The Nets came into Sunday evening needing a win to lock up the 7-seed in the East, which would mean a matchup with the winner of the Celtics-Wizards play-in game rather than the Miami Heat in the first round. Given that they were playing host to the Cleveland Cavaliers, there was little expectation of anything less, but still they had to take care of business with a near full complement of stars, as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were in the lineup — James Harden sat out as he works back from his hamstring injury.
The first half went according to plan for the Nets, as they jumped out to an 11-point lead at halftime, capped off by one of the highlights of the season with this wild sequence that saw Blake Griffin flick the ball backwards to Kyrie Irving, who fed Mike James for an off-the-backboard alley-oop to Kevin Durant.
Every angle.#BrooklynTogether pic.twitter.com/O54w5DAFoP
— NBA (@NBA) May 17, 2021
Durant got off to a perfect 8-for-8 start to the game, dominating inside and out, but in the third quarter there was a bit of a scare when Collin Sexton caught him in the jaw with an elbow on a drive.
Collin Sexton has been charged with a flagrant 2 foul and consequently ejected from the game.#CavsNets | #BeTheFight pic.twitter.com/L2XTdhGhhc
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) May 17, 2021
The referees initially called a foul on Durant, but reviewed the play and overturned the foul and ejected Sexton for a Flagrant 2, as he brought his elbow way up high and struck Durant in the face with what they deemed to be a non-basketball move. Sexton had a team-high 16 points when he was tossed and any slim hopes Bucks fans of seeing the Cavs upset the Nets seemingly went out the window with it.