Milwaukee Bucks (50-26 35-41 ATS) at Brooklyn Nets (52-25 42-35 ATS)
Neither the Bucks or the Nets had a problem in their last series and these teams face off in Game 1 of a series where the winner will advance to the Eastern Conference finals. This game can be seen on TNT.
The Nets are a 4-point home favorite in this series opening game with the total sitting at 239.5.
In their last series the Bucks swept a Miami Heat team that bounced them from the playoffs last season. They won a close Game 1 of that series but won he last three games by an average of 26.7 ppg.
The Nets beat the Boston Celtics in five games in their last series and they won the last two games by double figures.
Can either team play defense in this series? That is a big question, as they combined to score 238.7 points per game in the regular season, which is tied for the most in the last 50 years between teams facing each other in a playoff series. On the defensive side of the ball the Bucks ranked 19th in the league this season in opponents’ ppg and the Nets ranked 26th.
The Bucks won two of three games against the Nets this season, both late in the season, but Brooklyn won the lone matchup on their floor.
The Other Big Three Has To Step Up
While the Big 3 is in Brooklyn the Bucks have a kind of Big 3 of their own in two time defending MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (28.1 ppg 11 rpg) and Khris Middleton (20.4 ppg) and Jrue Holiday (17.7 ppg).
The Greek Freak has played well in the post-season (23.5 ppg 11.5 rpg) and in the three games against the Nets this season was a monster averaging 39.7 ppg, 10.7 rpg and 5.0 assists per game.
Holliday has averaged 15.3 ppg in the post-season but his drfense may be more important in this game. His offense is still important and he needs to shoot the rock better than he did in the last game facing Miami where he only scored 11 points on 33.3% shooting.
Brook Lopez (12.3 ppg) has turned it up in the post-season averaging 15.8 ppg and his play will be key taking the pressure off the other scorers.
In an interesting trend the Bucks are 0-8 ATS in their last eight games as an underdog.
Stars’ Time to Shine
The Nets went all-in this last off-season bringing in Keven Durant (26.9 ppg) and then they traded for James Harden (24.6 ppg) in the beginning of the season. These guys and Kyrie Irving (26.9 ppg) have to get it done for a Brooklyn team where anything less than a title will be a disappointment.
The Big 3 was big in the playoffs, as they not only set an NBA record combining to score the most of any trio in NBA post-season history (85.2 ppg) but in the Game 5 win over Boston they combined for 104 points, which was the most ever by a trio.
Two key guys for the Nets besides the stars are Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan, as they will get the task of guarding Antetokounmpo. Jordan has not played a minute in the post-season but if he and Griffin can slow down the Greek Freak the Nets will win this game and this series.
The Nets have covered the spread in each of their last six home games.
The home team won and covered the spread in all three meetings between these teams this season and I look for that trend to continue. The Nets have more stars and I look for the other guys to help out on the defensive end of the court. This game will be a high scoring one but the big Big 3 of Durant, Harden, and Irving will come out strong in Game 1, which is why Brooklen will win and cover and take a 1-0 series lead.
PICK: Nets -4