No James Harden, no problem for the Brooklyn Nets. They've been doing just fine without him around.
Despite the absence of Harden, who reaggravated a hamstring injury during Game 1 of their East semifinal series against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Nets haven't skipped a beat. Behind 54 points combined from Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Nets molly-whopped the Bucks, 125-86, on Monday night at Barclays Center to take a commanding 2-0 series lead.
According to FiveThirtyEight's projections, Brooklyn now has an 87-percent chance of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. So, is it safe to say this series is over? Are the Harden-less Nets still an inexorable force?
"You never want to go over-the-top after two games, but this thing looks like it's a wrap," NBA podcast host Josiah Johnson told The DA Show on Tuesday. "So, I think everybody else now is just competing to get reps, and we're going to just wait for KD to get his third championship... If the Nets keep playing basketball like this, KD is unstoppable right now, Kyrie is on another level, so, I don't think it looks good for the Bucks, unfortunately...
"Who's stopping [the Nets] in the West? Maybe the Clippers, maybe Kawhi and PG can muster up an effort. Maybe the Suns with that squad if CP3 can get that shoulder back healthy. But let's just be honest. Looking at how they've been playing the last two games -- up by nearly 50 points against the Bucks -- it's not looking good for anybody else... At any point, if you lose James Harden, if the Rockets lose James Harden like they did, they're now a lottery team. So, this team loses James Harden, and you can argue that they're playing better basketball, which is a wild thing to say.
"This team looks unstoppable right now. But like I said, it's only two games. Obviously, the Bucks are going back to Milwaukee now. We'll see if [head coach Mike Budenholzer] and that crew can get this team back together. Giannis has got to step up, a two-time MVP. You've got to start playing like an MVP, and that's just the bottom line."
Game 3 of their best-of-seven series will take place on Thursday night at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, with tipoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
The entire NBA conversation between Johnson and DA can be accessed in the audio and video players above.