Tune-In Tidbits: TNT Saturday, June 5, 2021
The semifinals begin Saturday on TNT with Game 1 between the Bucks and Nets; here are five key stats to know about the matchup.
Brian Martin, for NBA.com
• This is a matchup of the first round’s top-ranked offense (Brooklyn, 128.0 points per 100 possession) against the first round’s top-ranked defense (Milwaukee, 95.4 points allowed per 100 possessions). Brooklyn already had the league’s top offense in the regular season (117.3) and took it up a level in the first round. Milwaukee ranked ninth in defense during the regular season (110.7) and made a huge leap in sweeping Miami in the first round. Milwaukee was the only Eastern Conference team to rank in the top 10 in both offense and defense during the regular season – joining Utah, Phoenix and the LA Clippers.
• Brooklyn’s five-game first-round series with the Celtics was the longest stretch that the Big Three has played together all season; their previous longest stretch had been three straight games in January shortly after the acquisition of Harden. With the 4-1 win over Boston, the Nets improved to 10-3 when the Big Three plays together. Against Boston, Durant, Irving and Harden combined to average 85.2 points, 21.0 rebounds and 16.4 assists per game, with Durant leading in scoring (32.6 ppg) and rebounding (7.4 rpg) and Harden leading in assists (10.6 apg) and plus/minus (15.2).
• Milwaukee (2-1) was one of seven teams to win the regular season series over Brooklyn, joining Dallas, Memphis, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Toronto and Washington. Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged 39.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.3 3-pointers made in three games against the Nets this season. It is the highest scoring average any player had against Brooklyn. Giannis’ 30.7 field goal attempts and 8.7 3-point attempts against Brooklyn were his highest shot attempts against any opponent by 3.7 FGA and 2.7 3PA.
• Kevin Durant was the only member of the Brooklyn Big Three to play in all three games against the Bucks this season. Durant averaged 34.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists, while posting 48.7%-52.0%-85.0% shooting splits. Harden had 34 points and 12 assists in his only appearance against the Bucks – and the only Brooklyn win against them – this season in January. Kyrie Irving averaged 29.0 points, 5.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals in his two games – both losses – against Milwaukee in early May.
• With Harden and Irving never playing together against the Bucks, the decision on whom Jrue Holiday would defend was easy to make. In two games without Harden, Holiday defended Irving for 13:54 of matchup time, allowing 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting, seven assists and three turnovers. In one game without Irving, Holiday defended Harden for 6:18 of matchup time and held him to three points on 1-for-5 shooting. On a night when Harden scored 34 points, only 8.8% of those points came in the 48.3% of offensive matchup time he spent going against Holiday.