NBA Playoffs Odds, Predictions, Preview for Bucks vs. Nets, Game 5: Bet Brooklyn to Cover Despite Injury Concerns (June 15)
Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: P.J. Tucker (left) and Kevin Durant.
- The Bucks head to Brooklyn for Game 5 against a shorthanded Nets team on Tuesday night at Barclays Center.
- Kevin Durant will be without both James Harden and Kyrie Irving following a pair of losses in Milwaukee.
- Austin Wang breaks down the betting value in this matchup, delivering his analysis and best bet below.
Editor’s Note: James Harden has been cleared to play Game 5. For real-time updates to these lineups, check out our Action Labs NBA lineups page.
Bucks vs. Nets Odds
|Bucks Odds||-2.5 (+100)|
|Nets Odds||+2.5 (-110)|
|Moneyline||-135 / +115|
|Time||Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds updated Tuesday at 4:25 p.m. ET and via PointsBet|
The Brooklyn Nets looked like they were going to cruise onto the Eastern Conference Finals after winning the first two games of the series without the services of James Harden against a helpless Bucks offense.
Milwaukee, though, has bounced back to tie the series at 2-2 and silence the doubters. To make matters worse for the Nets, both Harden and Kyrie Irving have been declared out for Game 5, which has made the Bucks the favorite to win the series.
The Bucks are 4-point favorites on the road in this pivotal Game 5.
The spotlight is now firmly on Kevin Durant. Can he lead this team to victory without Irving and Harden? Or will the Bucks carry forward the momentum from the consecutive wins and capitalize on the Nets’ injuries?
Let’s break down the matchup.
Bucks Must Vanquish Demons in Brooklyn
One underrated midseason move that I believed would pay dividends was the Bucks’ acquisition of P.J. Tucker. Tucker, a defensive specialist who can guard all five positions, is crucial in containing the Nets’ superstars. Where he lacks in height (6-foot-5), he makes up for with strength, physicality and basketball IQ.
Tucker did an admirable job of limiting Durant in Game 4 with his aggressive defense. However, Tucker and the Bucks were the beneficiary of favorable officiating, with the referees swallowing their whistles and letting physical play pass. I don’t expect the officials will allow Tucker to continue to hack Durant as he did in Game 4 back in Brooklyn, which could lead the Bucks’ go-to defender into early foul trouble, potentially giving the Nets an early advantage.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had a brilliant Game 4, scoring 34 points off 14-for-26 shooting. He was more aggressive in transition and often found his way into the paint, where he was able to score at ease against the Nets’ poor interior defense. However, Antetokounmpo still finds himself in love with the 3-pointer and takes more than he should, which is zero of them.
The Bucks’ offense, despite the two wins at home, still hasn’t looked sharp in this series. Milwaukee was only able to take care of business in Games 3 and 4 mainly because of Brooklyn’s ineptitude to score.
The Bucks simply don’t play as well on the road. They are only 22-18 straight-up (SU) and 16-23-1 (41%) against the spread (ATS) on the road this season, per the Sports Data Query Language database.
Look back to Games 1 and 2 in Brooklyn to see how terrible the Bucks were. While the majority of bettors pile their bets on Milwaukee, you have to wonder if you can really trust it to cover by margin.
Shorthanded Nets Look to Durant
The Nets are in trouble, but I wouldn’t completely write them off yet.
Since the beginning of April, the Nets have been fantastic at home, boasting a 14-2 SU record while going 12-3-1 (80%) ATS, per the SDQL Database. I expect Brooklyn’s offense will look much improved with some home cooking after dealing with a hostile playoff crowd in Milwaukee.
The spotlight will be on Durant to see if he can be “the man” and lead his team to victory without Harden and Irving. I expect him to return to form and have a lot of success against the much shorter Tucker.
The Bucks do not defend the 3-point shot well, but the Nets were not able to capitalize in Games 3 and 4. Brooklyn went cold and was a combined 18-for-65 (27.7%) from behind the arc, a stark contrast to its Game 1 and 2 output.
The Nets’ role players will need to step up. Only two Brooklyn players scored in double figures in Game 4, and one of them was Irving. The team was discombobulated from losing the star guard and was not able to recover after his injury.
With a day to rest, regroup and prepare for life without Irving, expect better production from the Nets’ role players on their home court.
Harris shot 47.5% from behind the arc this season and 49.7% in home games. Expect him to have a bounce-back game after two consecutive off-shooting games. The Nets will also need a strong performance from Jeff Green, who returned to the lineup in Game 3 after missing six games with a foot injury. After shaking off some rust, I think his ability to defend multiple positions can be a difference maker.
Teams off two consecutive playoff games in which they scored at least 19 points below their season average have gone 19-3 ATS, per the SDQL Database. This is active as a play on the Nets. Teams in this situation usually see some positive regression to their offense after two uncharacteristic low-scoring performances.
A large majority of the betting public will be looking to back the Bucks with Irving and Harden both out. The series price has shifted the Bucks to be heavy favorites and while I understand that sentiment, I find that there is still value with backing the home underdog in Game 5.
I originally thought this would be a high-scoring series that rewarded over bettors, but all four games have fallen way under the total. These two teams have grinded out some low-scoring games, which I think makes a close game more likely.
I expect a big game for Durant as he sets out to prove that he is the best player in the NBA. The Bucks struggle on the road while the Nets are comfortable at home. Even with Harden and Irving out, four points is too many to be giving Durant and the Nets at home.
I understand it may seem counterintuitive to back the Nets given the injuries and after two consecutive losses, but I think they will battle and cover in Game 5. My recommendation is a play on Nets +4, and I would play this down to +3.5.
Pick: Nets +4 (down to +3.5)