On Tuesday, the Milwaukee Bucks received their rings to commemorate the 2021 NBA championship. Even after all the excitement, they showed that they were more than ready for next year.

Milwaukee won the matchup with Brooklyn Nets, a team heavily in favor to win the Eastern Conference title. They then battled hard for the second half.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 32 points with 14 rebounds and seven assists, and Khris Middleton added 20 points and nine boards on a night when the third member of their star triumvirate, Jrue Holiday, left late in the first half with a heel contusion and did not return.

Holiday was unable to attend, so Jordan Nwora (second-year player) took over. His busy night consisted of 27 minutes, 15 point, and a block by Kevin Durant in the fourth quarter. This led to a transition into a 3-pointer at the other end.

Durant’s famous toe-toe allowed the Bucks win overtime in Game 7 in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Durant started quiet but ended up with 32 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.

Patty Mills (21) was signed as a new player and made all seven shots from 3 point range. This helped the Nets to linger. James Harden only managed 6-of-16 shooting, but he finished with 20 points and eight boards.

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Milwaukee’s lead was a healthy 19 points with less than five minutes to go before half (and still a 13-point lead when Holiday departed), but the Nets closed the quarter on a 16-5 run to pull within 66-59 at the break. While the Nets shot 54% and 58% in the opening half from 3-point range respectively, the Bucks managed a drop in those percentages following the break.

Nwora made use of every minute on his floor, finishing with six rebound and 6-of-13 from the line. Holiday scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting.

Grayson Allen started the game and scored 10 points. There were so many faces from the 2021 championship team. The Bucks were leading 106 to 93 with eight minutes remaining when Harden’s steal led to a Nwora 3 pointer. This felt like a decisive blow.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 32 points in the Bucks' season-opening win.

George Hill wasn’t in the Bucks team last year but is still an identifiable face. His 0-of-3 shot was good for one point. Pat Connaughton, who hit 9-of-13 shot attempts and scored 20 points in 2021 playoffs, showed once again the talent that makes him dangerous.

Antetokounmpo misses his first three shots. However, he recovered the last one to register the Bucks first point of the new season. It was 15-8 when he hit a wide open dunk, thanks to Middleton’s rifled football pass from Brooklyn’s paint. The Nets were rocking and had to call timeout at 7:14.

Milwaukee’s lead increased to 18-8 after Antetokounmpo scored his first three-pointer (he was 1-of-4 behind the arc). Connaughton completed the feat with another triple, giving the Bucks a 21-8 advantage.

Brooklyn had pulled within five points at 10:07 in the second half. Nwora, however, responded by scoring a triple to the opposite end. This was the start of a 16-3 run which put the Bucks in complete control.

If the predictions of national writers are correct, it won’t end in the first high-profile meeting between these two teams. The defending champion Bucks and the talent-rich Nets will be seen as the clear top two at the conference.

Source: USAToday.com

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