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Bucks jump out to early lead, withstand several runs to defeat Nets 127-104 on opening night

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton pace the defending champions past the odds-on favorites to kick off the 2021-22 NBA season.

Brooklyn Nets v Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks is fouled by Nicolas Claxton of the Brooklyn Nets during the first half of the season opener at the Fiserv Forum on October 19, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 32 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, and Khris Middleton added 20 points and nine boards as the defending champions Milwaukee Bucks took down the odds-on title favorites Brooklyn Nets on opening night 127-104. Milwaukee jumped out to a 31-12 lead in the first quarter and withstood several mini-runs from Brooklyn over the course of the game.

The Bucks closed as 1.5-point favorites, covering the spread easily. The over/under closed at 234, meaning the under hit. Milwaukee was favored on the moneyline.

Antetokounmpo had 13 points and eight rebounds in a massive first quarter for Milwaukee. The Bucks used a 31-12 advantage to eventually lead 37-25. The Nets had several big runs over the course of the game, cutting Milwaukee’s lead to single digits multiple times. Patty Mills, a contender for Sixth Man of the Year, really showed out for the Nets. He finished with 21 points, going 7-7 from behind the arc.

Kevin Durant and James Harden were solid for Brooklyn, contributing 32 and 20 points respectively. Harden had trouble initiating the offense at times in pick-and-roll sets, but the real problem for Brooklyn came on the defensive end. The Nets struggled to contain Milwaukee’s drives and failed to close out stops in key situations with a rebound.

Jordan Nwora was the breakout star for Milwaukee in this game, recording 15 points off the bench. He had a key floater to close out the third quarter to give the Bucks a 97-85 advantage. Pat Connaughton added 20 points as well.

The Bucks could be without point guard Jrue Holiday for a while, as he suffered a heel contusion in the first half. Holiday did not return to the floor after the injury, and the severity of the contusion remains to be seen. The defending champions looked good in the opener though, and they’ll be confident after this win moving forward.