The Brooklyn Nets were not only seeking revenge on the Milwaukee Bucks after being eliminated by them in last year’s playoffs, they were seeking to spoil the Bucks’ championship ceremony night. Giannis Antetokounmpo (32 PTS, 14 REBS, 7 ASTS) had other plans.
The Bucks star propelled Milwaukee to a 127-104 win. After receiving their rings, the reigning champions came out the gates locking down defensively and playing with much better chemistry than the Nets. The Bucks were able to force 12 turnovers while also capitalizing off of them, attempting 21 more shots than the Nets.
Unfortunately for them in the process, Jrue Holiday (12 PTS, 18 MINS) was forced to leave the game due to a right heel contusion.
Before you knew it, the Nets found themselves down by as many as 19 points in the first half. Brooklyn made several runs to cut the deficit, but the Bucks would always extend the lead whenever the Nets got within striking distance.
At one point, Patty Mills (21 PTS) was the only source of offense in the first two periods. By the time Kevin Durant (32 PTS, 11 REBS) and James Harden (20 PTS, 8 ASTS) found their rhythm, the deficit was too much to recover from.
Here are our grades for the Nets roster in the season-opening loss:
Kevin Durant: B
Kevin Durant was phenomenal offensively, but something seemed a bit off about him in the season opener. On his way to scoring 32 points, he went 13-of-25 from the field, but we all know that the 33-year-old was capable of making at least half of those 12 missed shots. A good deal of Durant’s production also came when the game was out of reach.
Durant also went 3-of-6 from the free-throw line, which is not typical of him.
James Harden: B-
James Harden stuffed the stat sheet in this matchup. The former MVP notched 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Harden gave up four possessions through with his four turnovers and you can just tell he was not as in sync with his new teammates.
As the primary facilitator of this team, this is a huge chip on the guard’s shoulder to carry, but he is more than capable of doing so. He needs to learn where his teammates’ tendencies are on the offense end to limit those turnovers and the rest will play itself out. This goes for the rest of the team too.
Patty Mills: A
The Australian native Patty Mills was instant offense for Brooklyn off the bench. The veteran went 7-of-7 from downtown to score 21 points. Keep in mind, the entire Nets bench scored 25 points. In just this one performance, Mills proved why he’s a leading candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year.
Joe Harris: B-
Joe Harris was a threat from the perimeter as always, helping to create opportunities and spacing for others by just his presence out there. However, there were chances were the sharpshooter attacked the basket while also telegraphing his shot.
Defenses were able to recover and contest late or even get out to him in time to block Harris. Moving forward, the 30-year-old needs to get to his shot faster when driving or utilize the pump fake more, considering he can get almost any defender to jump off of his shot fake.
Nicolas Claxton: C+
Nicolas Claxton (12 PTS, 7 REBS) played a great game, but his communication on pick and rolls offensively need to get better. There were instances were a ball handler would pass it to him off of a roll and he would not look up to see if a pass was thrown. In addition, he also had trouble catching the ball after freeing himself.
Once this is cleaned up, Claxton must also improve his conditioning. In the game, you can see the young big man taking his time to get back defensively, especially in the first half. Milwaukee was able to capitalize off of those much needed possessions.
Blake Griffin: B
Blake Griffin gave what was asked from him. He drew the assignment of Giannis Antetokounmpo, rebounded and made himself an option on picks and rolls. Of course, the veteran’s ability to set solid screens and to make timely charges are just something you can’t teach, you just learn over time.
Bringing this experience to the table will always help the veteran in making an impact. It also makes Griffin irreplaceable.