Betting on the Brooklyn Nets to see off the Milwaukee Bucks in this NBA playoff series seemed like the smart move when these two teams were first matched up.
That prediction seemed even more likely when Brooklyn lost James Harden within the first minute of game 1, but still managed to win the first two games of the series. At that point, the Bucks looked like yesterday’s news.
But NBA basketball has a habit of posting surprises. And so it’s come down to the two sweetest words in NBA playoff vocabulary: game 7. All of our recommended sportsbooks love this as well and they're making as many betting markets available as they possibly can.
Having been two games ahead, the Nets squandered that lead in games 3 and 4 and suddenly looked like the underdog when they lost a second superstar, Kyrie Irving, to injury.
That was Kevin Durant’s cue to shine. With the Nets’ Big 3 now a much more lonely Big 1, KD put up a legendary 49-point, 17 rebound, 10 assist performance in game 5 to snatch back control of the series and knock the wind out of Milwaukee’s sails.
The Bucks could be thankful that Durant’s powerhouse performance overshadowed their own anaemic one: Milwaukee blew a 17-point lead that game and looked nothing like the championship contenders they aspire to be.
They did not repeat those mistakes in game 6. The Bucks came out aggressively, forcing several Brooklyn turnovers and catching them on the fast break as they worked to avoid a repeat of their game 5 meltdown. And avoid it they did, securing a dominant 104-89 win and sending the series back to Brooklyn for one final showdown.
Injury Trouble Looms
With Irving ruled out due to injury and Harden clearly still not back at his best following that game 1 hamstring injury, Brooklyn will once again look to Durant for leadership: KD leads his team in points, rebounds, blocks and assists this series. They will also need some of their role players - we’re looking at you, Joe Harris and Jeff Green - to step things up a gear and provide the support Durant needs.
A Closer Look
Milwaukee will need their own version of the Big 3 to post some big performances in Brooklyn this Saturday. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been on fire, averaging 30.5ppg and 12.8 rebounds. Khris Middleton has been dominant during home games, but Bucks fans will want to see an improvement from Jrue Holiday, who has shot just 39.6% from the field all series.
Holiday is not the only Buck who needs to adjust his aim. Milwaukee have been shooting poorly this series, managing just 28% from the three-point line versus Brooklyn’s 36.1%. Their game 6 shooting was especially painful to watch: Middleton was 5-of-8 from beyond the arc that game, but his teammates were just 2-for-25. Ouch.
One thing to keep in mind is that while Brooklyn’s stars are exceptional scorers, Milwaukee are a fantastic - and versatile - team on defense, with the ability to frustrate teams and then stun them in transition. Expect PJ Tucker to continue hounding Kevin Durant all over the court and Holiday to be tasked with putting an off-colour Harden even further off his game.
The Bucks are less effective at defending 3-point shots, though, with the Nets making 41.9% of their threes in their wins this series.
Brooklyn’s injury list means the Bucks have the stronger depth in this match-up. But the Nets have homecourt advantage, and in a series that has swung based on home and away performances, that may give them a crucial edge in game 7. If it’s anything like the rest of this series, expect a slow-paced, tight encounter that goes down to the wire.
If you're not sure what the numbers mean, this is a great time to check our two way betting guide.
NBA Betting Pick - Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets
Milwaukee Bucks +102
Brooklyn Nets -122
Milwaukee Bucks +1.5, -109
Brooklyn Nets -1.5, -113
Over 216 total points -110
Under 216 total points -112
Best Bet: Brooklyn Nets Moneyline at -122
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