James Harden returned for the Brooklyn Nets in Game 5 against the Milwaukee Bucks but looked far from himself, shooting 1 of 10 from the field, 0 of 8 from three-point range, and scored just 5 points. There is currently no timetable for Kyrie Irving’s return. The Nets will not win the championship without Harden or Irving. So who is the best remaining team besides a healthy Brooklyn squad?
I am going to start with the team that is giving them the most trouble right now. The Milwaukee Bucks are a dangerous team that nearly put the Nets in an elimination game but allowed a come-from-behind win in Brooklyn.
I think it is going to be tough for the Bucks to win a Game 7 in Brooklyn, especially with Harden getting more time to recover from the hamstring injury.
Without having to worry about all three of the Nets’ superstars, the Bucks looked like the better team for all of games 3, 4, and 3 quarters of game 5. However, Kevin Durant was unstoppable and took over in the 4th quarter to boost the Nets to victory.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to have to take over guarding Durant if the Bucks want to win this series. The Bucks are also going to need more consistent play from their role players.
Outside of the Nets, the Bucks have the most all-around talent left in the league. They have players that can match up well at every position on the court.
Giannis and Khris Middleton can consistently drop 25+ on a nightly basis. I think if the Bucks can get by the Nets, they should be the favorites to win the title.
What a finals matchup this would be. The Phoenix Suns are filled with talent. The Suns looked unstoppable in a four-game sweep against the Denver Nuggets and the NBA‘s reigning MVP Nikola Jokic.
Devin Booker has been a nonstop bucket for this Suns team. He is averaging 28 points per game in the NBA playoffs so far. He has been able to score from three, on the drive, and from mid-range.
Chris Paul is returning to form after playing through a shoulder injury. It seems like Paul literally cannot miss from the mid-range. He gets to his spot in the lane and is constantly making a play. Whether it be a fadeaway or a kick out for a wide-open shot, once Paul is in the lane, it is trouble for the opposition. Right now, he has to follow the league’s health and safety protocol after CP3 tested positive for COVID-19.
Jae Crowder would be a great matchup defensively for Durant. Against the Los Angeles Lakers, Crowder harassed LeBron James in Round 1 and held Lebron in check for the most part.
If this Suns team can continue to shoot at a high level and take good shots, I think they are the best challenger to the Nets at the moment.
We’ll see what will transpire on both the Philadelphia 76ers-Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Clippers-Utah Jazz match-ups this week, as both series have the potential to reach the seventh game.