The No. 2 seed Brooklyn Nets and the No. 3 seed Milwaukee Bucks both took care of business in their respective first-round series’ and will now duel with each other in a best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series beginning on Saturday, June 5 at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
Three former MVP’s headline this star-studded second-round series so we’ll take a look at the odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook and determine who will be booking a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Coming off a fairly quick, yet emotional first-round win over Boston, Brooklyn enters this series as the favorite with the correct score lines going as far as tabbing them to topple the Bucks in five.
Stepping on the court together for an extended stretch for the first time all season, Brooklyn’s ‘Big 3’ excelled with Kevin Durant averaging 32.6 points on 54.6 percent shooting, James Harden averaging a double-double of 27.8 points and 10.6 assists, and Kyrie Irving in the face of controversy surrounding him and Boston fans posting 24.8 points and 6.4 rebounds throughout the series. The Nets were also efficient with their scoring, shooting 42.6 percent from three as a team and took 10 less shots a game than their counterparts in Milwaukee did during their first-round series.
The Bucks, meanwhile, were busy dominating the defending Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat in a four-game game sweep. Giannis Antetokounmpo posted an impressive 23.5 point, 15 board average throughout the series and was backed up by Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, who distributed the ball well with 9.8 assists per game in the series.
Milwaukee made their bones on the defensive end, completely flipping last year’s second-round meltdown by holding the Heat to just 33.6 percent shooting from three. The Bucks had the most effective defense in the first round of the playoffs with the top four spots in defensive win shares belonging to Middleton, Holiday, Brook Lopez, and Antetokounmpo.
Who will win the series?
It’s hard to imagine this series not going long considering that all three regular season games between Brooklyn and Milwaukee were decided by six points or less.
The Nets offense is a proverbial cheat code with Durant, Harden, and Irving all capable of lighting it up at any time along with Joe Harris knocking down threes as well. However, their superstar trio having all battled various injuries this year, there’s a question of how whether or not they can hold up their intensity on both sides of the floor as the playoffs wear on and the games start to slow down.
That’s where a team like Milwaukee can make Brooklyn pay defensively by throwing off their efficiency while creating extra opportunities on their own end of the floor (the Bucks lead all playoff teams in offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities). Combine this with players like Bryn Forbes and Bobby Portis averaging double-digit points and one could see Milwaukee taking this series in six.
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