NBA Basketball: Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks Game 7 Preview, Odds and Prediction - 06/19/2021

by Al McMordie

Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks Game 7 Preview, Odds and Prediction - 06/19/2021
 
Game Time:  8:35 pm, Saturday, June 19, 2021
 
Venue:  Barclays Center
 
Where to Watch:  TNT Network; NBA League Pass
 
Regular Season record:
Brooklyn: 48-24 (2nd, Eastern Conference)
Milwaukee:  46-26 (3rd, Eastern Conference)
 
Opening Odds:
DraftKings:  Brooklyn -1.5, 215; Moneyline:  Brooklyn -122; Milwaukee +100
Bet365:  Milwaukee -1, 216; Moneyline:  Milwaukee -115; Brooklyn -105
BetRivers:  Brooklyn -1.5, 215; Moneyline:  Brooklyn -122; Milwaukee +100
 
Key Injuries:
Brooklyn:  Kyrie Irving (ankle) Out; Spencer Dinwiddie (ACL) Out
Milwaukee:  Donte DiVincenzo (ankle) Out; Jordan Nwora (thigh) Out
 
Starting Lineups:
 
Brooklyn:
G James Harden
G Joe Harris
F Kevin Durant
F Jeff Green
C Blake Griffin
 
Milwaukee:
G Jrue Holiday
G Khris Middleton
F Giannis Antetokounmpo
F PJ Tucker
C Brook Lopez
 
Statistical Leaders:
 
Brooklyn:
Points:  Kevin Durant (26.9)
Rebounds:  James Harden (8.5)
Assists:  James Harden (10.9)
 
Milwaukee:
Points:  Giannis Antetokounmpo (28.1)
Rebounds:  Giannis Antetokounmpo (11.0)
Assists:  Jrue Holiday (6.1)
 
Coaches:
 
Brooklyn:  Steve Nash (1st season)
Milwaukee:  Mike Budenholzer (3rd season)
 
Recent Form:
 
These two teams met on Thursday night for Game 6 in Milwaukee. Milwaukee was favored by 4.5 points, and the total was 220.  The Brooklyn Nets entered that game with a 3-2 series lead, so it was an elimination game for the Bucks.  But Milwaukee sprinted out to an 18-5 lead in the first quarter, and finished the quarter with a 26-19 lead.  In the 2nd quarter, the Nets’ James Harden (who is battling a hamstring injury) came alive, but Milwaukee closed the half strong — helped by a pair of 3-point buckets by Khris Middleton — to take a 59-48 lead into the half.  The teams traded punches in 3rd quarter.  Kevin Durant was big for Brooklyn, while Middleton continued to play well for Milwaukee, and the Bucks finished the 3rd quarter with a 78-67 edge.  Brooklyn could never mount a comeback, and when the final gun sounded, the Bucks earned a 104-89 victory. The Bucks covered the 4.5-point number, and it went under the total.  Middleton had a playoff career-high 38 points, while Giannis Antetokounmpo added 30.  For Brooklyn, Kevin Durant had 32 points, while James Harden contributed 16 points, on 5-for-9 shooting.
 
Milwaukee has won 7 of its last 10 games, straight-up, and is 5-5 against the spread.  The Bucks are 7-2-1 under the total over their last 10 games.
 
Brooklyn is 6-4 straight up over its last 10 games, and is 7-3 ATS. The Nets are 6-3-1 under the total over their last 10 games.
 
Neither team has shot a high percentage in this 2nd round playoff series.  Outside of the Nets shooting 52.1 percent in Game 2, each team has shot below 50 percent in each game.  Game 3 was the lowest for each team, as the Nets shot just 36.2 percent, while the Bucks weren’t much better, at 37.8 percent.  In Game 6, the Nets made 36-of-81, for 44.4 percent, while Milwaukee was 37-of-82, for 45.1 percent.
 
Series History:
 
Brooklyn and Milwaukee have met nine times this season, including six in this second round of the playoffs, and three in the regular season. Milwaukee has a 5-4 record this season, but is 4-5 ATS.  Seven of the nine meetings this season have gone under the total.  One key trend to note:  the home team has won all nine contests this year. Going back further finds Milwaukee is 21-9 straight-up, and 17-12-1 ATS since 2014.  Sixteen of the last 30 games have gone under the total.
 
Statistical Comparison:
 
Brooklyn's strength of its team is its offense.  It ranks #1 in offensive efficiency, and has a 119.00 adjusted offensive rating. Milwaukee's offense is also efficient, but ranks lower, at #7, with a 117.67 adjusted offensive rating.
 
On defense, Milwaukee has the advantage.  It ranked #10 in the NBA this season, with a 112.34 adjusted defensive ranking.  Brooklyn was one of the league's worst defensive teams in 2020-21, as it ranked #24, with an adjusted defensive ranking of 114.76.  Only the Portland Trail Blazers had a worse defense among the 16 NBA Playoff teams this season.  Of the remaining Playoff teams, the Philadelphia 76ers rank highest (#2) on defense, with an adjusted defensive rating of 108.66.
 
Margin of victory is, perhaps, the most important predictor of success, and Milwaukee has the edge here, with a 5.89 scoring margin (#3 in the NBA), while Brooklyn is 7th in the NBA, at 4.50.
 
Game 7 Preview:
 
This game on Saturday night is a winner-take-all Game 7.  It will be broadcast on the TNT Network, and can also be seen on NBA League Pass.  Brooklyn opened as a 1.5-point home favorite at DraftKings, with a total of 215.  Brooklyn opened as a moneyline favorite of -122, with Milwaukee at +100.  Currently, at DraftKings, the point spread has Brooklyn as a 1-point favorite, while the over/under line is 215.  And Brooklyn is -114 on the moneyline, while Milwaukee's moneyline odds are -106.
 
Historically, the higher seeds have done quite well in Game 7s in NBA history, as they’re 109-31 (77.9%) over the previous 140 games. And, since 1991, the higher-seeded teams have gone 54-18 straight-up, and 40-31-1 ATS.  With respect to the over/under, Game 7s have generally been lower-scoring affairs, and the under is 42-29-1 since 1991.
 
Brooklyn has played three previous Game 7s in its franchise’s NBA history, and has a 1-2 record.  Most recently, Brooklyn was involved in a Game 7 vs. Toronto in the 2014 playoffs.  That was one of the rare times a road team was victorious, as Brooklyn won, 104-103, as a 3-point road underdog.  Kevin Durant has played in four Game 7s, and has a 3-1 record.  Meanwhile, James Harden also has a 3-1 record in his career Game 7s.
 
Milwaukee has been in the league much longer than Brooklyn, and has played in 10 previous Game 7s.  Unfortunately for Bucks fans, their team has not had great success in these games, as the Bucks have gone 2-8.  Indeed, the last time Milwaukee reached the NBA Finals was in 1971, when Kareem Abdul Jabbar led it to the NBA title (Brooklyn has never won an NBA title, but did get to the NBA Finals in 2003, when it lost (as the New Jersey Nets) to the San Antonio Spurs).  Milwaukee’s last Game 7 occurred in 2018, when it played Boston.  The Celtics were a 5-point home favorite, and blew out Milwaukee, 112-96.  That was the only Game 7 in the careers of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.  Coach Mike Budenholzer has never coached a Game 7 as a Bucks coach, but he did when he manned the sideline for the Atlanta Hawks.  In 2014, Budenholzer’s eighth-seeded Hawks lost, 92-80, as a 6-point road underdog, to the top-seeded Indiana Pacers.
 
The oddsmakers have opened the betting odds for this Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 7 near Pk’em, so most anticipate a closely-contested matchup.  After falling behind 2-games-to-none earlier in this series, the Bucks have taken three of the last four games.  And they blew a 17-point, 3rd quarter lead in the one game they lost, so the Bucks clearly have momentum, and are brimming with confidence.  Still, that blown Game 5 should serve as a reminder of just how much talent remains on the Brooklyn side, even without an injured Kyrie Irving.  Kevin Durant poured in 49 points in that Game 5, had 17 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals, and two blocks!  Even more impressive was the fact that Durant played all 48 minutes. And a hobbled James Harden also gave everything he had, as he played 46 minutes (but only had five points, eight assists, and three rebounds, on 1-of-10 shooting).   Milwaukee was able to right itself in Game 6.  But that game was at Fiserv Forum.  As noted earlier, the higher-seeded teams have dominated Game 7s in NBA history, so it’s hard to bet against the Brooklyn Nets, given they will have home court advantage.  I expect both coaches to lean heavily on their starters, and de-emphasize their bench players.  Durant, Harden, Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Holiday should all play north of 40 minutes.  But if you're looking for possible X factors, Milwaukee's Bryn Forbes (11 points in Game 6) or Brooklyn's Bruce Brown (16 points and 11 rebounds in Game 3) could come up big.
 
Notable quotes:
 
Kevin Durant (after Game 6):  We were down four a couple of times and they pushed it, I mean they responded after every run we made and we got to give them credit for that….[We] just couldn’t get over the hump.
 
Steve Nash (after Game 6):  We weren’t well tonight offensively….Just not a great game from us….[But] we’ve got a Game 7 on our home floor.
 
Trends:
 
Milwaukee:
16-25 ATS on the road
17-33 ATS when not favored by more than 8 points, including 1-5 ATS as an underdog
4-8 ATS on the road off a home win
 
Brooklyn:
25-17 ATS at home
12-15 ATS off a loss
22-13 ATS vs. winning teams
 
Prediction:  Brooklyn Nets win by 10

Good luck, as always....Al McMordie.  I cashed 2 of 3 in the NBA last night (I'm now 306-240 his Basketball season), with winners on the Philadelphia 76ers and the 76ers/Hawks under.  Don't miss my Over/Under Winner in tonight's game at the Shop Picks page.  Or, better yet, go to the Subscriptions page to join for a week or month to get all of my award-winning selections.

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