Nets vs. Bucks NBA Odds, Picks, Predictions: Should Brooklyn Really Be an Underdog in Game 3 on Wednesday?
Steven Ryan/Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin Durant.
- The Bucks host the Nets on Wednesday night as the series shifts back to Milwaukee for Game 3 (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), with Giannis and Co. desperately in need of a win.
- Brooklyn took a 2-0 lead behind a 39-point demolition of the Bucks in Game 2, all without James Harden even on the court.
- Austin Wang explains below why he believes the oddsmakers have it wrong in making Brooklyn an underdog on Thursday night, and gives his best bet for Bucks vs. Nets.
Nets vs. Bucks Game 3 Odds
|Moneyline||+138 / -167|
|Time||Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Wednesday and via DraftKings|
After the Brooklyn Nets lost James Harden to a hamstring injury within the first minute of Game 1, the Milwaukee Bucks failed to seize a perfect opportunity to gain an edge. The Bucks got another chance in Game 2 with Harden out again. However, they ended up falling on their faces with an embarrassing 39-point beatdown.
Heading back home for Game 3, the Bucks are now in danger of falling behind 0-3 to the best offense in NBA history. Harden and Jeff Green have both been declared out for Game 3, but it may not make a difference if the Bucks continue to play this poorly.
The Bucks open up as 3.5-point favorites as bookmakers and the market expect Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks to bounce-back at home in a “must-win” situation. The total is at 234, which sits higher than the scores of the first two games, as the Bucks have yet to find rhythm on offense.
Can the Bucks respond in Game 3 and make this a series? Or, will they be one step closer to another disappointing chapter in their story? Let’s break down the matchup and see where the betting value lies.
There’s No Stopping This Nets Offense
No Harden? No problem. The Nets have been firing on all cylinders behind Kevin Durant, who has been torching the Bucks in a variety of ways. He finished Game 2 with 32 points off 12-for-18 shooting. The Bucks have thrown Antetokounmpo, P.J. Tucker and Jrue Holiday at him, and he has cooked them with ease.
Durant has been showing off his crossovers and handles in isolation plays, and if the Bucks bring a double-team, the Nets are surrounded with sharpshooters. The Bucks simply have no answer for Durant and should pray for some regression from the Nets’ shooters.
As I mentioned in the Game 1 guide, the Nets ranked first in Effective Field Goal % (57.5%) and third in 3-point percentage (39.2%) in the regular season. On the flip side, the Bucks were second highest in the league in 3-point percentage allowed (38.4%) to their opponents.
The Bucks do not defend the three well, and the Nets have been able to capitalize, hitting 15 3-pointers in Game 1 and 21 3-pointers in Game 2. Four players had three or more 3-pointers in Game 2: Durant, Irving, Joe Harris and Landry Shamet. The Nets are shooting an absurd 49.6% from the field, 43.2% from behind the 3-point line and 90.8% from the free throw line.
The Nets have done a great job of moving and protecting the ball on offense. They’ve had a phenomenal Assist-to-Turnover Ratio of three or greater in the past four games. In two games against Milwaukee, the Nets have 52 assists and only 18 turnovers. I expect the Nets to continue their strong play against a Bucks defense that is in shambles.
Bucks Are Better At Home, But Is It Enough?
The Bucks are desperate to prove they are more than just a good regular-season team. If they get bounced from the playoffs again, this will be three consecutive, disappointing exits in a row.
The Bucks do play better at home as they have a 28-10 record there and a 22-18 record on the road. However, at this point, I’m not sure the support of their home crowd will be enough to help them against the potent Nets. Already down 0-2 and with mounting pressure from previous playoff failures, I could see the Bucks continue to come out flat.
Khris Middleton has been especially disappointing, shooting 13-for-43 (30.2%) from the field this series. The Bucks desperately need Middleton to break out of his slump in order to make this a series. Antetokounmpo became passive in Game 2 when the Bucks fell behind early. He settled for 3-pointers and did not attack the basket like he did in the regular season. Their offense has looked out-of-sync. They’ve been shooting poorly from the field, they can’t hit their free throws and their ball movement has been non-existent. In Game 2, they committed more turnovers (16) than assists (14).
Teams off a playoff loss where they committed more turnovers than assists have gone 28-44-1 (38.9%) ATS since the 2012-2013 season, per the Sports Data Query Language Database. This is active as a play against the Bucks. The inefficient offense tends to carry over to the following game and suggests that these teams don’t suddenly figure things out mid-series.
Home teams off a double-digit loss in a playoff series have gone 36-63-2 ATS (36.4%) since the 2016-2017 season, per the SDQL. This is another system active as a play against the Bucks. A demoralizing loss shifts the momentum in their opponent’s favor, and teams in this situation do not typically bounce back. With the Bucks out of sync on offense and the Nets looking unstoppable, I expect this trend to continue.
With a team down 0-2 in a series and returning home, they are priced with a premium as the market and bookmakers alike will expect the team to bounce back. However, I think this is an over-adjustment, and books are being too generous to the Bucks by making them 3.5-point favorites.
Even without Harden, the Nets have shown they are the better team in this series, and laying more than a possession to this team is a dangerous proposition. I do not trust coach Mike Budenholzer and the Bucks to make adequate adjustments, and even if they do, I expect the Nets will keep it close.
I recommend a play on the Nets at +3.5 with a portion of your play on the moneyline. The moneyline odds are currently set at +140, which indicates a 41.67% implied probability of winning. I see value in taking those plus-odds and betting the Nets to win straight-up.
Pick: Nets +3.5