Which superstar can you trust the most in Game 7?
This is normally a question reserved for LeBron James and whoever is fighting. However, the Game 7 meeting of the Eastern Conference semifinal between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night creates a different dynamic.
Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden have combined for four NBA MVP Awards. Kyrie Irving’s status remains in doubt due to an ankle injury. With a chance to reach the Eastern Conference finals in a postseason LeBron isn’t in, which superstar faces the most pressure? What franchise?
SN analyzes the past Game 7 performances of the four superstars to find an answer.
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Kevin Durant in Game 7
- Statistics: 33.3 points per game, 55.4% from field goals, 53.1% from 3 percentage points, 7.2 rpg., 3.0% from field shots in four games
Durant has played in four career 7s, and his teams are 3-1 in those games. Three of those games were with Oklahoma City. The Thunder beat the Grizzlies in the first round in 2014 and the Western Conference semifinals in 2015. Game 7 most remembered was a loss to Golden State in 2016, which led to Durant signing with the Warriors. Durant also led Golden State past Houston in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals in 2018. This is his first Game 7 with Brooklyn.
James Harden in Game 7
- Stats: 24.2 ppg., 39.2% FG%, 24.3% 3P%, 5.0 rpg., 5.2 apg across four games
Harden has also played in four career 7s, and his teams are 3-1. The Rockets lost to the Warriors in the 2018 Western Conference finals, a game in which Harden had 32 points but was 2 of 13 from 3-point range. Harden played Durant in Oklahoma City against Memphis in 2015, and led the Rockets to victories against the Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals in 2015 and the Thunder in the first round in 2020. Harden is dealing with a tendon injury of the hamstring, and that limited his effectiveness against Milwaukee in Games 5 and 6.
Kyrie Irving in Game 7
- Stats: 26 ppg., 43.5% FG%, 40.0 3P%, 6.0 rpg., 1.0 apg in one game
Irving scored the memorable triple in Game 7 of the NBA Finals against Golden State in 2016. That gave the Cavaliers an NBA championship, but it is the only Game 7 in which Irving has played. He missed a couple of Game 7s in the 2018 NBA Playoffs when he was with the Celtics against the Bucks and Cavaliers, and he could miss Game 7 against the Bucks again due to a sprained ankle.
Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 7
- Stats: 22 ppg., 41.2% FG%, 25.0 3P%, 9.0 rpg, 5.0 apg in one game
Antetokounmpo has played in just one Game 7; a first-round loss to Boston in 2018. The two-time MVP is seeking his second trip to the Eastern Conference finals in six seasons, coming off a 30-point, 17-rebound performance in Game 6.
Which star has the most at stake?
Harden and Irving excuse themselves from this conversation because they are both dealing with injuries. It all comes down to Durant and Antetokounmpo.
Both superstars have been prolific on the series. Durant is averaging 33.3 points and 10.8 rebounds, and Antetokounmpo is at 30.5 points and 12.8 rebounds. Durant won Game 5 with a spectacular 49-point effort. Antetokounmpo won Game 6.
Durant, however, has been there, has done that. If Antetokounmpo can beat Durant in this game, then that long-awaited advance to the NBA Finals will be possible.
There is more pressure on Giannis here.
Which franchise has the most at stake?
The Bucks have only reached the Eastern Conference Finals twice since 1986, and the franchise won its last NBA championship in 1971. Milwaukee is 2-8 in the seventh game.
The Nets made back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals in 2002-03, and they won a pair of ABA championships in 1974-76. The franchise is 1-2 all-time in Game 7 situations.
Giannis might be feeling the pressure with the Bucks, but the Super Team model has more pressure in this game. If the Nets can’t break through with Durant, Harden and Irving, what will the consequences be in 2021-22? Injuries are a big factor, but in a pick ’em situation, the home team should win.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.