The Eastern Conference semifinals are headed back to Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Nets will host the Milwaukee Bucks in a decisive Game 7 on Sunday after the Nets dropped Game 6 in Milwaukee on Thursday night, 104-89.
The Nets spent the night chasing their way out of an early deficit after quickly falling behind by 13 points and never quite got there. The last push — a 10-0 run early in the fourth quarter — got them within 82-77 with just under nine minutes to go, but the Bucks reeled off 14 straight points to stretch their lead to 19 points midway through the quarter.
“We were down four a couple times and they pushed it, I mean they responded after every run we made and we got to give them credit for that,” said Kevin Durant. “I think we were down early, we got ourselves back in the game we were down like 12, 15 and we got back it was 82-77, we fouled a 3-point shooter and that's when they kind of took control. So I felt like we were right there we just couldn't get over the hump.
Durant led the Nets with 32 points and 11 rebounds for his fifth double-double in six games in the series. James Harden had 16 points and seven assists and Blake Griffin scored 12 points with six rebounds.
Brooklyn quickly fell behind 18-5 before getting going offensively. It started with Durant working out of the post, first facing up into a jumper then spinning for a dunk. Griffin’s 3-pointer quickly had the Nets back within six and they went into the second quarter trailing 26-19.
Trailing 44-31, the Nets put together a 9-0 run starting with Griffin’s inside score, a Harden runner and 3-pointer, and then Griffin again with steal at midcourt for a layup that made it a 44-40 game. The Nets were down 53-48 before Khris Middleton closed the half with two 3-pointers to put the Bucks up by 59-48 at halftime. After starting the game shooting 2-for-9 and 1-for-6 from 3-point range, the Nets shot 50 percent both overall and from 3-point range over the final 18 minutes of the half.
Down 13 midway through the third quarter, the Nets cut the Milwaukee lead to five after Durant scored 10 straight Brooklyn points, with Harden then making 2-of-3 from the line to make it a 72-67 game. But the Bucks scored the final six points of the quarter to go into the fourth leading 78-67.
Milwaukee extended that into a 10-0 run and an 82-67 lead in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, but the Nets answered with a 10-0 run of their own — first Durant with a 3-pointer and a transition layup, then Joe Harris with a drive and a 3-pointer to make it 82-77 with 8:41 remaining.
That was as close as the Nets would get. Milwaukee responded with a 14-0 run to take a 96-77 lead with 6:26 to go in the game.
“We weren’t well tonight offensively,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “Out of rhythm, out of sync. We definitely didn’t play the way we wanted to play, the way we planned to play, and I would say that for the entire game. We had a couple stretches where we played okay, but we really didn’t play the way we wanted to play offensively. Defensively, we weren’t great either, but not a disaster. Just not a great game from us, we just didn’t have our best stuff tonight. And we’ve got a Game 7 on our home floor.”