The Brooklyn Nets locked up the 2-seed in the East on Sunday, dominating the Cavaliers in a 123-109 that secured that second spot and a matchup with the winner of the first play-in game between Washington and Boston. That also locks the Milwaukee Bucks into the 3-seed and a highly anticipated rematch in a playoff series with the 6-seed Miami Heat.
It was a game that went according to the script, albeit with a brief moment of concern for Brooklyn when Kevin Durant got elbowed in the face by Collin Sexton (who was tossed for a Flagrant 2). Happily for the Nets, Durant didn’t need to leave the game, staying in to help push Brooklyn out to a 20-plus point advantage behind a 23-point, 13-assist, 8-rebound effort from the superstar forward — and the finish on the play of the year for the Nets.
Mike James deflection.
Blake behind-the-back outlet.
Kyrie touch pass.
Mike James off the backboard.
What. A. Sequence. pic.twitter.com/NWrK2sboXz
— NBA (@NBA) May 17, 2021
While Durant had the biggest stat line of the night, it was Kyrie Irving whose efficiency fro the game helped push him over an historic threshold, becoming the ninth player to record a 50/40/90 season after going 7-of-11 from the field and a perfect 3-of-3 from deep, moving him just over 40 percent for the season. His final shooting splits are 50.6 percent from the field, 40.2 percent from three, and 92.2 percent from the free throw line.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) May 16, 2021
History for @kyrieirving.
KAI has become the ninth player in NBA history to average at least 50% FG, 40% 3P and 90% FT over a whole season 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/aXYymRTvtQ
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) May 17, 2021
It’s a tremendous achievement from Irving and is representative of the incredible growth he’s shown in terms of becoming an efficient scorer over the course of his career. Once thought of as a bit of a chucker, Irving has become an elite three-level scorer and when sharing the floor with fellow superstars is more than happy to play his role and find shots within the flow. He can still take over, as he’s shown plenty of times in the past, but the way all of the Nets stars work off of each other and play within each other is remarkable, with Irving’s historic shooting season offering the best example of how that works in their favor as a team and individually.