Giannis, Bucks remind Nets who runs the East

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MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - OCTOBER 19: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks and James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets walk backcourt during the season opener at the Fiserv Forum on October 19, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 19: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks and James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets walk backcourt during the season opener at the Fiserv Forum on October 19, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Fresh off his first NBA championship ring ceremony on opening night, Milwaukee Bucks star and reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo picked up where he left the league last season, dominating the sport.

Antetokounmpo casually collected 32 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in a 127-104 win over Kevin Durant, James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday in the NBA’s first game of the 2021-22 campaign, looking very much like a man in full control of his basketball powers. It was a resounding reminder that the road to a championship runs through Milwaukee, even if Brooklyn entered the season as odds-on favorites.

When last he played the Nets, Antetokounmpo went toe to toe with Durant in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, his Bucks emerging overtime victors. The series left us with some questions about who was the best player in the East, if not the league. And when last we saw Antetokounmpo on a court in earnest, he dropped 50 points in the title-clinching victory against the Phoenix Suns, submitting his answer.

Durant was one of only a few Nets engaged enough to match the intensity of a reigning champion riding the confidence of the franchise’s first banner-raising night in 50 years. He registered 32 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in a losing effort. Harden added a lackluster 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. 

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