Game Seven, the best two words in sports. On Saturday night in Brooklyn, two Eastern Conference contenders will be thrown into a cauldron-like atmosphere, where palms get a little sweatier, seats get a little hotter, and the weight of expectation may suffocate you. It’s where legends are made, and where the brightest of stars can be made to look like mortals. The stage is set, but first, let’s rewind to how we got here.
The Best Two Words In Sports: Game Seven
Kevin Durant’s Moment
In the early stages of Game 5, the Bucks came out like a house on fire. Connecting on a multitude of 3-pointers to give themselves a commanding 16-point lead at the half.
Then Kevin Durant just ruined it. He mocked Milwaukee’s defense, hitting jump-shot after jump-shot. Durant didn’t even seem to feel PJ Tucker’s physicality. He didn’t even see Giannis Antetokounmpo’s height and athleticism; partially, because for some reason, the former defensive player of the year didn’t even attempt to guard him.
There’s a reason the Nets laid it all on the line to acquire Durant in the summer of 2019. We were reminded of this very reason in Game 5. With Kyrie Irving out due to an ankle sprain picked up in Game 4, and James Harden, physically limited: Durant put Brooklyn on his back, carving out one of the best performances in playoff history in the process.
If you had any remaining doubts. If you somehow still believed that his greatness was simply, a by-product of his past and present all-star teammates; Durant simply mocked those notions with every passing jump-shot he drained. Finishing with 49 points on 16 of 23 shooting along with 17 boards and 10 assists.
Khris Middleton Responds
Shell-shocked and disorientated after one of the most epic collapses in playoff history; the Bucks had little to no time to stomach their gut-wrenching defeat. A two-day turnaround before they were thrown right back into the fire. The Bucks needed to find a way to climb out of the hole they had buried themselves in after Game 5. They desperately needed something special to lift them up, and that’s exactly what they got in the form of Khris Middleton.
Middleton did a little bit of everything to force Game 7. He was assertive, decisive, and aggressive throughout. Game 6 was an exceptional display of Middleton’s underrated scoring prowess. Every time it seemed as though Brooklyn had found some momentum, Middleton swiftly counter-punched with a timely bucket. He finished with a playoff career-high 38 points on 11 of 16 shooting along with 10 rebounds and 5 steals: a big-time performance on a big-time stage.
The Stage is Set for Game Seven
Game 7 is Milwaukee’s chance to disrupt Brooklyn’s rapid ascent and propel themselves closer to clinching their first title since 1971. Two-time MVP Antetokounmpo made it clear that it was a Championship he craved when he inked a super-max deal to stay in Wisconsin last summer; vowing to do ‘whatever it takes’ to be a Champion.
Recent playoff failures may act as added motivation for the Bucks. They blew the doors off the 2019-19 season, 60 wins and the number one seed clinched; but then proceeded to lose four straight games in the Eastern Conference Finals and were unceremoniously sent home. Subsequently, they returned in 2019-20 season, again with the best record in the East, only to be embarrassingly swept out of the playoffs by the Miami Heat.
Nevertheless, they licked their wounds and vowed that this year would be different. With the series tied at 3-3, and destiny in their own hands, the stage is set. This is the moment they have been waiting for.
On the other hand, this is the first journey towards basketball’s mountain top for the newly assembled Big 3. The sheer offensive talent of the Nets aims to overwhelm and eventually suffocate a team. However, with one star out injured, and the other significantly hobbled, their offensive arsenal will severely be compromised heading into Game 7. Luckily for Brooklyn, their one remaining weapon just happens to be arguably the best player in the world.
So here we are. Game Seven, the two most beautiful words in sport. A one-off elimination that will see one team sent home in heartbreak, and the other get to continue their quest towards an NBA Championship. The stage is set, enjoy it, folks.
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