basketball

Can the Bucks Big 3 Beat the Nets Big 3?

By Lenn Robbins

Should the Brooklyn Nets fear the deer?

Should the Nets fear any team in the playoffs? Probably not

In eliminating the undermanned Boston Celtics in five games, the Nets, the No.2 seed in the East, will host the No.3 seed Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday in what should be a riveting series. The Nets closed out Boston, 123-109, Tuesday night in Barclays Center. The outcome was never in doubt but when Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden hit back-to-back-to-back 3’s midway through the fourth quarter it was OK to think about the Bucks.

Durant, Irving, Harden, say hello to Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. Yes, Milwaukee has a Big 3 of its own although no one would say the Bucks trio is the measure of the Nets troika.

That, of course, is the headline, but man, there are a lot of subplots. Brooklyn may not be Manhattan but Kings County certain dwarfs Milwaukee. Big market vs small market always makes for some angst but the franchises share a unique dynamic.

The Bucks went all-in by trading two first-round picks (2025, 2027), the right to swap picks in 2024 and 2026 and guard Eric Bledsoe to New Orleans for Holiday, 30, one of the best two-way guards in the league. He is the player the Bucks believe can put them over the top.

The Nets, of course, traded away all but the rights to the Brooklyn Bridge to acquire Harden, 31, from Houston. It cost them three first round draft picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) and four first round pick swaps (2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027) an addition to players such as Jarrett Allen.

The Nets Big Three combined for 83 points, 17 rebounds and 16 assists in their closeout win Tuesday night. In Milwaukee’s 120-113 closeout win over the Heat on Saturday, the Bucks Big 3 combined for 51 points, 29 rebounds and 24 assists.

The Bucks are playoff tested and have veteran coach in Mike Budenholzer. This group of Nets will be making its first playoff appearance and coach Steve Nash is a rookie.

The Bucks haven’t won an NBA title since 1971. The Nets have never won an NBA title.

Yes, there a lot of subplots, but it comes down to this:

The Bucks swept the Heat and will have a full week of rest and preparation before Game 1. They also have a legit rim protector in former Nets center Brook Lopez, who would love to stick it to Brooklyn. And the Bucks have a Big Three of their own.

Is that enough to beat the Nets and their Big Three? The series is on the clock.

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