With the way these last couple of seasons have played out, the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks are well on their way to building a rivalry in the Eastern Conference for years to come.
Both teams easily boast the two best players in the game today in Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The rivalry effectively began during the 2021 Eastern Conference semi-finals, when the Nets asserted their dominance over the Bucks during the first two games of the series, including a nearly 40-point blowout win in the second game.
However, a sprained ankle injury to Kyrie Irving in Game 4 of that series all of a sudden left the Nets shorthanded. It effectively forced James Harden to fight through a bad hamstring strain and feature in the last three games of the series.
KD had to be at his very best for the Nets to have a chance in the series, as he dropped a 49 point triple-double in Game 5 to help his team fight off the Bucks.
Unfortunately for Brooklyn, Milwaukee ended up winning the final two games of the series, but one can only wonder how different things would've shaken out for the Nets if KD just had his foot a few inches behind the 3-point line.
Who will come out on top in the playoffs?
If last Thursday was any indication, these two teams are pretty evenly matched, with an extra period needed to decide a winner.
Durant missed two game-winning shot attempts at the end of regulation and overtime, which gave Nets fans a familiar feeling to what they experienced last season.
Irving more than likely holds a grudge against this very team, as he hinted that he felt Antetokounmpo took him out on purpose when he got hurt last season.
When Kyrie is motivated, you're going to get the absolute best version of him with his all-around ability to create his own shots. When he's locked in, his creativity is off the charts.
Durant essentially lives and breathes basketball. He loves nothing more than to go out there and play the game. It becomes even more evident when he starts looking for his own shots and knocks them down with ease.
Antetokounmpo finally proved he can get it done in the postseason last year when he took home the Finals MVP Award. With the Nets having no answer for him inside, it's also going to open up space for Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday.
Both teams will have their strengths and weaknesses in this matchup, but if the Nets stay healthy, they have a legitimate chance to take down the Bucks this season.
Whoever wins this matchup will be the team that most likely ends up in the Finals.