Nets beat the Bucks 114-108 in Game 5 on Tuesday to take a 3-2 lead in the series, erasing a deficit of up to 17 points in the process.
Durant putting the Nets on the back was basically the expectation, with Harden still aware of his return from a hamstring injury. and Kyrie Irving still absent. This obviously happened, Durant posting 49 points on 16 of 23 shots (4 of 9 deep), 17 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals and two blocks.
Durant playing literally every minute of the game in his first season back from an Achilles tear, it was a surprise. Another surprise was Jeff Green – the 34-year-old journeyman who missed six of the Nets’ nine playoff games with a foot injury – providing a career-high 27 playoff points.
After a dying first half in which Harden missed all six shots from the field, the Nets started a 10-1 run midway through the third quarter to reduce the lead to single digits and give some life to the crowd at the Barclays Center.