Milwaukee Bucks (50-26) vs. Brooklyn Nets (52-25)
June 5, 2021 7:30 pm EDT
The Line: Brooklyn Nets -3.5; Over/Under: +241
(Click here for latest betting odds)
The Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets collide in Game 1 at the Barclays Center on Saturday night.
The Milwaukee Bucks will be well-rested and full of confidence after taking care of the Heat in a sweep in the first round. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the team with averages of 23.5 points, 15.0 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game, Khris Middleton added 21.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, Brook Lopez averaged 15.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while Jrue Holiday averaged 15.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 9.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game. As a team, the Bucks scored an average of 118.5 points while shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from the 3-point line, but where they really shone against the Heat was on the defensive end as their pressure just proved too much to handle. Antetokounmpo leads the team on the defensive end, but where they’ve really improved over last season is that they acquired tough players in Holiday, Portis and Tucker.
Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets are coming into this round fresh off a 4-1 series win over the shorthanded Celtics who were without their second-best player in Jaylen Brown. Kevin Durant led the team with averages of 32.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.2 blocks per game, James Harden averaged 27.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 10.6 assists per game while Kyrie Irving averaged 24.8 points and 6.4 assists per game. As a team, the Nets scored an average of 123.4 points per game while shooting 49.6 percent from the field and 42.6 percent from the 3-point line for the series. In these playoffs, the Nets rank first in offensive rating and first in 3-point shooting, but their defense struggled to contain a shorthanded Celtics team.
Looking at the betting trends, the Bucks are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games against a team with a winning record, 0-8 ATS in their last eight games as an underdog and 1-3-1 ATS in their last five games playing on three or more days rest. The Nets are 6-0 ATS in the last six home games, 1-4 ATS in their last five games against a team with a winning record and 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
Head to head, the over is 9-4 in the last 13 meetings in Brooklyn, the Bucks are 29-11-1 ATS in the last 41 meetings overall and the Bucks are 16-4-1 ATS in the last 21 meetings in Brooklyn.
You can make an argument for either side here as it’s just so hard to split these two teams. The Nets are all about offense and it’s no surprise given they have three of the best scorers in the league, but they were far from convincing against the Celtics on the defensive end and it could cost them in this series. The Bucks are the more settled team as they’ve had more time together compared to the Nets who are still learning to play with each other, but the Nets are 6-0 ATS in their last six home games and I think they draw first blood in this series with a narrow win and cover here.