The second round series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets concludes with Game 7 this Saturday. All the respect to James Harden and Khris Middleton
Forget Harden’s talent/mind, you really have to love the game of basketball to just play on one leg and deliver 16 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals in 40 minutes, hitting 3 of 6 3-point attempts!
The Nets didn’t lose games in the final three-five minutes in this series, it was actually in the first quarter. They had to crawl back from 12-15-point deficits and on Thursday they even cut it the deficit to five points before the Bucks put it away and won 104-89. Even in Game 5 those bad starts have made things more difficult.
The Bucks have been overlooked and criticized this season but this is the best Bucks team of the Giannis era. Khris Middleton is taking over games because he knows he’s the go to guy, ‘The Greek Freak’ still dominates but he also knows when to retreat, they have key role players like PJ Tucker, Bryn Forbes and Pat Connaughton, Jrue Holiday runs the point admirably and they’ve always defended well. Game 7 will take place on Saturday at 8:30 PM ET at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Team to Win (Regular Time)
• Milwaukee Bucks: 1.95
• Brooklyn Nets: 1.93
• Milwaukee Bucks: +1.5 (1.83)
• Brooklyn Nets: -1.5 (1.99)
• Over 215.5 (1.90)
• Under 215.5 (1.90)
Key Points to Consider
The difference between this Bucks team and previous ones is that Khris Middleton doesn’t defer anymore, he is the clear go to creator and he takes it upon himself to go get buckets in key moments. Middleton dropped 38 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in Game 6 and the Nets have to figure out how to contain either him or Giannis, who finished with 30 points and 17 rebounds on Thursday.
Kyrie Irving (plus-4.1 Offensive Box Plus-Minus) was around 40 percent of the Nets entire offense and once he went down, the team has been grinding. Durant has to go off like in Game 5 and Harden has to keep finding ways to contribute but they need Joe Harris to step up significantly, he can’t be just 1 of 4 from beyond the arc again. Jeff Green also has to play much better, he was the X-factor in Game 5 with 27 points on 7 of 8 from 3-point range on Tuesday but he regressed on Thursday with just five points on 2-for-9 from the field and 1-for-4 from distance. If the Nets get off to another double-digit deficit in Game 7, they will have a hard time winning. I do see Green playing much better and KD will likely be on the court for 48 minutes in a close, high-scoring game that could go down to the wire.
The Over is 13-6-1 in Milwaukee’s last 20 games following a straight up win of more than 10 points, the Bucks are 0-4 ATS in the last four meetings in Brooklyn and the Nets are 11-1 ATS in their last 12 games as a home favorite.
For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo is expected to score 26.4 points with 10.7 rebounds and 6.2 assists, making 9.8 field goals in 18.9 attempts.
For the Nets, Kevin Durant is projected to finish with 29.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists, making 10.0 field goals in 19.5 attempts.
Three-star (out of four) AccuScore hot trend pick on the total in this one. Average score in simulations is Milwaukee Bucks 112.5 to Brooklyn Nets 109.