Perhaps one of the more anticipated games of the final few weeks is the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.
The Bucks (47-28) are one game behind the Heat for the Eastern Conference’s top seed. The defending champs still have seven games to play, with five against playoff teams.
Brooklyn (40-36) can still make its way out of the play-in tournament. The Nets are firmly in the play-in tournament, sitting four games out of the six seed. But they are as dangerous of a play-in team as the league has seen with Kevin Durant and now Kyrie Irving being able to play home games.
The line opened at Brooklyn -1 with an over/under of 238. Those have since moved to Brooklyn -2 with an over/under of 243 as of this writing.
Brooklyn Nets Betting Preview: Finding rhythm
Irving has played two games at the Barclays Center this season and is shooting 32.5% with a 95 offensive rating. But the Nets have looked unstoppable at times on the road with him, so getting acclimated to home court is needed ahead of the playoffs.
Brooklyn is ninth in scoring at 112.4 points per game and fourth in efficiency at 47.4% from the field. It’s been an up-and-down season, including a trade of James Harden for Ben Simmons, who has yet to play this season with a back injury.
Durant is averaging 29.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game this season and has been carrying the load. The addition of Seth Curry has given Brooklyn some shooting at 42.2% on 3-pointers. That helps the Nets, who are 11th in the league at 35.7%.
Milwaukee Bucks Betting Preview: Lockdown defensively
Milwaukee has one of the top offenses in the league, and with the pace at which they play, the Bucks’ defensive numbers are skewed. But they are ninth in the league, holding teams to 45.3% from the field.
They allow 111.3 points per game (16th) and are scoring 114.9 points per game (fourth) themselves. They are the fifth-best 3-point shooting team at 36.8%.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is probable with a knee injury, and that’s good for the Bucks, who need their leader. Antetokounmpo is averaging 29.9 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game this season.
The big three with Khris Middleton (20.4 ppg) and Jrue Holiday (18.4 ppg) are starting to gain rhythm of their own, and all are expected to play.
Milwaukee is 36-39 against the spread and 37-38 on over/unders. The Bucks are 21-16 on the road. Brooklyn is 31-43-2 against the spread and 39-36-1 on over/unders with a 17-20 home record.
Their potential is shown at 23-16 on the road, which is when Irving has played due to COVID-19 restrictions in New York.
All that being said, Brooklyn beat Milwaukee 126-123 after the trade deadline without Durant. The Bucks had their big three, and Irving carried the load with 38 points. With both in the lineup, Irving’s struggles aside, we’ll go Brooklyn -2.
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