Bucks vs. Nets NBA Playoffs Game 1 Picks: Offense is the Best Defense for Brooklyn

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets is congratulated by teammates Kevin Durant #7 and James Harden #13. Elsa/Getty Images/AFP

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets is congratulated by teammates Kevin Durant #7 and James Harden #13. Elsa/Getty Images/AFP

This Saturday the Milwaukee Bucks visit the Brooklyn Nets to open what should be a very entertaining second round series. Here’s a complete preview, including updated betting odds and NBA picks.

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Brooklyn Nets

Saturday, June 05, 2021 – 07:30 PM EDT at Barclays Center

The Nets opened as 4-point favorites at Bet365 and over at FiveThirtyEight, they also have the Nets at -4. This leaves no point gap between the projections and the actual NBA odds. We need at least two points between the projections and the lines before we lay any serious wood. Here we are not getting enough.

FiveThirtyEight gives the Nets a 66 percent chance to win. The equivalent moneyline is -194. For support, we turn to USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin’s projections; he has the Nets at -0.41 using his Rating numbers, and at -1.81 using his eigenvector analysis. Is there some room to grab potential betting value with the Bucks +4.5 at Unibet?

More Offense = Better Defense?

You have to understand that the Brooklyn offense is their defense. This team manipulates the flow and pace of a game with their offensive tempo and their opponents have to keep up. Whoever plays the Nets ends up not playing defense, as their system is set up so they run the opposing team out the gym. The Nets turn games into a shootout with the hopes that they will score more efficiently than their opponent. The Bucks have to be aware of this and come out ready to keep up with them! The downfall for the Nets is that the other team’s scorers can get hot. The results of the regular season meetings between the Bucks and Nets favored the Bucks in two of the three meetings but look at the final scores:

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 in KD, Kyrie and Harden. They epitomize what pure hoopers are. To me, James Harden is their MVP. 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 go to work and he has adapted his game to fit with whatever the Nets need from him. He can be their point guard or just go get buckets by himself over and over again, no screens needed, just like he did with the Rockets. KD and Kyrie are like that too, which is why this team is so scary! Not to mention that they have a pretty strong supporting cast with guys like Joe Harris and Blake Griffin!

On Holiday

The difference-maker for the Bucks can be Jrue Holiday (plus-2.8 Offensive Box Plus/Minus), Holiday is the half-court creator they needed for years and he can do wonders against the Nets, if they empower him like in the first round series against the Heat. The eye test shows that Holiday has been an underrated star in the league for a few years. He can do it all and his two-man game with Giannis Antetokounmpo can be lethal against the Nets. Holiday is smart at the point and he can have the Brooklyn defense guessing at all times.

The Bucks were built to make sure Giannis 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 very important in this game, as the Nets use offense as their defense.

Prediction

A team like the Nets manipulates the flow and pace of a game with their offensive tempo and uses a “match us” to survive pace. As their opponent you need weapons and offensive chemistry to play like this and the Bucks have that, they 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 total is very high but I will make a small bet on this game being a shootout! 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.

NBA Pick: Over 239.5 (-110) at BetMGM

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