More importantly, after a regular season in which Durant, Harden and Irving played just eight games together, they spent the past couple of weeks practicing and playing, including in a hostile environment in Boston, invaluable time that will only aid Brooklyn as it heads into a titanic showdown with Milwaukee – a series that could become this year’s de facto NBA Finals.
Series key: Can Brooklyn handle Milwaukee’s size advantage?
In a series boasting so many stars, most would assume the most important matchup would be some combination of the six top players – Durant, Harden and Irving for Brooklyn and Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Holiday for Milwaukee – going against one another. Embiid did not play in the Game 5 closeout against the Washington Wizards because of the injury. According to Spotrac’s injury-tracking data, Atlanta players combined to miss 278 games this season, fourth most in the league and most for any team in the 2021 playoffs.