Game 2 of the Milwaukee Bucks’ second-round series against the Brooklyn Nets looked a lot like Game 2 of Milwaukee’s series against the Miami Heat. Only this time, the Nets — sans James Harden — embarrassed the Bucks.
Brooklyn led from wire-to-wire and built a lead that crested at 49 points against Milwaukee. Kevin Durant toyed with Giannis Antetokounmpo. Even former Heat player Tyler Johnson showed he still has some Heat culture in him.
Yes, the Nets haven’t won a game on the road this series. But teams that go up 2-0 in an NBA playoff series go on to win 93.5 percent of the time. This series isn’t over, but if the Nets look this good without Harden, it could be soon.
This brings us to Miami. Brooklyn is trying to replicate what the Golden State Warriors did from 2015 to 2019 (or the Heat did from 2011 to 2014) — amass a level of talent that leads to multiple Finals appearances and championships. Other franchises tried to challenge those superteams — the Indiana Pacers against Miami, the Houston Rockets against Golden State — but their efforts proved futile. The only hope for a premature downfall could be injuries to the Nets’ Big Three.
After trading for Chris Paul in 2017, then-Rockets GM Daryl Morey said, “It’s a weapons race in the NBA. You’re either in the weapons race or on the sidelines.” Teams in the Eastern Conference will either decide to rebuild and wait out the Nets’ triumvirate or enter the weapons race.
This Nets/Bucks series should send a message to Pat Riley and Andy Elisburg that simply signing Kyle Lowry with cap space won’t improve the Heat enough to challenge Brooklyn. It’s time to swing for the fences. Get creative and see if Damian Lillard wants to form a superteam of his own to win a title. Ask the Wizards what it would take to trade Bradley Beal. If the Los Angeles Clippers implode in the second round, give Kawhi Leonard a call.