It took less than a minute of Game 1 for the Brooklyn Nets’ Big 3 to become a Big 2, as James Harden exited with a hamstring injury which will cause him to miss tonight’s game, as well. It did deter the Nets, however, as they never relinquished the lead they acquired with 8:41 remaining in the second quarter on a Kyrie Irving 3-pointer. Brooklyn coasted to a 115-107 victory, getting significant contributions from Blake Griffin, Joe Harris, and Bruce Brown.
Let’s take a deep dive into the different markets with our Game 2 Nets vs. Bucks betting pick, complete with the best odds, prop predictions, and analysis.
Milwaukee labored from long range (6-30, 20%) and the foul line (11-19, 58%), much like they did in Game 1 of their First Round game against Miami. The Bucks were able to escape that Heat game with a narrow overtime victory, but were not so fortunate against Brooklyn and must now try to find a way to steal Game 2 and avoid heading home down 0-2 in the series. A two game hole to start the Eastern Conference Semifinals would have an eerie ring to it for Bucks fans who saw the same occur last summer in the bubble when Miami ran the Bucks out of Florida in just five games.
Game 1 closed with a total near 240, but saw the two teams barely edge past 220 combined points. This could possibly be attributed to Harden’s absence and oddsmakers adjusted a bit for Game 2, bumping the opening total down to around 235.5, a number that has since dipped further to around 234 at the time this was written. Will the two teams improve upon their combined 91-199 (45.7%) from the field and 21-70 (30.0%) from 3-point range enough to push this one over the posted total or will we see a second straight under result to begin this highly anticipated series between the league’s top two scoring offenses?
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Nets vs. Bucks Odds
Here is the current line on Nets vs. Bucks Game 2 at DraftKings Sportsbook:
|CLIPPERS||+5 (-110)||+165||O 224 (-113)|
|SUNS||-5 (-110)||-200||U 224 (-109)|
Bets We Like With a Bucks Win
Khris Middleton Over 24.5 Points and Milwaukee Bucks to Win (FOXBET +300)
We will discuss the “Bucks to Win” portion of this selection in more depth in the next section, but, for now, let’s just focus on the outright win aspect. The Bucks are 1-1.5 point underdogs in the game, so your margin for error on this wager versus a spread play on Milwaukee is squarely on that possibility of a one point loss. It would bring you a push or win on the Bucks spread, but a loss on this prop.
You will be pleased to learn, however, that Milwaukee lost just four games this season by one point. That may seem like a lot for a team with just 27 losses all season, but still means that, using this season as the sample space, the bettor has just a 5.2% chance of losing this game by one point. Interestingly, the Bucks were actually favored in all four of those games and three of them were against Western Conference opponents. The fourth came in the first game of the regular season against Boston.
Perhaps even more compelling, though, is the fact that this is the Bucks fifth straight season making the Playoffs and they have played 39 postseason games in that span without a single game being a one point loss. Wow!
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Now, let’s spend a little time focusing on Khris Middleton. When the Bucks have excelled over the last few seasons, it has often been when Middleton and Giannis both played like stars. They will need that tonight to steal a win on the road and with it, home court advantage in the series.
Middleton has averaged over 20 points per game in three of the last four seasons, including this one, so we are not asking a ton over his season average to check off the first part of our prop bet. He also averaged 20.3 points per game last summer in the Playoffs, as well as 24.7 ppg back in the 2017-18 postseason.
In a game in which we expect to see far more offense from the Bucks and much of it coming from outside as the Nets try to improve upon the 72 points in the paint they allowed in Game 1, it is worth noting that Middleton shot over 41% from deep this season, making 2.2 threes per game in the regular season. He also is essentially a 90% foul shooter, meaning he is likely to be the guy with the ball in his hands late in this one if it is close and the Bucks have the lead.
This season, Middleton averaged 24.7 points per game against Brooklyn in three regular season outings, scoring a balanced 24, 25, and 26, respectively. In those games, he averaged well above his season stat lines in terms of minutes played, field goal attempts per game, and field goal percentage.
Oddly, Middleton played ten other Monday games this season and averaged 22.2 points per game. That was second best of any day of the week for him to only Sunday games where he posted 23.1 points per game.
While Middleton struggled to a 6-23 night from the field in Game 1, totaling just 13 points, he is no stranger to topping this prop’s number on the season. He went for 27 points in Game 1 of the Miami series, the only closely contested one in that series, much like we anticipate tonight. He also tallied 25 or more points 17 times in 68 regular season games (25%).
The great news for us with this prop is that Middleton almost never has back to back bad games. He had just 18 games this season where he shot 40% or worse from the field (like in Game 1). In the following games, he averaged 22.4 points per game, scoring less than 18 points just three times. He shot above his season average in 14 of those 18 subsequent games, topping 40% from the field in all but two of the efforts.
Working in our favor even further here is the fact that Middleton’s points and minutes were diminished in several of those 18 bounceback games, as well, due to them being blowout wins for the Bucks. That’s unlikely to be the case tonight, so we should see a ton of Middleton on the court, especially with DiVincenzo hurt.
Bucks vs. Nets Pick
If you are the Bucks, this has to be the biggest game of your season. They bowed out in the second round of the Playoffs last summer after going down 0-2. A team many were picking to come out of East and even win it all has to make a better showing than another soft exit like the five-game effort they put up against Miami in the bubble. The expectation is for more from the Bucks, who model themselves after their star, Giannis, and his effort level at both ends of the court on every possession.
Milwaukee doesn’t know when James Harden and Jeff Green will return, making this a must win game. And, even with DiVincenzo out, they are still a team that boasts four starters who receive All-Defensive Team votes last season, including two who actually made the team in Giannis and Brook Lopez. Jrue Holiday is arguably the best one-on-one, on the ball defender in the league, and will surely be tasked with tailing Irving throughout, potentially leaving Kevin Durant and the Nets’ role players to bear the scoring onus for Brooklyn.
Durant, we know, can be an impossible cover, but one man, alone, will not likely win a game like this, with two teams that each average over 118 points per game. Brooklyn’s supporting cast did a superb job in Game 1, but, remember, Milwaukee had come in game planning for Harden to play. Now, they will have used their off-day to make things more difficult for Griffin, Harris, etc.
It is going to be far more challenging for Brooklyn to find a way to keep Milwaukee from the easy buckets they were getting in Game 1. We mentioned earlier the 72 points the Bucks scored in the paint and if you combine that with a better outside shooting night, as can be expected from Milwaukee, then things could get very easy for the Bucks this evening.
Milwaukee lost back to back road games against Playoff teams just twice this season and only had six multiple loss stretches all year long. They were a 32-15 team straight up on one day of rest, averaging 122.2 points per game, their most of any rest duration. Worth mentioning, Brooklyn allowed 115.6 points per game on one day of rest, which was their worst of any rest increment.
The Bucks were 6-3 SU and ATS this season in the second of back-to-back games against the same team, including 3-0 SU and ATS in the last three opportunities, despite six of the nine games coming against Playoff teams. They averaged above their points per game on the season in those nine games, including 124 in the second game of the back-to-back against these Nets and 132 in Game 2 of the first round series against Miami. Both of those games were convincing wins.
In a game that should be viewed as a must win for Milwaukee, we have to trust them to bounce back tonight in Game 2. They should win outright with likely more trips to the foul line and cleaner looks from outside, but we will take the 1 point buffer just in case this somehow becomes the team’s fifth one-point loss of the season.
Betting Pick: Milwaukee +1 (FOXBET -110)
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