The Brooklyn Nets (43-22) and Milwaukee Bucks (40-24) look to put on an encore Tuesday night on TNT after their 117-114 thriller on Sunday, which was won by the Bucks. Both games between these teams this season were decided by fewer than four points and this is the rubber match heading into the postseason.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Tuesday, May 4, 2021 – 07:30 PM EDT at Fiserv Forum
The Bucks are a 2-point home favorite at most NBA sportsbooks. These are the two highest-scoring teams in the league, and they are both 6-4 in their last 10 games. The Nets have only had one three-game losing streak this season, which was back in early February. However, they are in danger of another one here, in addition to losing more ground at the top of the Eastern Conference race with Philadelphia.
The Last Two Times
With respect to the Philadelphia 76ers, a playoff series between the Nets and Bucks may be the best entertainment value we can get in the Eastern Conference this year. Their two close games with the star power performing at a high level are proof of that.
Back in January, the Nets beat the Bucks 125-123 after Kevin Durant hit a dagger three-pointer with 36 seconds left. Khris Middleton was unable to connect on a pair of threes to end the game. Durant finished with 30 points, James Harden had 34 points and 12 assists, and Giannis Antetokounmpo had 34 points (but was minus-12 in the box score). Kyrie Irving did not play that game, which means we still will not see Brooklyn’s Big Three take on Giannis and the Bucks until possibly the playoffs. Irving is back now, but Harden remains out for Brooklyn.
On Sunday, the game was incredibly evenly matched as the juggernauts traded runs. Brooklyn led for 21:16, Milwaukee led for 21:29, and the game was tied for 5:16. The score was tied at 90 to start the fourth quarter, but the Bucks then got the better of Brooklyn.
Despite scoring 42 points, Durant was unable to recreate his three-point magic from January and missed his final two attempts to tie the game at 117. Durant and Irving combined to go 5-of-15 from the field in the fourth quarter, including three game-tying misses from three in the final 90 seconds.
Giannis led the way with a season-high 49 points, but it is interesting to note that through two games against each other this season, Giannis is minus-7 and Durant is minus-8 in plus-minus. It looks really difficult for these teams to pull away from one another this season when the offensive talent is so great and the defensive play is suspect.
The Nets are 2-4 this season when Durant scores at least 35 points, and he is hot right now with 42 points in back-to-back games. That record is bad, but it is a little misleading since only one of the losses came in a game where Durant played with Irving and Harden, and that was a double overtime loss to the Cavaliers. If Durant is playing at a high level with his two other top scoring options available, this team will be very difficult to beat.
Alas, they rarely ever put all three on the court at the same time and Tuesday will be another example of that with Harden out. Irving needs to step up from his performance on Sunday where he only scored 20 points on 8-of-21 shooting. He can do much better than that. Middleton pitched in 26 points to help support Giannis’ huge day.
The Nets have their hands full with Giannis and it is unlikely to get much better on Tuesday night. DeAndre Jordan was the primary defender for 35 of Giannis’ 49 points on Sunday according to ESPN Stats & Info. The Nets are going to have to be more aggressive in sending double teams to Giannis. Whether or not they use Durant to defend the former MVP remains to be seen as it will drain him quicker and his offensive production is obviously needed.
While I highlighted Brooklyn’s missed threes on Sunday, there is something else to point out that should make Nets bettors optimistic for Tuesday. The Nets finished 24-of-54 (44.4%) on two-point field goals on Sunday, their worst 2P% of the season. That should get better this time around, and Giannis is unlikely to repeat his best three-point shooting game (4-of-8) of the season.
As the first two meetings this season showed, it can come down to something as simple as a three-pointer going in or not in the final minute. I think Steve Nash has the Nets adjust enough on defense to slow down Giannis, Irving will shoot better, and the Nets will not repeat that season-worst game shooting from two-point territory.
Brooklyn is 12-8 ATS as an underdog, tied for the fourth-best record this season. It will hopefully be close and exciting again. I am going to take the Nets to cover for my NBA picks.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.