brooklyn nets
Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant tried to put the Brooklyn Nets on his back in Game 7 against the Milwaukee Bucks, but his Herculean effort still wasn’t enough.

Danny Small

In the end, the Brooklyn Nets didn’t have enough firepower to beat the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games. Kevin Durant was operating on another plane of existence in this series, but it still wasn’t enough without Kyrie Irving and a half-speed James Harden.

Durant did all he could. Down two with seconds left in regulation, Durant drilled a fadeaway jumper that made jaws drop. Ice cold.

That shot sent the game into overtime and nearly punched Milwaukee’s flight to Cancun, the graveyard of NBA championship dreams. But Durant’s “big-ass foot” as he called it, was just on the three-point line. Inches away from a win.

Durant finished the night with 48 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. It was another monster game in a series that was filled with these types of outbursts. The future Hall of Famer averaged 35.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game in the series. Durant is not the reason why the Nets are done.

In fact, the Bucks deserve a ton of credit for coming back from down 3-2. Giannis Antetokounmpo matched Durant’s greatness in this series. There was no sweat on his brow in Game 7 with the season on the line. Although he was only 8-for-14 on free throws, he didn’t shy away from contact down the stretch.

It also helped that Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday hit big shots in crunch time despite having awful games up to that point.

Durant simply didn’t have that kind of backing from his teammates. Jeff Green turned the clock back and dropped 27 points in Game 5 to give Durant just enough help for the win. In Game 7, Harden fell one rebound and assist shy of a triple-double, but numbers can be deceiving.

The real stat to look at that sums up the Nets in this series: Joe Harris and James Harden were a combined 5-for-21 from deep. Harden’s injury clearly limited him, but Harris was a net-negative in this series. Harris, the three-point king of the NBA in two of the last three seasons, only shot 24.2% from deep in the last five games of this series.

Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s time to go out and burn his jersey like some yo-yo did for social media clout on Saturday night, but Harris has to be better. Brooklyn didn’t give him that massive contract to be a regular-season player.

Although injuries are a lame excuse, it’s hard to ignore what could have been for this Nets team. Had Irving and Harden been fully healthy, this series is much different. Most teams that have been bounced from the playoffs can make similar excuses though. In the end, Milwaukee finished the job.

But year one of this Brooklyn experiment was filled with ups and downs. They will make some tweaks to the roster, but the big three will be back next year.