James Harden suffered a right hamstring injury a minute into Game 1 against the Milwaukee Bucks, potentially dealing a devastating blow to the Brooklyn Nets. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving had other plans.
Durant scored 29 points and Irving added 25 as the Nets coasted past the Bucks 115-107 in Game 1 to send a loud statement across the league. Blake Griffin and Joe Harris proved to be capable supporting cast mates, contributing 18 and 19 points respectively. Giannis Antetokounmpo put in 34 for the Bucks, who were outmatched in the second half.
Milwaukee held its own for much of the first three quarters, but the Nets turned things on defensively every time the Bucks made a small dent in the deficit. Durant and Irving consistently hit big shots as Brooklyn closed the third period on a 26-15 run.
Harden left the building after being ruled out to receive further imaging on the hamstring. He missed a big chunk of the regular season with the injury after rushing back and aggravating it, meaning the Nets will be more cautious this time around. They know Durant, Irving and the role players can get the job done with Harden out. Another impressive component of Brooklyn’s victory was the team’s defense, considered a weak point entering the playoffs. The Nets forced 14 turnovers while only having eight themselves.
On the flip side, Antetokounmpo didn’t get much help. Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton combined for just 30 points on 13-41 shooting. Bryn Forbes, who got hot against the Miami Heat, went from 1-5 from deep. The Bucks shot 20 percent from behind the arc as a team.
Game 2 is Monday, June 7 in Brooklyn at 7:30 PM ET.