The Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks will meet in a heavyweight Eastern Conference semifinal showdown after both teams made short work of their opening-round opponents. The Nets bested the Boston Celtics in five games, and the Bucks needed only four games to dispatch the Miami Heat. After both took care of business in the first round, Brooklyn and Milwaukee will battle for the right to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. The Bucks will be looking for their first conference finals appearance since 2019, while the Nets haven’t been there since 2003 when they were led by Hall of Famer Jason Kidd. For what it’s worth, the Bucks won two out of three contests against Brooklyn during the regular season, including the two most recent games in early May.
There will be no shortage of star power in this series as the Nets have four players who have made at least six All-Star teams in Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Blake Griffin, while the Bucks have three All-Star-caliber players of their own in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. Both teams are legitimate title contenders, so this series promises to be a battle. For more details about the match-up, check NBA’s official website.
Here’s a look at the series schedule:
Brooklyn leads series 1-0
- Game 1: Nets 115, Bucks 107
- Game 2: Monday, June 7, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Game 3: Thursday, June 10, TBA
- Game 4: Sunday, June 13, 3 p.m. ET
- Game 5*: Tuesday, June 15, TBD
- Game 6*: Thursday, June 17, TBD
(2) Brooklyn Nets vs. (3) Milwaukee Bucks
Well, it took under one minute for the playoff series we waited all season for to be thrown into chaos. James Harden tweaked his right hamstring injury on Brooklyn’s first possession and limped straight to the locker room. Just like that, mountains of pre-series analysis and picks went right out the window. Harden missed 21 games due to the same injury and was ruled out for Game 2 on Sunday afternoon, which isn’t a great sign for his long-term outlook. This series does see two days off before Game 3 and two more before Game 4 since both teams won so quickly in the first round, so Harden could potentially get a full week off and still return for Game 4.
That does put a little more pressure on Milwaukee to win a game like this, knowing that it has some advantage with the Nets down their MVP candidate, for now. And unfortunately, that now means we’re down three of the 10 presumed starters — or at least closers — in this series, since Donte DiVincenzo and Jeff Green are both also out. Bruce Brown started the second half without Harden, so he’ll be the presumed Harden replacement. P.J. Tucker was a surprise starter for Milwaukee with DiVincenzo out, and he played 28 minutes. Brooklyn also started Blake Griffin as its big man, and he had a throwback game and was huge in the Game 1 win.
Oddly enough, we actually have more data on the Nets without Harden than we do with them. Brooklyn has played 19 games this year with 0 Harden minutes and both Irving and Durant active. The Nets went 10-9 in those Harden-less games with their other two stars playing. That includes an 8-10-1 record against the spread. The average total closed at 233.3, while the games finished with an average of 236.0 points, with nine overs, nine unders, and one push.
In Game 1 on Saturday, the Nets got a shockingly great game from Blake Griffin. He got the start and had 18 points, 14 rebounds, and three assists, looking lively on both ends and hitting four of five 3s. That performance is quite unlikely to repeat itself. Mike James surprisingly played over 30 minutes off the bench and had a big night himself with 12 points, seven rebounds, and three dimes. Nic Claxton was also a big positive off the bench with his energy and defense.
Still, Brooklyn is not exactly a deep team. Kyrie Irving played over 44 minutes in the Game 1 win, and Durant was over 40, even with both sitting out the final minutes. Griffin played 35 too. It’s hard to see Brooklyn sustain that level of play all series, especially at this pace. Bruce Brown played 21 minutes off the bench but will likely start Game 2, so he’s not even a bench option. Beyond him, it was just James, Claxton, and Shamet, with the latter two playing only 26 minutes combined. DeAndre Jordan was considered a possibility to start and defend Giannis Antetokounmpo, but he was the one Net who didn’t play a second.
Tucker was a surprise starter, with Milwaukee starting both of its presumed “centers” together. Tucker’s inclusion initially worked like a charm. He scored a few buckets early, including a corner 3-pointer, and was his usual pesky self in defense. But Brooklyn adjusted quickly and sagged more and more off Tucker as the game went on, allowing his defender to help aggressively and play 5-on-4 in defense. Tucker finished a team-worst minus-13 on the night even after his positive early start.
Milwaukee went much deeper into its bench than most expected. Jeff Teague played 14 minutes, which appeared to be approximately 14 minutes too many, and Bobby Portis was quickly targeted defensively in his 17 minutes. The other two off the Bucks’ bench, Bryn Forbes and Pat Connaughton saw 22 and 20 minutes. Many were surprised and frustrated to see the three Bucks stars limited to around 36 minutes apiece. That was in part due to Milwaukee calling off the dogs in the last few minutes, but Coach Bud’s rotations felt wonky in the moment, and he stood by them after the game.
The biggest problem for the Bucks in Game 1 was that Milwaukee just couldn’t hit a shot to save its life. The Bucks hit just 6-of-30 3-pointers, an ugly 20% mark that was even worse than that until a couple late meaningless makes. Milwaukee also made only 11-of-19 free throws (58%), with the three stars hitting just 2-of-8. It’s tough to win a game when you shoot that poorly. Khris Middleton was especially poor on both ends.
Game 1 opened at an NBA postseason record 239.5 and finished well below that at 222, but remember all the missed shots! By Shot Quality, these teams would have been expected to score 250 points on an average shooting night in Game 1, easily covering the spread. The books, though, have adjusted this line down, way down. It’s down to 233.5 as of Sunday evening, and that feels like an overreaction to Harden’s absence and the lower scoring Game 1. There’s still plenty of offensive firepower even without Harden, and remember, the Nets play faster without him.
If we are being honest, too many points were scored considering Harden was out the whole game. Durant and Irving were forced to play almost the whole game, in order to win. On the other hand, several Bucks players had an awful night. Things like that won’t happen in every game. With Harden out, the Bucks now emerge favorites to win the series even though they lost the first game. Milwaukee will surely shoot the ball better in the 2nd game. If that happens, they will win, regardless of how many points the Nets can score. Their defense needs a lot of work as the Nets try to make up for that with fantastic offence.
However, that won’t work in every game. Blake Griffin will have to perform on a higher level throughout the entire series. In Game 1, he was fantastic and Brooklyn will need him to do that in every game. Nevertheless, if Harden doesn’t return soon, we expect the Bucks to go to the Eastern Finals. With that being said, we are going with a safer option when it comes to betting. Offense is the only way for Brooklyn to win. The Bucks, on the other hand, have to shoot better to win. That’s why we believe that the Over/Under markets offer more value than any other bet. Check our NBA Playoffs 2021 article for our full playoff predictions.
Basketball Betting & NBA Markets/Odds
Now that we have made our prediction on this second round match-up, it’s time to talk about basketball betting. First, it’s crucial to find a great bookmaker that offers various NBA markets with competitive odds. We suggest visiting, the Coinbet24 Bitcoin Sportsbook for the best odds and markets when it comes to NBA betting.
Additionally, visit the Coinbet24 blog to learn more about basketball, the NBA, and basketball betting. Once the first round is done, make sure to check with us again about more predictions. We will cover all the games in the Playoffs, until one of the 16 teams is crowned NBA Champion.