No Kyrie Irving. James Harden played but couldn't run - jogging was literally his maximum last night. Harden and Harris combined for 10 points on 3/21 shooting, 1/15 from 3. KD had to play 48 minutes, and The Beard was out there for 46. Despite all that, the Milwaukee Bucks managed to lose. Remember what Barkley said before the game?
“If the Milwaukee Bucks lose this series without James Harden for the entire series, now no Kyrie, this will be one of the biggest choke jobs in basketball history.”
Charles Barkley, Insde the NBA
If you think that was rough, you are in for a (delightful) surprise. After the Bucks managed to lose Game 5 with all those stats I mentioned, Sir Charles really took the gloves off. Kevin Durant had one of the greatest Playoff performances ever, but it still feels more like a Bucks loss than a Nets win. In short, this was a total failure, from coaching decisions (all the standard Bud issues) to Milwaukee players making horrible decisions on the court. That's why Barkley would go medieval on them.
“I had two great coaches in high school. When we played like crap on the road, they wouldn't stop at a fast food joint on the way home. I wouldn't feed them dudes on the plane. I'm serious. I'm not feeding them. That was embarrassing for basketball. You could tell they were gonna lose that game at halftime. ... When you do dumb stuff, and it works, you keep doing dumb stuff.”
Charles Barkley, Inside the NBA
That last part was referring to the coaching staff. Barkley pointed out that for the entire series, the Bucks have been killing it in the paint. Makes sense when the Nets' big man is Jeff Green, and you have Brook Lopez on the roster. Yet, the Bucks still launch a lot of threes because "that's how they play." Blind faith is never good, and that's exactly what the Bucks are suffering from — zero adjustments to what's happening on the court.
Harden could barely run, yet the Bucks didn't exploit that for a moment. Giannis was posting Harden up, and James waved off help defense and defended him 1 on 1 because Harden knew a fadeaway baseline jumper was coming his way. A jumper Giannis missed. If you have a limited Harden willing to take you 1 on 1, anything but a drive to the basket is a horrible decision. The final play of the game encapsulated everything wrong with the Bucks, conceptually and mentally.
The Bucks were down 2 and had possession of the ball. Middleton had a drive to the rim but passed up the shot and passed to Giannis. The two-time MVP fumbled the ball, and it was a wrap. First of all, Middleton had to take that shot but shied away from the moment. Then, the decision to pass it to Giannis was bad, and Barkley explained why.
“You know why he fumbled that ball? Because he was in a hurry because he knew their were gonna foul him. That's exactly what happened, no doubt in my mind. When you rush like that, you're thinking about getting fouled.”
Charles Barkley, Inside the NBA
Giannis' free throws are a problem, and while you expect better from a leader on a title contender, everyone has a weakness - Shaquille O'Neal comes to mind. But then you prepare end of game situations factoring that in. So it can't be a surprise teams will want to foul Giannis. This was a complete failure, from the coaching staff to the players.
The Bucks still have a chance to move on to the next round, but this is far from a championship team. There are 82 game teams, and there are 16 game teams. Currently, the Bucks are cemented in the 82 game group.
Want to stay up to date with the latest news and reactions? Follow our exclusive NBA news feed for more HERE.