This Saturday the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets open what should be a very entertaining second series. The Bucks swept the defending Eastern Conference champions Heat in the first round while the Nets moved past the Celtics in five games.
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. Check the results of the regular season meetings between the Bucks and Nets:
Nets 125, Bucks 123 on January 18th
Bucks 117, Nets 114 on May 2nd
Bucks 124, Nets 118 on May 4th
The Nets have a talented trio! Durant, Irving and Harden epitomize what pure hoopers are. To me, Harden is the MVP of the Nets and Durant and Irving have never played with someone like him. Harden just needs the ball and for everyone to get out of his way so he can cook his opponents. There’s no need for screens, he can get buckets by himself over and over again like he did with the Rockets. KD and Kyrie are like that too!
For the Bucks, keep an eye on Jrue Holiday (plus-2.8 Offensive Box Plus/Minus), He is the half-court creator this team needed for years and he can do wonders against the Nets if they empower him, just like in the first round against the Heat. The eye test is there, Jrue Holiday has been an underrated star in the NBA for a few years. He does it all and his two-man game with Giannis can be lethal against the Nets. Holiday is a smart point guard who can have the defense guessing at all times.
The Bucks are built to make sure Giannis Antetokounmpo can play in more space and be surrounded by knockdown shooters. This way he can attack the paint at will and choose between scoring himself or passing the ball to the shooters around him. This makes Holiday and Khris Middleton extremely important in this series, as the Nets use offense as their defense. Game 1 will take place on Saturday at 7:30 PM ET at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Team to Win (Regular Time)
• Milwaukee Bucks: 2.46
• Brooklyn Nets: 1.61
• Milwaukee Bucks: +4.5 (1.85)
• Brooklyn Nets: -4.5 (1.96)
• Over 239.5 (1.89)
• Under 239.5 (1.92)
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 and can put up a fight. 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 keep up with a healthy Nets team or not!
The Over is 4-1 in Milwaukee’s last five road games, 7-2 in Milwaukee’s last nine games following a straight up win, 8-2 in Brooklyn’s last 10 home games against a team with a winning road record and 9-4 in the last 13 meetings in Brooklyn.
For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo is projected to finish with 27.8 points, 11.0 rebounds and 6.6 assists, making 10.3 field goals in 20.0 attempts.
For the Nets, Kevin Durant is expected to score 25.3 points with 6.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists, making 8.8 field goals in 15.9 attempts.
Four-star (out of four) AccuScore hot trend pick on the total in this one. Average score in simulations is Milwaukee Bucks 122.8 to Brooklyn Nets 122.2.