james harden brooklyn nets
Courtesy Instagram: Brooklyn Nets

Let’s take a look at the schedule, matchups, potential adjustments, odds, and more for this Nets-Bucks series.

Danny Small

The first round of the playoffs was nothing more than a warmup for the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. The Nets dropped one game to the Boston Celtics before cruising into the second round in a gentleman’s sweep.

The Bucks, on the other hand, avenged some playoff demons by smacking the Miami Heat in the only sweep of the first round. Giannis Antetokounmpo looked phenomenal in that series and his planet-sized gravity is going to be an issue for Brooklyn.

Nets-Bucks Schedule

Game 1 — Saturday, June 5 — 7:30 p.m. ET
Game 2 — Monday, June 7 — 7:30 p.m.
Game 3 — Thursday, June 10 — TBD
Game 4 — Sunday, June 13 — 3 p.m.
Game 5 — Tuesday, June 15 — TBD
Game 6 — Thursday, June 17 — TBD
Game 7 — Saturday, June 19 — TBD

Nets vs. Bucks Odds

Here are the current odds on this Nets-Bucks series:

PointsBet: Nets -233 // Bucks +185
DraftKings: Nets -200 // Bucks +160
FanDuel: Nets -200 // Bucks +160
BetMGM: Nets -200 // Bucks +165

Nets-Bucks Matchups

Nets Projected Starters:

PG — James Harden
SG — Kyrie Irving
SF — Joe Harris
PF — Kevin Durant
C — Blake Griffin

Nets Bench:

Bruce Brown
Tyler Johnson
Landry Shamet
Nicolas Claxton
Mike James
DeAndre Jordan
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot
Alize Johnson (Day-to-Day — Ankle)
Jeff Green (Out — Plantar Fascia)

Bucks Projected Starters:

PG — Jrue Holiday
SG — Khris Middleton
SF — Pat Connaughton
PF — Giannis Antetokounmpo
C — Brook Lopez

Celtics Bench:

Bryn Forbes
PJ Tucker
Bobby Portis
Jeff Teague
Justin Jackson
Axel Toupane
Mamadi Diakite
Sam Merrill
Donte DiVincenzo (Out — Foot)

Can Anyone Stop the Big 3?

Are the Nets unbeatable? No. Are they unbeatable when Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving all play well? Probably. The Celtics figured that out pretty quickly in the first round.

The chemistry questions were answered in a big way in that first-round series. The big three averaged 85.2 points per game in the series and their reliance on a “your turn, my turn” kind of offense didn’t come with any setbacks whatsoever. As crazy as it may sound, when you put three of the best players in the NBA on the same team, they do pretty well.

All three guys are playing well, but Harden seems to be the lynchpin that keeps it all together. That shouldn’t come as a surprise considering his role as the point guard and main facilitator.

Brooklyn’s NET rating with all three guys on the floor was +24.21 in the Boston series. That number dipped down to -6.32 when it was just Durant and Irving on the floor. Meanwhile, Harden’s NET rating without Durant or Irving was -0.31.

Can Giannis Antetokounmpo Get Over the Hump?

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks have been right on the doorstep of the NBA Finals in each of the last two seasons. They only made the Eastern Conference Finals in one of those years, but they have had the talent to come out of the East. Have they suffered enough playoff heartbreak to gain the requisite experience for a trip to the NBA Finals?

In short, the pressure is on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s shoulders. Milwaukee traded a boatload of assets to acquire Jrue Holiday in the offseason for this exact moment. The trio of Antetokounmpo, Holiday, and Khris Middleton will have their work cut out for them.

Regular season results have little to no correlation with the playoffs, so we will ignore the Nets-Bucks meetings from this season, but it doesn’t take an expert to see that the Nets are going to have a tough time matching up with Giannis.

Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, and Nicolas Claxton will all have to cover Antetokounmpo at points in the series. Jeff Green, who is out with plantar fascia, could be another option for Nets coach Steve Nash.

Open Path to the NBA Finals?

Is the Red Sea parting for the winner of Nets-Bucks? The Philadelphia 76ers are the favorite in their series against the Atlanta Hawks, but that is entirely dependent on Joel Embiid’s health. He was a partial participant in Philly’s practice on Friday.

Of course, if he’s healthy, the Sixers will be a tough opponent for the Nets or Bucks. But without him, Philly is going to be in an uncomfortable position. It would be their furthest trip in the playoffs in two decades. Embiid’s health is something both of these clubs are going to be monitoring.

Nets vs. Bucks Prediction

Nets in five.

NYY

NYM

NYG

NYJ

NYK

BKN

NYR

NYI

NJD

SJU