The 2020-21 NBA playoffs have already seen their fair share of twists and turns. Through two games of the Bucks-Nets series, Milwaukee looked like they would be lucky to avoid a sweep. Now, just a few days later, the Bucks are the odds-on favorites to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Milwaukee bounced back from back-to-back losses in Brooklyn to take Games 3 and 4 at home. They have been helped by injuries in the series, however, as the Nets have seen both James Harden and Kyrie Irving go down. Harden left less than a minute into Game 1 with a hamstring injury, while Irving sprained his ankle in Sunday’s Game 4.
It hasn’t been pretty, but the Bucks are now in the driver’s seat. Irving will miss Game 5 on Tuesday night in Brooklyn, while Harden has been upgraded from “out” to “doubtful.” Harden plans to test his injury pregame to determine whether he can come to the Nets’ rescue, but he’s still likely to sit this one out.
With his two co-stars likely watching from the sidelines tonight, Kevin Durant will have no choice but to take center stage in Game 5. KD has averaged 29.8 points per game through the first four games of the series, but he struggled against PJ Tucker on Sunday. Durant still scored a team-high 28 points, but he was limited to just 9-for-25 shooting from the field. That came on the heels of a similarly poor 11-for-28 showing in Game 3.
Durant was lights-out in each of the first two games of the series, so we’ll see whether moving back home for Game 5 will do him some good. The Nets have the most explosive offense in the league when they’re operating at full capacity, but things could get a bit stagnant with Irving and Harden out of the mix. The Bucks know that Durant is really the only player capable of beating them offensively, so expect Milwaukee to try and smother KD all night long in this one.
— Atlanta Hawks Playoff Mode Activated! (@TheDawgzilla) June 13, 2021
If the Bucks are smart, they’ll try and force the Nets’ ancillary players to try and beat them. Brooklyn failed to top 100 points in Games 3 or 4, and Durant had zero help on Sunday. Irving (11) was the only other player on the team to crack double figures in Game 4, with Blake Griffin, Joe Harris, Jeff Green, and Bruce Brown all contributing very little offensively.
Frankly, there isn’t another player on the team capable of carrying Brooklyn’s offense. If Durant endures another rough shooting night, it’s going to be difficult for the Nets to put points on the board. Harris, Griffin, and Landry Shamet will have to knock down their open looks from beyond the arc for the Nets to have much of a chance in Game 5.
Pressure On Milwaukee
The Bucks have not been the best team in the league in terms of dealing with pressure over the past couple of seasons. Milwaukee crashed out of the playoffs in back-to-back years despite finishing with the best overall record in the NBA both times. The expectations weren’t as high coming into this postseason, but the Bucks are suddenly facing a golden opportunity.
They really can’t afford to let Game 5 slip away. Harden seems to be on the verge of a return, while there’s no telling when Irving may come back. There’s a good chance that this will be the Bucks’ only shot at the Nets without two of their three stars. Whether they can actually rise to the occasion and deliver on their suddenly high expectations remains to be seen.
As teams increasingly program their offenses to generate shots from behind the 3-point arc or at the rim, midrange artists like Khris Middleton are becoming the checkmate piece every title contender needs. @RobMahoney: https://t.co/5m8h78IGNs
Obviously, Milwaukee will need its own stars to shine. Khris Middleton exploded in Game 3 after no-showing in each of the first two games, while Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with a 34-point effort in Game 4. The size of Brook Lopez has been an issue for the smaller Nets’ frontcourt in this series, while Jrue Holiday has a chance for a breakout game. Holiday has been quiet in the series to this point, but expect him to come out aggressively against the Nets’ painfully shorthanded backcourt.
I ultimately think the Bucks will emerge victorious in this game. They’re playing at near full strength, while the Nets are one poor Durant shooting game from getting blown out in this one. That said, I just have a really hard time trusting Milwaukee given their history. They weren’t particularly competitive in Games 1 and 2 in Brooklyn. They fell behind by as many as 49 points despite entering Game 2 as betting favorites.
The value is on the under in this one. This was expected to be an entertaining, high-scoring series, but the Nets’ injury woes have effectively tanked their offense. The Nets will struggle to find consistent scoring outside of Durant. The Bucks haven’t exactly lit the scoreboard on fire themselves in this series, with 107 points or less in each of the first four games.
The over/under betting option of 219.5 isn’t particularly high, but the final score has come in under that total in three of the first four contests. Bet on another low-scoring affair in Game 5.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
The information found on Gamblingsites.org is for entertainment purposes only. It is a purely informational website that does not accept wagers of any kind. Although certain pages within Gamblingsites.org feature or promote other online websites where users are able to place wagers, we encourage all visitors to confirm the wagering and/or gambling regulations that are applicable in their local jurisdiction (as gambling laws may vary in different states, countries and provinces).
Gamblingsites.org uses affiliates links from some of the sportsbooks/casinos it promotes and reviews, and we may receive compensation from those particular sportsbooks/casinos in certain circumstances. Gamblingsites.org does not promote or endorse any form of wagering or gambling to users under the age of 18. If you believe you have a gambling problem, please visit BeGambleAware or GAMCARE for information and help.