The Milwaukee Bucks head back to New York on Tuesday night to match up against the Brooklyn Nets for a critical Game 5. It’s time to continue our NBA Playoffs odds series and make a Bucks-Nets prediction and pick.
The Bucks hold an overall record of 6-2 in the postseason but are only 4-4 against the spread. Milwaukee is 2-2 on the road so far in the playoffs, with both losses coming to the Nets.
The Nets stand at 6-3 overall in the postseason and are 7-2 against the spread. Brooklyn is undefeated on its home floor in the playoffs so far.
Here’s how sportsbooks have set the Bucks-Nets odds.
NBA Odds: Bucks-Nets Game 5 Odds
Milwaukee Bucks -2.5 (-107)
Brooklyn Nets +2.5 (-113)
Over 220.5 Points (-110)
Under 220.5 Points (-110)
Why The Nets Could Cover The Spread
The biggest news for the Nets is the possible availability of James Harden. Harden has been upgraded twice from his original out status, moving to doubtful and then questionable on Tuesday. The Beard reportedly plans to play barring a setback in warmups.
This is massive news for Nets bettors. Brooklyn is obviously a much improved team with Harden in the lineup.
The Nets’ newest star has only played 43 seconds in the Milwaukee series so far. In the Celtics series, Harden averaged 23.2 points. 8.8 assists, and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 55.6% from the field and 47.5% from 3.
With Kyrie Irving out, Brooklyn badly needs their best playmaker back on the floor. It was clear in Game 4 that Kevin Durant would not be able to hold down the fort by himself against a stacked Milwaukee team.
Assuming Harden plays and is able to stay healthy, the Nets should be rejuvenated. Brooklyn has struggled mightily to score the ball of late, failing to top 100 points in both Games 3 and 4. The Beard will change that. In the 41 games that Harden has played in a Brooklyn uniform, the Nets have failed to reach triple digits just once. The one time came against Dallas with both Durant and Irving sidelined.
The biggest boost we’ll see from Harden’s addition in Game 5 will be the Nets’ 3-point shooting. Brooklyn shot 25.0% from deep in Game 3 and 30.3% in Game 4.
Even if Harden doesn’t play significant minutes, this number is bound to go up. Harden sucks in defenders with dribble drives and is excellent at finding his open teammates, who should get much more quality looks. Additionally, Nets shooters are too good to put up three atrocious shooting games in a row.
Brooklyn is undefeated on its home floor this postseason. Expect the home crowd and the likely return of Harden to have the Nets juiced and ready to go from the tip.
Why The Bucks Could Cover The Spread
After going down 0-2 in the series, many wrote the Bucks off as doomed to fall short of the Eastern Conference Finals for another year. Instead, two games later, Milwaukee is favored to win the series.
Of course, it took some Nets bad luck to get to this point. Harden hasn’t played a full minute against the Bucks, and Irving will miss this matchup after missing a good portion of Game 4.
Still, the bookmakers have made the correct move in marking the Bucks as favorites in Game 5, for multiple reasons.
One, we have no idea how many quality minutes James Harden will play. Harden might suit up, but we don’t know how fit he is. We’ve already seen one star try to play through injury in the postseason (Anthony Davis) and exit early. Hopefully, Harden is healthier than AD was, but it remains to be seen.
Secondly, this Bucks team has been completely rejuvenated in their last two matchups. Game 4 was a particularly high point for the Bucks’ supporting cast. Milwaukee finally clicked on the offensive end, getting 20-plus points from Giannis and having five Bucks score double digits in the same game for the first time all series.
The Bucks had every player play their role to perfection. P.J. Tucker played bulldog defense on Kevin Durant and hit his corner 3s. Khris Middleton got key buckets when needed. Jrue Holiday mixed distribution in with scoring, coming an assist away from a double-double.
Perhaps most importantly, Giannis has found his groove. In two games in Milwaukee, the Bucks star averaged 33.5 points and 13.0 rebounds, as opposed to 26.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game in Brooklyn.
The key for the Bucks will be Giannis’ shot selection and distribution. For some reason, Giannis shot 13 3-pointers in Milwaukee. This number should be closer to one or two 3-pointers a game. When the Bucks star pulls up for 3, it’s a win for the defense.
Expect Giannis to come out with his head down in Game 5, looking to get to the bucket and either score or find an open teammate.
Final Bucks-Nets Game 5 Prediction & Pick
I fully expect Harden to suit up for this game, and he will make an impact. But it’s doubtful he tops 25 minutes, and there’s only so much one player can do in half a game. We saw what happened in Game 4 when Durant was forced to go at it by himself. Assuming Harden isn’t full strength and KD will have to play heavy minutes with just his role players, Milwaukee has the firm upper hand. Give me the Bucks to cover on the road and get their first postseason win at Barclays.
FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: MIL 117, BKN 110 (MILWAUKEE BUCKS -2.5)