Someday a creative novelist or screenwriter might conjure an alternate reality in which Kevin Durant had smaller feet or had moved his left big toe just so.
Call it “Sliding Durant” as an homage to “Sliding Doors,” a 1998 film that explores life’s vagaries and randomness.
That story hinged on the timing of a closing set of subway doors, so it is not difficult to imagine it being relocated from London to Brooklyn.
The problem for the Nets at Barclays Center on Tuesday night was that for now there only is the harsh narrative of the original story.
And the reality is the Nets and Bucks have gone in drastically different directions in the 20 months since Game 7 of the 2021 Eastern Conference semifinals.
That was the night at Barclays when Durant appeared to have hit a game-winning three-point shot in the final seconds before replays showed his foot barely touching the arc.
The game went to overtime, where the Bucks won, 115-111.
Milwaukee went on to win the NBA championship, and it remains an Eastern Conference power, one with laudable roster stability.
The Bucks entered Tuesday with a 14-game winning streak, the best record in the NBA at 43-17 and one of the best players on Earth in Giannis Antetokounmpo.
And just to rub it in, Jimmy and Dee Haslam reportedly agreed on Monday to buy a piece of the Bucks that values the team at $3.5 billion.
The Nets? You might have read or heard about their recent problems.
Long story short, Durant no longer plays for them, nor does Kyrie Irving or James Harden or Julius Erving or pretty much any other player casual fans might know.
Entering Tuesday, they had lost four of five games since the trade of Durant to the Suns became official, and they face a stretch of seven out of eight on the road.
It begins on Wednesday against the surging Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Things change quickly in the NBA.
“I think one of the things that’s great about our league is that it’s always changing,” Mike Budenholzer, the Bucks coach in 2021 and now, said before the game.
“No doubt the respect for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving is very, very high in our locker room and across the league. When players like that change teams, it changes the look and feel of things.
“But there are a lot of great teams in this league, a lot of great players. You have to be ready to go every night.”
The last time the teams met, in Brooklyn on Dec. 23, the Nets won, 118-110.
Durant scored 24 points and Irving had 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Ben Simmons nearly had a triple double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Simmons still is on the team, but he sat out Tuesday with a knee injury.
The roster and rotation have been remade since the departures of Irving and Durant, with four starters new to the team.
So what if Durant had made that three-point shot and the Nets rather than the Bucks had gone on to win the 2021 NBA title? It hardly is a far-fetched notion.
Might Harden, Irving and Durant still be here? Would the Bucks admirable roster look like it does now? Would they be worth $3.5 billion?
It is an entertaining exercise in counterfactual storytelling. But it is painfully far from reality for Nets fans.
Notes & quotes: Simmons (left knee soreness) will be out Wednesday but could be back Friday against the Celtics. Coach Jacque Vaughn said there has been “zero” talk of shutting down Simmons for the season . . . G Edmond Sumner missed the game for personal reasons . . . F Yuta Watanabe (back) sat out.