Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant put on a show Sunday as the former's Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Brooklyn Nets 117-114.
While Antetokounmpo finished with 49 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three blocks, he recognized going toe-to-toe with Durant, who posted 42 points and 10 rebounds, is a dangerous proposition during an interview with ESPN's Rachel Nichols.
"I was not going back and forth with him," he said. "KD's one of the greatest scorers to ever play the game. You cannot play that way. If you go back and forth with a guy like that, he's gonna score 50, 70."
The two All-Stars exchanged impressive plays, including when Antetokounmpo swatted Durant on a mid-range jumper late in the fourth quarter. Milwaukee pulled within 2.5 games of the Nets and Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference with the win but has just eight games remaining to make up that ground.
The Bucks will likely be the No. 3 seed and a daunting second-round opponent for whichever team does not land that No. 1 seed between the Nets and 76ers.
While it was an impressive victory for the Bucks, it's easy to feel alright about the outcome from Brooklyn's perspective.
After all, it took an unreal game from Antetokounmpo, James Harden on the sideline, Kyrie Irving going just 8-of-21 from the floor and a missed Durant three at the buzzer for the Bucks to win at home by just three points. It is easy to assume the Nets can close that three-point gap in the playoffs if Harden returns and Irving is slightly better.
Having to account for another one of the league's best players while still having to deal with Irving and Durant is quite the proposition for Milwaukee and the rest of the Eastern Conference.
That is especially true when Durant—one of the league's all-time great scorers—is as locked in as he was Sunday.