Nets vs. Bucks Odds
|Moneyline||+110 / -135|
|Time||Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Monday and via BetMGM|
Two contenders to win a championship face each other in the second game of this two game mini-series after the Milwaukee Bucks evened the season series at 1 win apiece against the Brooklyn Nets.
With the season tiebreaker on the line and the Nets relinquishing control of the 1 seed to Philadelphia, this game is even more important than Sunday’s Bucks win.
Who will take this rubber game? Let’s break it down.
The Nets have not listed anyone on their injury report as of Monday night, although we know James Harden will continue to miss with his hamstring injury. Nicolas Claxton had cleared the league’s health and safety protocols for Sunday’s game, but Steve Nash declined to play him. We’ll see if he sees the floor in this rematch.
Brooklyn was clearly hampered by the Bucks’ defense when these two played on Sunday. The Nets were limited to just a 52.1% eFG% and turned the ball over on 15.8% of their possessions, per Cleaning the Glass. These were both statistical downturns for Brooklyn, and it’s tough to win any game when you commit 16 turnovers in 48 minutes.
However, there’s significant room for improvement if Brooklyn adjusts. Aside from the turnovers, the Nets took just five attempts from the corner (5% of their shots). That’s an area that Milwaukee allows opponents to shoot 43.1% from, meaning it’s somewhere the Nets can try to exploit.
While the Nets moved rather freely in the first half as they pushed the pace in transition, they struggled in the halfcourt, scoring just 89.8 points per play. It was obvious that they missed Harden’s playmaking ability in the fourth quarter. While Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant can create their own shot and have the ability to facilitate for others, it’s not effective offense to essentially play 2-on-5 down the stretch.
The Bucks will be without Jeff Teague and Axel Toupane for tonight’s game. Bobby Portis, who missed Sunday’s game due to illness, is now listed as probable.
Milwaukee played well on Sunday and was led by a herculean effort by the two-time reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and his 49 points. Besides that, the Bucks were able to efficiently score in not only the halfcourt but by forcing so many turnovers (16), they created more scoring opportunities for themselves.
One surprising stat is that the Bucks average 20.7 free throws per game and only got to the stripe 12 times on Sunday. I expect them to continue attacking the Nets and force more opportunities from the charity stripe.
The Bucks’ strength lies in their ability to play off each other, and they’ve now been working on switching rather than strictly relying on drop coverage for their defense. Without Harden to facilitate the Nets’ offense and find holes in the Bucks’ defense, I expect them to slow down Brooklyn’s two stars.
This is the third and final matchup between these two teams in the regular season and with the season series tied at 1, this could settle a tiebreaker if the Bucks continue to climb the standings.
If Harden was playing, I’d look at the Nets because I believe his presence was missing when the game slowed down in the fourth quarter and the Nets fell into a very predictable pattern as they solely relied on Durant and Irving to finish the game.
While you can’t always depend on Antetokounmpo to shoot 50% from 3-point range, the Bucks can lean on their top-10 defense to slow down the Nets.
This will be close but I’ll lay the two points on the home favorite, a spot where the Bucks are 19-10 against the spread this season.
Pick: Bucks -2