This Thursday the Milwaukee Bucks try to avoid falling 0-3 when they host the Brooklyn Nets in Game 3 of their best-of-seven second round series. The Nets beat the Bucks 115-107 in Game and then crushed them 125-86 on Monday. And all this with James Harden (plus-13.2 Offensive Box Plus/Minus in the playoffs) playing just 43 seconds in the series opener because of a strained right hamstring.
Kevin Durant had 32 points for the Nets on Monday and he’s scored 25 or more points in six of the Nets’ seven playoff games. Kyrie Irving added 22 points for the Nets and Bruce Brown stepped up for Harden with 13 points and six rebounds. Mike James has also been a key contributor in Harden’s absence. He finished with 10 points off the bench in Game 2.
A lot has been said about the Brooklyn defense but you have to understand that their offense is their defense. The Nets manipulate the flow and pace of a game with their offensive tempo and the Bucks have to keep up. Whoever plays them ends up not playing defense, as the Nets’ system is set up so they run the opposing team out the gym. They turn games into a shootout with the hopes that they will score more efficiently than their opponent. The downfall is that the other team’s scorers can get hot.
A great offense like Brooklyn’s not only deflates great defense like Milwaukee’s, but it also shakes up their offense. The Bucks go back with nerves and fear and shock from what just happened defensively. They know if they miss here, it will happen again. Game 3 will take place on Thursday at 7:30 PM ET at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.
Team to Win (Regular Time)
• Brooklyn Nets: 2.35
• Milwaukee Bucks: 1.65
• Brooklyn Nets: +3.5 (1.85)
• Milwaukee Bucks: -3.5 (1.97)
• Over 234.5 (1.91)
• Under 234.5 (1.90)
Key Points to Consider
The Nets manipulate the flow and pace of a game with their offensive tempo and use a “match us” to survive pace. You need weapons and offensive chemistry to play like this and the Bucks have that, they just haven’t been able to keep up with them in this series. Remember that basketball is about who makes more shots and, in the playoffs that element is literal. Brooklyn turns games into shootouts hoping that they will score more efficiently than their opponent. It will come down to whether the Bucks can trade baskets with a healthy Nets team or not!
The Over is 4-0 in Brooklyn’s last four games against a team with a winning percentage above .600, 4-1 in Milwaukee’s last five home games following a road trip of seven or more days and 36-16 in Milwaukee’s last 52 games playing on two days’ rest.
For the Nets, Kevin Durant is projected to finish with 25.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists, making 8.8 field goals in 16.8 attempts.
For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo is expected to score 27.4 points with 11.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists, making 10.0 field goals in 18.5 attempts.
Two-star (out of four) AccuScore hot trend pick on the total in this one. Average score in simulations is Milwaukee Bucks 123.2 to Brooklyn Nets 116.3.