The Brooklyn Nets had a chance to take a stranglehold on their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night. Two late misses by Bruce Brown, and not superstars Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving, sealed the team’s fate in Game 3, after two blowout wins in Brooklyn to start the series.
The Nets and Bucks, two of the best offensive teams in the NBA, played one of the ugliest games of the playoffs. Milwaukee outlasted Brooklyn 86-83, in a game that resembled an early 90s bout.
The Nets shot 36.2/25/87.5 on the night, with Durant, Irving, and Brown combining for 68 of the team’s 83 points. Milwaukee’s numbers were similar: 37.8/19.4/63.2 as a team, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton combining for 68. No other Buck broke double-digits.
While Brown may have been the Net having the most surprisingly strong game, and Durant and Irving both struggling to hit shots they normally drill, no Nets fan wanted to see him take two crucial late shots instead of the two all-world offensive talents on the roster. And yet, that’s exactly what happened. After grabbing an offensive rebound, Brown missed a 15-foot floated with 20.3 seconds left. After Jrue Holiday beat him for a layup to put the Bucks up 84-83 on the ensuing possession, the Nets had an unsettled possession which ended with Brown missing a layup to essentially ice the game.
— Monkey Knife Fight (@mkf) June 11, 2021
After hitting a game-tying jumper with 1:55 left, and a go-ahead three with 1:23 on the clock, Kevin Durant did not take any of the team’s next three shots, hoisting a last-second 29-footer that failed to go in to tie the game.
Unsurprisingly, Brown was the scapegoat for many fans last night. He’s been an incredibly useful player for Brooklyn this year, especially with James Harden out, for much of the playoffs. His teammate Kyrie Irving says that the blame never lies on one player though.
Kyrie Irving on Bruce Brown after his missed shots at the end of Game 3: “Usually, Bruce puts us in a great position to at least have something at the rim that goes in, but tonight it just didn’t go for us. It’s not on him. It’s not on any one person. Just got to execute.” pic.twitter.com/LTG7Nt3YGw
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) June 11, 2021
Brown finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds on 8-of-17 shooting in the game. Those numbers would be pretty impressive for the versatile guard, but the two late misses have to sting.
The Brooklyn Nets remain in great position though, up 2-1 in the series. Game 4 in Milwaukee is on Sunday, June 13 at 3 p.m. ET.