NBA Odds, Preview, Prediction for Bucks vs. Nets Game 7: Is the Milwaukee-Brooklyn Total Still Too High? (Saturday, June 19)
Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin Durant is guarded by P.J. Tucker.
- Milwaukee and Brooklyn meet for one more time in their decisive Game 7 on Saturday night.
- Both teams have protected home court thus far, with the Bucks most recently winning behind a strong performance from Khris Middleton.
- Austin Wang has focused on this game's total and explains, below, why the number is still set too high.
|Moneyline||-107 / -112|
|Time||Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings|
Game Seven. The two sweetest words in playoff basketball. The “de facto” NBA Finals, as Matt Moore described in his series preview, is coming down to one final game on Saturday night. The basketball has not been pretty, but there has been plenty of drama.
The Nets were expected to cruise past the Bucks with ease as -200 favorites before the series started. This started out great with the Nets taking the first two games at home despite losing James Harden within the first minute of Game 1.
Milwaukee, whom the world had written off at this point, fought back to tie the series at 2-2. Now, it looked like the Bucks had a strong chance of advancing with Kyrie Irving getting injured in Game 4 and Harden continuing to miss time.
Tied at 2-2, what was anticipated to be an entertaining, fast-paced and high-scoring bonanza has been a slow, grind-it-out slugfest that was marred by injuries. It lacked the theatrics and entertainment factor we expected.
Then, the “Kevin Durant Game” happened. Durant played all 48 minutes of Game 5 and put up a legendary 49-point performance in a thrilling, comeback win against the Bucks to regain control of the series.
Harden returned from his hamstring injury to even out the playing field, but the tension and drama continued as the Bucks took care of business at home behind an excellent performance from Khris Middleton in Game 6.
Now here we are. Each team has protected their homecourt, and they will face off one last time in Brooklyn for all the marbles. There are 48 minutes to determine the team that will likely go on to win the NBA championship. Can Durant and Harden fulfill their prophecy of leading their super-team to a title as they were expected to? Or will Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks finally shake off their reputation as a poor playoff team? Let’s break down this exciting Game 7.
Bucks Must Improve Play On The Road
First, let’s talk about the home and away splits. The Bucks simply don’t play as well on the road. They are only 22-19 straight-up (SU) and 16-24-1 (40%) against the spread (ATS) on the road this season, per the Sports Data Query Language database, which is a huge contrast to their 31-10 record at home.
As expected, the Bucks came out really aggressive in Game 6. They were attacking the basket and drawing fouls. They were also able to force a lot of uncharacteristic Nets turnovers that led to some nice opportunities in transition as they outscored the Nets in fast break points 26-4.
Watching the shooting performances from the Bucks will make your eyes bleed. Outside of Middleton, the rest of the Bucks went 2-for-25 from behind the arc in Game 6. Being able to dominate the game despite such an ugly shooting performance is encouraging for the Bucks.
Antetokounmpo’s stats have looked great on paper, although his game and jump shot aren’t as aesthetically pleasing. He finally got the hint that every 3-pointer he hoisted was a minus-EV play for the Bucks and did not shoot any 3-pointers in Game 6, which is a positive sign. He has become a running meme on the internet for habitually taking longer than the 10-second time limit to shoot a free throw. It hasn’t helped as he is still 21-46 from the free throw line in this series. If the game is close and becomes dependent on free throws, I like the Nets’ chances a lot better.
Jrue Holiday has been struggling with his shot all series long. Middleton has been inconsistent, with his good performances coming in their home wins. However, in road games in this series, he has gone 21-for-65 from the field (32.3%). P.J. Tucker doesn’t provide much on the offensive end, and the officiating seems to favor him the most when the Bucks are at home.
Nets Need Consistency From Role Players
Since the beginning of April, the Nets have been fantastic at home, boasting a 15-2 SU record while going 13-3-1 (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.
Kevin Durant is doing everything he can to carry this Nets team with his star teammates ailing with injuries. After a superhero performance in Game 5 where he played all 48 minutes, he looked much more human in Game 6. He only attempted two free throws and turned the ball over seven times.
Game 5 was atrocious for Harden. As a Houston Rockets fan, I’ve seen that version of Harden a few times in the playoffs before. When he is not getting the foul calls that he is accustomed to, or if his shot is not falling, he gets frustrated and becomes overly passive, making lazy passes and playing lackadaisical defense. His performance in Game 6 was much improved and Nets’ bettors should hope this carries over to this do-or-die game.
The Nets committed 16 turnovers in Game 6, which is much higher than their season-to-date average of 12.8. This led to many easy buckets for the Bucks, as they thrive in transition. Fortunately, for the Nets, they have averaged only 9.7 turnovers in their home playoff games. This is a good sign that they will protect the ball to prevent easy baskets for Milwaukee.
The Bucks do not defend the 3-point shot well, and the Nets have been able to capitalize in their home games, going a combined 52-for-124 (41.9%) in their Game 1, 2 and 5 wins. The Nets’ role players will need to step up. They got a great performance out of Jeff Green in Game 5, but Joe Harris, one of their most consistent regular season performers, has gone missing-in-action this series.
If you are looking for a pick on the side, I lean towards the Nets as they have the two best players in this series with Durant and Harden. The home and away splits have shown stark differences, and I expect the trend of the home team winning each game to continue. If this game comes down to the wire, I place much more trust in the Nets.
My official pick is on the total. Despite the expectation that this would be a fast-paced, high-scoring series, five out of the six games have gone under the total. Three of these games did not even hit 200 (Games 3, 4 and 6). The Game 1 total was 239.5, and here we are in Game 7 with a total of 215.5, an insane 24-point drop.
Game 7’s have gone 36-22 (62.1%) to the under since the 2002-2003 season, per the SDQL database. Game 7’s in Round 2 or greater have gone 22-7 (75.9%) to the under since the 2002-2003 season, per the SDQL database.
The stakes and nerves are high. The defenses usually tighten up in a Game 7. The pace has been slow for this series (97.83 possession per 48 minutes), and with Harden back and healthy, his tendency to run isolation plays will slow the game down even more. My recommendation is to bet the game to go under the total of 215 and would play this down to 213.
Pick: Under 215 (down to 213)