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Bucks vs. Nets Odds, Picks, Betting Predictions: Is the Total Too High in Game 1? (Saturday, June 5)

Bucks vs. Nets Odds, Picks, Betting Predictions: Is the Total Too High in Game 1? (Saturday, June 5) article feature image

Steven Ryan/Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin Durant.

  • The Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets meet for Game 1 of their second-round playoff series, with the winner being the favorite to chase down an NBA title.
  • The teams met three times during the regular season, but the Nets were never at full strength.
  • Austin Wang explains below why there is value on the Bucks vs. Nets total, regardless of how high it may seem.

Bucks vs. Nets Game 1 Odds

Bucks Odds+4.5
Nets Odds-4.5
Moneyline+155 / -182
TimeSaturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings

The Eastern Conference Semifinals have arrived and the star-powered showdown between the No. 2 seed Brooklyn Nets and the No. 3 seed Milwaukee Bucks is finally here.

As Matt Moore suggested in his series preview, this may serve as the de-facto NBA Finals with the two best remaining teams, as the Lakers have been eliminated, and the 76ers, Jazz, Suns and Nuggets are all dealing with an injury to a key player.

Here are the results of their three regular season matchups:

  • Jan. 18: Nets win 125-123 in a thriller at home without Kyrie Irving.
  • May 2: Bucks win 117-114 at home behind Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 49 points with Harden out for the Nets.
  • May 4:  Bucks win 124-118 at home once again against the Harden-less Nets in a two-game series with another strong 36-point performance from Antetokokumpo.

We haven’t seen these two teams play at full strength just yet, but Antetokounmpo was unstoppable in their regular-season series. How will the Nets plan to guard him? How will the Bucks determine defensive assignments against the “Big Three” of the Nets? There are some interesting matchup storylines at play here that we will watch unfold in Game 1.

The Nets have opened up as 4.5-point favorites at home, and the total is at a hefty 239.5, the highest total ever in an NBA playoff game. I believe these two elite offensive teams will be putting up plenty of points at a fast pace. See my breakdown below to see why the betting value lies in the total.

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Is Giannis’ Supporting Cast Enough for Bucks?

The Bucks hope to exorcize their playoff demons this season after consecutive, disappointing playoff exits. However, the Brooklyn Nets, the league’s best offense and current favorites to win the championship, stand in their way. The Bucks are well-built to combat the Nets with strong defenders such as Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, P.J. Tucker and of course, Antetokokumpo. But, will it be enough?

Holiday has been such a valuable addition. The two-way point guard has been an excellent right-hand man for Antetokounmpo this season, accounting for the Bucks’ second most Win Shares (6.6), per Basketball Reference. He is shooting over 50% from the field and is able to run an offense, but also put pressure on Kyrie Irving on defense.

One underrated mid-season move that I believe will pay dividends is the acquisition of P.J. Tucker. Tucker, a defensive specialist that can guard all five positions, will be crucial in containing the Nets’ superstars. Where he lacks in height (6-foot-5), he makes up for with strength, physicality and IQ.

To conserve Giannis’s energy, I think the Bucks may start by assigning Tucker to guard Durant at times, but with the height discrepancy between the two players, I think Durant easily scores on Tucker. Durant averaged 31.6 points per game in the 12 playoffs game they’ve faced off between the Warriors and the Rockets back in 2018 and 2019, per the SDQL.

Donte DiVincenzo is out for the season for the Bucks, so Milwaukee’s depth takes a hit. The biggest beneficiary of minutes in his absence will be Bryn Forbes, who stepped and hit seven 3-pointers in Game 4 to spark a comeback win in the elimination game against the Heat. However, their defense suffers a bit as Forbes is little known outside of gunning threes.

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Nets Offense Should Continue To Roll

The Nets finished the season with the best Offensive Rating (117.3) of all time, easily topping the 2019-2020 Dallas Mavericks (115.9). Keep in mind that this was with each of their stars missing significant time: Durant (missed 37 games), Harden (14) and Irving (18).

Their offensive arsenal was on full display in Round 1 as they had an Offensive Rating of 128.0, per NBA Advanced Stats. Granted, they played against the much inferior Celtics, but their defense still allowed Jayson Tatum to be a one-man wrecking ball. Imagine how easy it will be for Antetokounmpo to score against a subpar Nets interior defense.

Blake Griffin has permanently replaced DeAndre Jordan in the lineup. Jordan did not play a single minute in the Celtics series and has racked up 10 straight DNPs. Going small has given them a boost in offense as the On/Off numbers show that Brooklyn’s Offensive Rating increases by 5.6 points when Griffin is on the court, per Basketball Reference.

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. They did not defend the three well, and with sharpshooters in their “Big Three” along with Joe Harris, I think the Nets will be very successful behind the arc.

Since 2016, teams off two consecutive games with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.75 or greater are 175-109-7 (61.6%) to the over, per the SDQL database. This is active on the Nets, who finished the last two games with an excellent assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.22 and 3.25. I expect the Nets offense to continue to click and put a lot of pressure on the Bucks.

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Bucks-Nets Pick

The total is at 239.5, which may worry many bettors, especially in the playoffs when pace slows down considerably and the defense typically ramps up. I expect the pace in this series to be fast, as the average pace in the three regular-season games was 103.1 possessions per 48 minutes.

In Game 1, I anticipate these highly-efficient offenses to thrive and flourish before each team makes their respective defensive adjustments. I anticipate each team to hold off on having Antetokounmpo and Durant guard each other full-time to conserve some of their energy on the offensive end. Antetokounmpo has had his way with the Nets in the regular season, and I don’t expect it to stop now, especially with Durant and Griffin in the frontcourt.

Totals higher than 239 and over have gone 27-12-3 to the over (69.2%) this season, per the SDQL. More specifically, totals 239 and over featuring the Nets and Bucks have gone 11-4-1 (73.3%) and 7-1-1 (87.5%) to the over, respectively. Your cognitive biases may veer you into thinking this total is too high, but the stats show you the reality, and I expect no different from this game with all superstars healthy and ready to go.

I recommend a play on the over at the total of 239.5. My projections have this total to be at 242. I would play the over up to 241.

Pick: Over 239.5 (up to 241)

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