Kevin Durant declines to lament Nets’ injury woes in reaction to Bucks winning NBA title
The Brooklyn Nets pushed the Milwaukee Bucks to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals despite not having James Harden and Kyrie Irving available for considerable stretches during the series.
Despite the built-in excuses at the ready for Kevin Durant in light of injuries to two-thirds of the Nets’ Big Three during the postseason, the superstar — currently in Tokyo as a member of the U.S. men’s team for the Summer Olympics — declined to embrace such rhetoric while reacting to the Bucks winning an NBA title on Tuesday night.
“Not really,” Durant said after Team USA practice in Tokyo, which equated roughly to 5 a.m. Wednesday morning back in New York, via the New York Post. “I mean, you played (to win). No moral victories you know? You only want to be last team standing in the NBA Finals, in the playoffs. So, no.
“I mean, we understand how good we are, and our goal wasn’t just to push the Bucks: Our goal was to win it. Unfortunately we didn’t. But congrats to the Bucks. They’re an amazing team who fought through a lot these last few years to get to this point, so nothing but respect for them.”
Harden went down with a hamstring injury only seconds into the Nets’ series with the Bucks. The superstar did return in Game 5, but was not able to play at his usual level due to the setback. Irving, meanwhile, missed the final three games of the series due to an ankle sprain suffered in Game 4.
Even with the injury issues for Harden and Irving, the Nets nevertheless came within centimeters of upending the Bucks in Game 7 of the teams’ series. With the Nets trailing 109-107 with just six seconds left, Durant just barely stepped on the three-point line on a converted shot.
The referees correctly ruled it a two-point shot, and the Nets went on to lose 115-111 in overtime. The Bucks rolled on, defeating the Atlanta Hawks in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals before upending the Phoenix Suns in the Finals, again in six games, to win the franchise’s first NBA championship in 50 years.
NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, fresh off a 50-point performance in Game 6, seemingly made note of how the Nets constructed a super-team but still came up short while he stayed with Bucks and won it all.
“I wanted to get the job done. But that’s my stubborn side. It’s easy to go somewhere and go win a championship with somebody else,” Antetokounmpo said after Tuesday night’s title-clinching win. “It’s easy.
“I could go to…I don’t want to put anybody on the spot, but I could go to a superteam and just do my part and win a championship. But this is the hard way to do it, and this is the way we chose to do it. And we did it. We f—–g did it.”
Concerning how things disappointingly shook out in the postseason for the Nets, perhaps Durant can take solace in how his squad are early favorites (+210) to win the NBA title next season, according to DraftKings, as shared by NBA.com. The Greek Freak and the Bucks, meanwhile, come in at No. 3 (+800), while the Los Angeles Lakers (+450) currently occupy the second slot on the list.