Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks remind Brooklyn Nets who runs the East

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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.

© Provided by Yahoo! Sports Giannis Antetokounmpo kept James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets on his heels in the NBA’s season opener. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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.

Brooklyn looked old in the team’s season debut. Former All-Stars turned title-chasing mercenaries Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul Millsap finished with a combined seven points on seven shots in 44 minutes of action. Steve Nash prioritized 34-year-old James Johnson — on his sixth roster since February 2020 — over Bruce Brown, a younger and better option who the Nets leaned on for versatility last season.

Check back soon for more details.

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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