Just one game on the cards for this evening and it can’t get any bigger than game five between the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets. Our NBA picks have analysed the game, studied the form and laid out our analysis to bring you the winner of this clash!
Can Kevin Durant carry the Nets over the line without his two co-stars? Will Giannis and the Bucks win their third straight and head home with a 3-2 series lead? We have all of the answers for you below in tonight’s edition of the NBA picks!
Milwaukee Bucks @ Brooklyn Nets (Game 5) – 8:30pm EDT
After leaving their home court with a commanding 2-0 series lead, the Brooklyn Nets return to it tied at 2-2 with all of the momentum going against them. The Milwaukee Bucks took care of business in games three and four, setting up an intriguing three game mini-series with a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals on the line.
Brooklyn actually saw themselves with an 11 point lead early in the second quarter but saw that quickly erased. The Bucks went on a 12-0 run spanning over 88 seconds, snatching the lead and never looking back. Including that run, Milwaukee went on a 41-14 run over the second and third periods, compounded by the fact that Kyrie Irving went down with an ankle injury that will keep him out of game five, and possibly more.
We’ve got a tied series 👀
Bucks handle the Nets, 107-96
Giannis: 34 PTS | 12 REB pic.twitter.com/mOT9aVOk6o
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 13, 2021
Kevin Durant, who is now the last member of Brooklyn’s Big Three that is available to play, was tasked with carrying the load for the Nets, but started the third quarter by going 0-5 over a six minute stretch and the game was already out of reach by that stage. He finished with team highs of 28 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, but will need to reach even greater heights in game five, with Irving and James Harden sidelined.
This has been made especially tough in this series with PJ Tucker hounding him whenever he has the ball. Steve Nash has made comments suggesting that Tucker’s defense on Durant has extended further than typical basketball behaviour, but comments don’t stop what is happening on the court. When Durant is guarded by the overly physical Tucker, everything is harder for him, shooting just 9/25 (36%) from the field in game four, well down from his 53.7% average from the regular season.
Durant will have to carry the load offensively, all while guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo on the other end. This is a task that has proved to be quite challenging through the first four games, with the two-time MVP averaging 29.75 points per game, highlighted by his game high 34 on Sunday. Antetokounmpo continues to thrive in the restricted area, but may be bailing the Nets out by taking so many threes. So far this series, he has shot just 4/21 from behind the arc, including 2/13 in games three and four.
Luckily for Antetokounmpo, the rest of the Bucks made 15 threes in game four, 16 total for the game, and had their best three point shooting percentage of the series (34%), albeit still lower than their regular season average (38%). Khris Middleton made a team high three triples in game four, scoring 19 points and adding eight assists, two steals and two blocks with it. Jrue Holiday, while still struggling to find his shot, finished with 14 points and a game high nine assists, thriving as a playmaker, especially in pick and roll situations.
The Nets don’t have “a great expectation” that Kyrie Irving plays in Game 5, per @wojespn
James Harden has made “progress” but could also miss Tuesday’s game pic.twitter.com/PDutp5QhK1
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 14, 2021
With the game headed back to Brooklyn, the momentum is entirely in the favour of Milwaukee, but they will have to do something that is yet to be done in these playoffs. The Nets are a perfect 5-0 at home so far this postseason, including an average winning margin of 18.8 points. Just eight days ago, the last game in Brooklyn, the Nets beat Milwaukee by a massive 39 points.
However, things seem to be different now. The Bucks are playing much harder defensively, keeping Brooklyn to 83 and 96 points in games three and four respectively, plus Irving is now sidelined. The focus will solely be on Kevin Durant and whether he will be able to put on a performance for the ages and will his team over the line by himself. Unfortunately, game four showed that he will struggle to do so and Milwaukee will come into Brooklyn and steal game five, heading back home for game six with a 3-2 series lead.
**Update – James Harden is confirmed to return after missing the last 3 games with a hamstring injury. This certainly gives Brooklyn more of a chance, but we are still siding with the Bucks**
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.
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