The Milwaukee Bucks are in their first Finals series through 46 years. PJ Tucker, who guarded Kevin Durant in the playoffs, has played his part.
It seems that this year, every team’s journey to the Finals has been a war of attrition. There wasn’t a single team among the 16 that made it to the playoffs which wasn’t injury-riddled. For many people, it has marred the competitive nature of this year’s playoff battles.
But for those who were out on court trying their best to win, there was no room for complaining. Basketball at the NBA level is an unforgiving, unrelenting job that tests the very best to the limit. Only those with an iron will and mental fortitude can execute at that level.
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PJ Tucker and his Milwaukee Bucks have been through their trials and tribulations in this run. They swept last year’s finalists and sworn Conference rivals Miami Heat in the first round.
But then they ran into the juggernaut who everyone expected to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy. Milwaukee got a huge chunk of good lunk thrown its way when James Harden and Kyrie Irving went down with injuries.
But it needed the team to still put together a monumental defensive effort to keep Kevin Durant at bay. KD, who played like an all-time great in this year’s playoffs, was guarded by one PJ Tucker.
PJ Tucker reveals his joy at beating Kevin Durant ahead of his first NBA Finals
Tucker and Kevin Durant go a long way back. This was made obvious to those viewers who noted Tucker and Wanda Durant jawing at each other in Game 7 of their series.
Tucker explained what it took from him to guard KD somewhat effectively and help his teammates. In an interview with Bucks beat writer Eric Nehm, the defensive ace said:
“I thought about the stuff I was doing with Houston this year, this season has just been a long year for me. To go from being a top team in the West to falling apart instantly and being the last one left (in Houston) and everything I went through with that, the transition, it was just a lot this season.”
After the Bucks beat the Nets, P.J. Tucker ended a long answer with a pause and a three-word sentence.
“I’m just happy.”
— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) July 6, 2021
“That battle with KD was just like that big, heavyweight fight. Just night after night, giving it all and being exhausted and just fighting and fighting. And just to come out on top of that after going through all of that plus that (matchup), that was that moment. That was that. You fought all night and then at the end of the day, you just want to be happy.”