The second round of the NBA postseason kicks off Saturday with an Eastern Conference showdown between the No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks and the No. 2 Brooklyn Nets. The Nets will host this one at the Barclays Center, with tipoff scheduled for 7:30 pm ET.
The Bucks got to this point by decimating the Miami Heat in a four-game sweep in the first round. Their last game was one week ago, as they beat Miami 120-103 last Saturday. While extra rest can always help at this point of the season, the Bucks will also look to knock off the rust as they return to game action.
The Brooklyn Nets also made quick work of their opponent in round one as they beat the Boston Celtics four games to one. Their clinching win came last Tuesday as they beat Boston 123-109 at home.
The Nets are the favorites in this one playing at home. They are -166 to win while the Bucks’ moneyline is +140. The spread features Milwaukee +3.5 (-110), and the over/under for total points is 239.5.
By The Numbers
This season, these two teams have been the best in all of the basketball on the offensive side. The Bucks rank atop the list in scoring, averaging 120 points per game. The Nets rank second, averaging 118.9 points per game.
While they both rank atop the scoring list, they also both rank in the bottom third in scoring defense. Milwaukee ranks 21st, allowing opponents 113.4 points per game. The Nets rank 22nd allowing 113.9 points per game.
Bucks Look For Continued Success Against Nets
During the regular season, these two teams matched up three times, with the Bucks taking two of the three contests. In fact, the Bucks took back-to-back games with the Nets on May 2 and May 4. While both of those games were at home, the Bucks will look to keep their success going against the Nets starting Saturday.
Leading the way for Milwaukee is forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. In the first round of the playoffs, the “Greek Freak” averaged 23.5 points, 15 rebounds, and 7.8 assists per game.
Aside from Antetokounmpo, others that have been major contributors thus far this postseason include Khris Middleton (21.5 points, 6.8 rebounds), Brook Lopez (15.8 points, 6.8 rebounds), Jrue Holiday (15.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 9.8 assists), and Bryn Forbes (15 points, 2.8 rebounds).
Nets Look To Take Advantage Of Home Court
At 48-24, the Brooklyn Nets were the second-best team in the Eastern Conference. While they were solid overall, they were especially dominant at the Barclays Center, playing to a 28-8 record this season. They will look to continue this dominance as they host the opening game Saturday.
The Nets truly have a three-headed monster in Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, arguably the best trio in the league. In the first round, Durant averaged 32.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, and three assists.
For Harden, he was also exceptional averaging 27.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 10.6 assists. Not to be outdone, Irving averaged 24.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists.
The one concern for Brooklyn is their depth. Milwaukee has more depth and size, but Brooklyn’s trio of Durant, Harden, and Irving probably trump Giannis, Middleton, and Holiday.
Taking Brooklyn To Win And Cover
While it is true that Milwaukee took two of three during the regular season, they never saw the Nets at full strength. In the three contests, Kyrie Irving sat out the first matchup while James Harden sat out the last two.
Now, Milwaukee will have to deal with a Nets team at full strength and hungry for a title. Especially with Brooklyn playing on their home court, expect them to come out and make a statement in this one.
Take the Nets to not only win but to cover the modest 3.5-point spread as well.