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The Brooklyn Nets were already a threat to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference, and now they have traded for James Harden.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ road to the NBA Finals this season just got far more challenging than it already was.
The Brooklyn Nets have already been at the center of the NBA world for the early stages of the 2020-21 season, and that proved no truer than Wednesday afternoon when they went all-in to reportedly acquire one-time MVP James Harden from the Houston Rockets. With Harden now in the fold, he forms a star-studded trio comprised of fellow MVP winner Kevin Durant and the ever enigmatic Kyrie Irving.
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That is not ideal for the Bucks, who were already trying to erase the memory of their woes from the past two seasons.
Now, they will likely have to face their hardest test yet in this collection of superstar talent. That obviously makes things all the more difficult for them to finally fulfill their championship desires, as there will be a combined 24 All-Star nominations between three of the most prolific scorers that the league has ever seen sharing the ball for the Nets.
The Milwaukee Bucks notched yet another victory against the Detroit Pistons in this deja vu matchup, 110-101.
NBA.com Box Score
Facing the Detroit Pistons for the third time in six games isn’t exactly a recipe for a game to remember, and tonight didn’t disappoint in that regard. This one’s heading out of the memory banks the second my head hits the pillow. The first half was much of the domination we’ve grown accustomed to this past week, with the Bucks leaping out to a 58-47 halftime lead that was closer than it should’ve been after a pesky Pistons performance.
Detroit continued to make this game just close enough until late in the fourth that Bud kept most of his starters in there to finish it out. No one player needed to dominate the box score, but the team found success through balanced scoring from the starters and a boost from the bench. The Bucks are about to face three quality opponents in a row, Dallas, Brooklyn and the Lakers, so banking any and all wins is paramount as they try to chase the top Eastern Conference seed. Especially in light of Brooklyn’s move to trade for James Harden. They’ve taken care of business since the calendar turned to 2021 against the lower echelon of their division.
Stat That Stood Out
22 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists for Cheap Giannis Antetokounmpo Jersey. His second triple-double of the season, Giannis’s all-around stat line showed his willingness to defer to teammates, and more importantly their ability to pay it off. There were plenty of dishes to the corner that led to open triples, and it was surprisingly the rebound category that Giannis had to chase down the stretch. At least he didn’t play the most minutes of all the starters.
On the court, the Nets will give the Bucks a run for their money in trying to come out of the Eastern Conference because of the sheer amount of talent on their roster. However, these matchups will also have a heavily featured off the court storyline between former MVP winners.
The Milwaukee Bucks better get used to seeing the Brooklyn Nets now and in the future after they went all-in to reportedly acquire James Harden.
Of course, a small angle in the Bucks’ looming rivalry with the Nets is the contentious rivalry had between fellow MVPs in Harden and Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, who have combined to win the last three MVP awards. The feud between the two has bubbled up over the last 18 months, especially after Antetokounmpo took home his first MVP honor.
The two had thrown several verbal haymakers at each other since then, most notably when Harden said, “But I wish I could run and be seven feet and just run and dunk. Like, that takes no skill at all. I’ve got to actually learn how to play basketball and how to have skill. I’ll take that any day.”
This came after Antetokounmpo elected not to select Harden in the 2020 NBA All-Star Draft because he wanted “somebody who’s going to pass the ball.” The feud has since died down, and Harden actually listed the Milwaukee Bucks as one of his preferred trade destinations before this move, so perhaps he patched things up with Antetokounmpo behind closed doors.
Nevertheless, that history will certainly get brought up in each game these two teams face off. Even setting aside everything that has transpired off the court involving the two superstars, this is going to be a headline-heavy matchup in the Eastern Conference. After the Bucks’ 110-101 win over the Detroit Pistons, Antetokounmpo labeled the Nets as a powerhouse in the wake of them making the move for Harden.
Giannis’ reaction to Brooklyn acquiring James Harden: “It’s an amazing move by Brooklyn. Obviously they got better, way better.”
Called them a powerhouse in the East and says “that’s tough.”
— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) January 14, 2021
Antetokounmpo is certainly right as these are arguably the two most talented teams in the conference, and it will not be long before they go toe to toe for the first time. It is truly going to be a fantastic matchup when these two teams face off on MLK Day this coming Monday, and there will be no shortage of firepower on the floor for both teams.
NEXT: The 3 keys behind the Bucks’ league-leading offense
While both the Bucks and the Nets have plenty to iron out as they both vie for an NBA title this season, they will get very used to seeing each other over the course of this 2020-21 season. And this now gives the Bucks one more hurdle to overcome in their quest for a title.