Nets look to get revenge against the Bucks and their buzzer-beating tip-in
Opponent: Milwaukee Bucks
Location: Barclays Center
Watch: YES Network
Listen: WCBS 880 AM
How long does the miraculous last? That will be the question tonight at Barclays Center as both the hometown Brooklyn Nets and visiting Milwaukee Bucks are coming off separate stunning victories. The Nets beat a very good Los Angeles Clippers team that had annihilated them a few weeks ago thanks to Sean Kilpatrick’s heroic 38 points, while the Bucks beat the defending NBA champions in convincing style.
While both wins were equally eye-popping, they do not necessarily evince an equality of stature between the Nets and Bucks, make no mistake. For the Nets, the victory came in double overtime after the Clippers appeared to coast down the stretch up nearly 20 by third quarter’s end. The Bucks, on the other hand, won going away, outscoring the Cleveland Cavaliers by 14 in the third quarter en route to an impressive 17-point victory.
Nor do the victories place both franchises on similar trajectories, either. For the Nets, the double overtime victory snapped a seven-game losing streak which began with that 32-point drubbing in Los Angeles way back on November 14th. For the Bucks, it was their third win in four games, bringing them back to .500, while the Nets currently flounder at 5-12, ahead of only Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference. The Nets, especially Sean Kilpatrick who added a career-high 14 boards to his 38 points, should certainly be given credit for never giving up on a game that seemed out of reach late in the third quarter, but it is hard to compare their late-game blitz with the Bucks’ dominance of the Eastern Conference’s best squad.
The past, of course, is only the prologue. The Bucks and Nets present a fairly interesting clash of styles, backed up by the franchise’s fun Halloween showdown in which the Brook Lopez-less Nets hung until John Henson’s buzzer-beating tip-in ripped out their hearts. Lead by the monster that is point-Giannis (more on that below) the Bucks are all speed, length, and points in the paint; while the Nets, at least absent the still-injured Jeremy Lin, present a more balanced attack, drawing equally from the inside game of Lopez and the outside shooting of Bojan Bogdanovic and the aforementioned Kilpatrick.
The Bucks look like a young team starting to put it all together, finally, whereas the Nets are going to have to crawl and scratch for every victory. If Trevor Booker and Lopez can control the paint, then the Nets certainly stand a puncher’s chance, especially with Milwaukee’s woeful outside shooting. However, if the Bucks are able to get out and run, then things could get ugly in Brooklyn in a hurry. For only one team will the good times continue to roll, and neither team is solid enough yet to presume one victory will necessarily lead to another. The Nets beat the Clippers because they refused to give up in a game that seemed like a loss — they would do well to play with precisely that spirit for the remainder of the season.
3 Things to Watch for in Nets-Bucks:
1. Welcome Home, Benedict Arnold — I Mean… Jason Kidd
Jason Kidd, the Nets’ best franchise player ever and former head coach, was an early adapter of the shift towards perimeter-orientated basketball when he here in Brooklyn. Now, with Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson, Jabari Parker, and Thon Maker, Kidd is building in Milwaukee the monster he once envisioned on Flatbush Avenue. After a failed coup attempt on Billy King, Kidd bolted the crumbling Nets for the upstarts in Milwaukee. It seems unlikely that Kidd’s welcome in Brooklyn will be a warm one, though perhaps someone will toss some water on the court for old times sake.
2. Greek Freak on Fleek
Whenever he steps onto the court, few in the NBA garner as much attention as Giannis Antetokounmpo, aka the Greek Freak. Just look at his line from the Cavaliers game: 34 points, 12 boards, 5 assists, 5 steals, and 2 blocks. If that’s not impressive enough, here are his season averages: 22.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2.1 steals, and 2.1 blocks.
Beyond the numbers, ever since moving to the point(forward) last season, the Greek Freak has played with a fluidity and aggression equaled only by Russell Westbrook. No matter what else happens tonight, tune in to see just what Giannis gets up to. Normally, you’d have to go all the way down to the Coney Island Boardwalk to see things this freakish.
3. Sean Kilpatrick, a Revelation
Time for some real talk here at the end of the post and it involves Sean Kilpatrick. The Nets are not going to win the Eastern Conference this season. The Nets are not going to win the Atlantic Division. Barring something truly extraordinary, the Nets will not make the playoffs and the dang Boston Celtics will get another juicy lottery pick to play with.
With that in mind, the discovery of Kilpatrick is exactly what this 2016-2017 Nets season is all about. With few-to-no draft picks from which to rebuild, the Nets need to uncover talented players in less traditional ways and the sharp-shooter is the gold standard by which Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson will turn around this franchise.
The Nets future lies in unearthing more players like Kilpatrick, so sit back, and enjoy a glimpse into a future where hope still resides.