The Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series between the no. 2 Brooklyn Nets and the no. 3 Milwaukee Bucks has been reduced to a best of three affair.
The two teams play on Tuesday at the Barclays Center to determine who takes that crucial 3-2 lead. In the history of the NBA playoffs, teams that win Game 5 when the series is tied at 2-games apiece have gone on to win 82.5% of the time or a 174-37 record.
The Milwaukee Bucks have battled back from a 0-2 deficit to tie the series at 2-all. Milwaukee is now the slight favorite to win the series after being a sizeable underdog after two games. The Bucks won comfortably in Game 4 after barely getting past the Nets in Game 3.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging 29.8 points per game in the series but has upped that to 33.5 in his last two games. The Greek Freak, however, continues to struggle from the foul line, as he is 11-29 or 30.8% in the series. Khris Middleton is averaging 27 points per game in the last two games of the series and has proven to be a reliable go-to guy down the stretch.
Milwaukee made six more three-pointers than the Nets in Game 4 but still shot only 34.0% from deep. The Bucks played better as a team with seven more assists and committed three fewer turnovers.
After losing James Harden to a hamstring injury after the first minute of Game 1, Brooklyn lost Kyrie Irving to an ankle injury in Game 4 and both won’t be playing in this game. Without the two, Kevin Durant will have to carry much of the scoring load for the Nets which won’t be a problem. However, it will be interesting to see who the Nets’ primary playmaker will be without Kyrie and Harden.
Durant scored 28 points in Game 4 but he shot just 9-25 and was 3-12 with only nine points against P.J. Tucker. KD may need to score 50 here for the Nets to have a chance to win this game. It remains to be seen though who among their role players will step up in Irving’s absence. Blake Griffin has scored just 13 total points in Games 3 and 4 after putting up 18 in Game 1.
The Nets made only 10 of 33 three-pointers in Game 4 and shot just 43.4% from the field. They committed 17 total turnovers and conceded 20 fastbreak points while only scoring six points on the run.
The Bucks are 14-4 SU in their last 18 games played. Milwaukee is just 2-3 SU in their last five road games, but 6-2 in their last eight games against the Atlantic Division. The Nets are 11-3 SU in their last 14 games played. Brooklyn is 6-0 SU in their last eight games played at home, but just 5-10 SU in their last 15 games played in June.
Head to head, the Bucks are 14-6 SU in their last 20 games against the Nets. Milwaukee is also 8-3 in their last 11 road games against Brooklyn.
After Game 2, the Nets were a -400 betting favorite to win the series. But after losing the last two, the roles have reversed and the Bucks are now slightly favored to advance to the Conference Finals. That may be looking too far ahead but as far as Game 5 is concerned, both Harden and Irving won’t be playing.
The Nets have home court advantage but that’s about the only edge they have. Milwaukee will be complete except Donte DiVincenzo while the Nets are without two of their best players. The Bucks also have the momentum having won the last two games.
I expect Durant to have a big game. But he won’t be able to win this game by himself. Unless Milwaukee comes out flat, I expect the Bucks to take advantage of the Nets’ injury woes and grab the series lead.
Prediction: Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee is just 5-10 ATS in their last 15 games played. The Bucks are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games played on the road. However, they are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games played against an opponent with a winning record, 4-1 ATS in their last five games after a straight up win, 4-1 ATS in their last five games as playoff betting favorites, and 4-1 ATS in their last five road games against an opponent with a winning home record.
Brooklyn is 12-2 ATS in their last 14 games played. The Nets are 8-0 ATS in their last eight games played at home, and 6-1 ATS in their last seven games against the Central Division. However, they are 0-4 ATS in their last four games as betting underdog, and, 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games as playoff underdogs.
Head to head, the Bucks are 30-14-1 ATS in their last 45 games against the Nets. Milwaukee is also 16-5-1 ATS in their last 22 meetings in Brooklyn.
Kyrie Irving’s ankle injury isn’t just a game-changer, it’s a series-changer and an odds-changer. The Nets looked like they were going to breeze through to the Conference Finals after two games but without both Harden and Irving in Game 5, Durant has a tough task of carrying the team on his lean shoulders.
I wouldn’t be surprised if KD drops 50 in this game. But I expect the Bucks to take advantage and win this game by more than five points. I won’t be surprised if they win by double digits.
Prediction: Bucks -4.5
The total has gone under in each of the last four games played by the Bucks. The under is 5-0 in their last five Conference semifinals games, 6-0 in their last six games against an opponent with a winning record, 7-1 in their last eight road games against an opponent with a winning home record, and 25-10 in their last 35 games against an opponent with a winning percentage of .600 or higher.
The under is 5-0 in the Nets’ last five games played overall. The total has gone under in their last six games as underdogs, 4-0 in their last four Conference semifinals games, 6-0 in their last six games against an opponent with a winning record, and 4-1 in their last five games played at home.
Head to head, the under is 6-0 in their last six meetings. The total has gone under in five out of their last seven games played in Brooklyn.
Surprisingly, the Nets have played good defense in this series with Milwaukee unable to score more than 107 points. Or maybe the Bucks have just been struggling? Either way, the high-scoring Milwaukee offense is no more in this series. Meanwhile, the Nets have been unable to score more than 96 points in their last two games after averaging 120.0 in the first two. Without Irving in Game 5, I don’t think these teams will hit 217. They’ve hit that total only once in this series and that was in Game 1.
Prediction: Under 217.5
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.