James Harden’s hamstring has everyone fading the Brooklyn Nets and putting the Milwaukee Bucks in Thursday’s Game 6 NBA picks. Should you?
Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Thursday, June 17, 2021 – 8:30 PM ET at Fiserv Forum
The NBA is falling apart at the seams. It seems like every other day, a mega-star winds up injured or on the COVID-19 list, and the NBA lines go haywire. Look at what’s happened to Thursday’s Game 6 between the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks: With Kyrie Irving (ankle) now expected to miss the rest of the series, and James Harden (hamstring) a shell of his former self in Game 5, the Nets are available at +5.5 on the NBA odds board at bet365 as we go to press. This was after Brooklyn opened at +3.5.
Of course, none of this prevented the Nets from coming back to beat Milwaukee (–1.5 away) 114-108 Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal. But can they do it again in Game 6, in Milwaukee, after unloading the clip to win Game 5?
Actually, yes. While it’s obvious that Harden (1-for-10 in 46 painful minutes) is having issues with that tender hamstring, he can’t do much worse Thursday than he did Tuesday. Same goes for Joe Harris, who shot 2-of-11 and isn’t even hurt – not that we know of. There’s room for improvement here, maybe enough room to cover for Kevin Durant, who isn’t likely to post another 49-point triple-double in Game 6 while playing the full 48 minutes.
Speaking of regression, the Bucks can’t look at their Game 5 loss and blame it on variance. They hit 40.6 percent of their threes, shooting 13-for-32 from behind the arc, while Brooklyn shot 16-for-43 (37.2 percent). Even with their injuries, the Nets have a deeper bench than Milwaukee; don’t overlook the absence of Donte DiVincenzo (foot) from the Bucks lineup. Steve Nash has used those options well thus far to counter what Mike Budenholzer is throwing at him.
Whatever the situation on the ground, it’s that line move that makes Brooklyn a viable choice for Thursday’s NBA picks. The online sportsbooks have otherwise done a very good job posting tight lines in this series, especially in Game 3 when it moved to Milwaukee and they made the Bucks 3.5-point favorites. Final score: Brooklyn 83, Milwaukee 86. Irving played in that game and Harden didn’t, but Irving only shot 9-for-22, so again, the bar is set pretty low for Harden this Thursday.
Not that we’re blaming the books for all this Milwaukee steam. This is about the betting public getting too worried about Harden’s performance in Game 5 – and over-valuing Irving’s contributions as well. Maybe Durant and Harden will indeed run out of gas in Game 6. It’s almost certain they will. But it’s probably not as awful for Brooklyn as the public thinks right now. Bet accordingly, and enjoy the game.
NBA Pick: Nets +5.5 (–105) at bet365