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East Semifinals, Game 5 Preview: Bucks vs. Nets

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Most NBA fans had counted out the Milwaukee Bucks after they went down 0-2 in the series to the Brooklyn Nets.  However,  the Bucks ignored all of the naysayers by tying the series up at 2-2 after Sunday’s 107-96 victory at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.  Here’s a quick recap of Game 4 as well as a preview of Game 5, which takes place tonight at 8:30 PM EST.

Game 4 Recap

After trailing at the end of the first quarter by three points, Milwaukee shot the ball much better in the second to take a five-point lead at the half.  The turning point in the game came in the second quarter when Nets superstar point guard Kyrie Irving went down with a sprained ankle.  Irving never returned to the game, and the Bucks widened their lead to a 12 point margin at the end of the third quarter.

With Irving and James Harden both injured, the Nets just couldn’t get back in the game in the final period.  They also failed to slow down Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had an MVP-like performance of 34 points and 12 rebounds.  P.J. Tucker, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and Bryn Forbes each reached double-figures in points to help the Bucks even the series.

Kevin Durant had to shoulder the Nets’ offensive load, and he responded with 28 points and 13 rebounds.  The problem was Durant couldn’t get any help from his teammates, as no one else reached double digits besides Irving.

Game 5 Preview

Who will pull ahead in the series?  Do the Nets have a chance to win at home, even if Irving can’t play?  Oddsmakers currently list the Bucks as a -2.5 point favorite in Game 5.  That point spread suggests that Irving won’t play even though he is listed on the injury report as day-to-day (ESPN).

Biggest Key for the Bucks:  Seize the Opportunity

Milwaukee has been only an average team on the road all season long.  In fact, the Bucks’ regular-season road record was only 20-16.  They were also blown out twice in Brooklyn in Games 1 and 2.

The Bucks have to seize this golden opportunity while the Nets are down to just one superstar player.  Antetokounmpo has to continue to dominate down low while getting good support from his fellow teammates.

Biggest Key for the Nets:  Health

Brooklyn must get either James Harden or Kyrie Irving healthy if they expect to win this series and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.  Durant is one heck of a ballplayer, but he can’t carry this team all by himself.  If Harden and Irving are both declared OUT for Game 5, it is going to be tough sledding for the Nets.

Supporting cast members like Blake Griffin, Bruce Brown, and Joe Harris will have to help Durant put points on the board if the Nets expect to have a chance at a Game 5 victory.  Things look bleak in Brooklyn unless Irving can pull off some type of Willis Reed performance.

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