Suddenly, the shorthanded Nets have their backs up against the wall ahead of a pivotal Game 5 against the Bucks. Without James Harden and Kyrie Irving in the lineup, Kevin Durant will look to help his team pull the upset and regain control of this Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup.
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Bucks vs. Nets Game 5 Pick
Durant is going to garner all of the Bucks’ defensive attention tonight. If Milwaukee is going to lose, they want to do so because Bruce Brown and Joe Harris beat them, not because KD went off for 50 points, putting the Nets on his elite shoulders and carrying them across the line. Inevitably, this will mean deep trips into the shot clock for the Nets, who will have to pass the ball around to find the open man, which is something they have done really well throughout this season.
Yes, this is a matchup of the top two scoring teams in the league, but neither has played as such in the Playoffs, especially in this series. A big part of that is because defensive intensity amplifies in the NBA Playoffs and both of these teams have aspirations of reaching the Finals, something typically done through great defense.
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Bucks vs. Nets Game 5 Odds (June 15, 2021)
Here is the current line on Nets vs. Bucks Game 5 at DraftKings Sportsbook:
|CLIPPERS||+5 (-110)||+165||O 224 (-113)|
|SUNS||-5 (-110)||-200||U 224 (-109)|
And, yes, they were able to pile up the points throughout the regular season, but what went unnoticed by the casual fan was how darn good these defenses really were all along. When you allow the ninth and tenth most points per game in the league, your defense will inevitably get painted with a brush slathered in mediocrity. Meanwhile, what we really have here is a matchup of the fifth and seventh best defenses in terms of field goal percentage. Other teams may have scored “a lot” of points, but it was often because they just had so many more shot opportunities while playing (often from behind) against the second and 11th fastest pace of play teams in the league.
It’s not just injuries and bad offensive luck that have produced four straight under games to open this series. Each game means everything to each team and the defense is playing each possession accordingly. Oddsmakers have already come down 22 points for this total from Game 1’s and it may now be one of those situations where they are trapped and just cannot go low enough. We believe you have to play under in this series until someone gives you a real reason to do otherwise.
Only Game 1 topped tonight’s posted 217.5 number, with the last three games wrapping up at 211, 169, and 203 total points. Hard to fathom a huge spike in points tonight in a game that Brooklyn has to realize they can only win by minimizing possessions and shrinking the clock as much as possible to mask the likely absence of their two other stars.
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Looking at some trends for the totals with these two teams, we find a considerable number of noteworthy patterns. For starters, Milwaukee has played 18 of its 28 games under the total this season as favorites of 3-7 points (64.3%). And despite being a team that played considerably more games over than under this season, the Bucks still played 25 of their 39 games against above .500 opponents staying under, as well (64.1%), proving just how much games change when they matter.
Bucks Play Toughest Teams Tight
That mentality is amplified for Milwaukee with five under games in its last six on the road against a team with an above .600 home win percentage. It actually doesn’t seem to matter much where those games take place, as Milwaukee has played 25 of its last 35 games against above .600 win percentage teams under the number. Further, the Bucks have played seven of their last eight under against any team with a winning home record.
Brooklyn, with the star-studded roster it possesses, will typically only be underdogs when one or more of their three stars are missing, like tonight. They obviously know those are the times where their defense needs to step up to compensate for a potentially diminished offense, as they have played six straight games under as a dog and four straight as a home dog.
The Nets have also played four of their last five playoff games under when getting points. With Brooklyn having played five of its last seven games under after a straight up loss and five of its last seven games under on one day of rest, we should be set up for another opportunity to stay under the posted total tonight.
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Bucks vs. Nets Game 5 Prediction
This head-to-head series has now reached six straight games under the number this season and there is little to suspect that will end tonight. Expect this to be the sixth game under the total in the last eight meetings between these two in Brooklyn as this war of attrition continues tonight at the Barclays Center.
Our Pick: Mil/BKN Under 218.5
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