D'Angelo Russell
(Mary Altaffer/AP Photo)

The Brooklyn Nets took advantage of the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday without Giannis Antetokounmpo in the lineup.

  • Brooklyn Nets 133 (40-40)
  • Milwaukee Bucks 128 (59-21)
  • NBA, Final, Box Score
  • Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI

The Brooklyn Nets are in the home stretch of the season and on Saturday, they stepped up in a major way. Brooklyn held a lead over the Milwaukee Bucks for the majority of the game, but Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe staged a comeback to nearly snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat.

But D’Angelo Russell and Joe Harris wouldn’t let that happen. In the waning moments, that duo made the winning plays necessary to knock off the first-place Bucks.

First, it was Harris knocking down an in-rhythm three after an offensive rebound from Brooklyn. That gave the Nets a 131-128 lead. On the next possession, Brook Lopez was switched onto Russell and the All-Star took advantage of the mismatch.

Russell finished the night with 25 points and 10 assists. This game marks the 12th time Russell has put up 20-10 this season. He raced out to a ridiculous first quarter, knocking down all five of his shots and scoring 12 points.

Milwaukee countered by throwing more double teams and traps at Russell, but that’s when he started looking for his teammates. As a result, the lefty shot 10-for-15 from the floor by taking what the defense gave him.

Caris LeVert left his imprint on this victory as well. The shooting guard tallied 24 points off the bench on just 12 shots. He was a sparkling 4-for-5 from three-point range.

When Russell has that second ballhandler who can break down the defense, it opens up so much for Brooklyn’s offense. Whether it’s LeVert or Dinwiddie, Russell needs someone to be the Robin to his Batman.

Of course, it helps when Milwaukee is missing their best player and the potential MVP. Giannis Antetokounmpo missed the game with left calf soreness.

The win pushes the Nets to 40-40 on the season with games against the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat left on the schedule. Technically, Brooklyn now controls their own destiny because if they beat Miami (38-41), they can’t possibly finish anywhere below the Heat.

As it stands, Brooklyn, Miami, the Detroit Pistons (39-40), and the Orlando Magic (40-40) are battling for three playoff spots.

There’s no time to rest for head coach Kenny Atkinson’s squad. They travel to Indiana on Sunday for one of the tougher back-to-backs they’ve seen this season. That being said, they’re off to a good start.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.