The Brooklyn Nets were 1-2 against the Milwaukee Bucks during the regular season. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- The Brooklyn Nets are 3.5-point home favorites over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at the Barclays Center
- The Bucks swept the Miami Heat in four games in the first round and the Nets beat the Boston Celtics in five games
- A look at the Game 1 matchup between the Bucks and Nets along with a pick can be found below
The visiting Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets begin their Eastern Conference Semifinal series at 7:30 pm ET Saturday at the Barclays Center.
The third-seeded Bucks advanced by sweeping the Miami Heat in four games in the first round. Milwaukee had a 46-26 regular season record and has won seven of its last eight games and 12 of its last 14 but are underdogs in Game 1.
The second-seeded Nets beat the Boston Celtics in five games in the first round after going 48-24 in the regular season. The Nets have won nine of their last 10 games, including five straight to end the regular season.
Bucks vs Nets Odds – Game 1
|Team||Moneyline||Spread at FanDuel||Total|
|Milwaukee Bucks||+140||+3.5 (-110)||Over 239.5 (-108)|
|Brooklyn Nets||-166||-3.5 (-110)||Under 239.5 (-112)|
Odds as of June 4th.
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Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo played through groin soreness in the first round but did not miss any games. Pat Connaughton stepped into the starting lineup after Donte DiVincenzo suffered a season-ending torn ligament in his left foot in Game 3.
Jeff Green has been ruled out of Game 1 for the Nets because of a plantar fascia strain in his foot that also sidelined him for the last three games in the first round. Alize Johnson (sprained ankle) did not play in the last two games against the Celtics and is questionable for Saturday.
Bucks vs Nets Projected Lineups
|Jrue Holiday||PG||James Harden|
|Pat Connaughton||SG||Kyrie Irving|
|Khris Middleton||SF||Joe Harris|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||PF||Kevin Durant|
|Brook Lopez||C||Blake Griffin|
Giannis Leads the Way
Unsurprisingly, Antetokounmpo led the way for the Bucks against the Heat despite being hobbled. He averaged 23.5 points, 15.0 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 1.8 steals.
Putting the exclamation point on the sweep pic.twitter.com/k4EufHvYjv
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 29, 2021
That came on the heels of another fine regular season for the two-time reigning NBA MVP, though he is not a finalist for the award this year. He had averages of 28.1 points, 11.0 rebounds and 5.9 assists.
Five Bucks finished with double-figure scoring averages in the first round – Khris Middleton (21.5), Brook Lopez (15.8), Jrue Holiday (15.3) and Bryn Forbes (15.0).
Middleton, Lopez and Holiday all averaged 6.8 rebounds. Holiday dished 9.8 assists a game and Middleton handed out 4.3.
Forbes provided a spark off the bench. He averaged 18.3 points in the last three games of the series while shooting 16-of-30 (53.3%) on three-pointers.
Bryn Forbes scored more points than Jimmy Butler in the Heat vs. Bucks series, h/t @jphanned
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) May 29, 2021
The Bucks led the NBA in scoring in the regular season with 120.1 points a game. They were fifth in offensive rating with 117.2 points per 100 possessions.
Nets Can Score, Too
Finishing second to the Bucks in scoring were the Nets, who had a 118.6 average. Brooklyn’s 118.3 offensive rating led the league.
The Nets’ Big Three of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving averaged 85.2 points against the Celtics. Durant led the way with at 32.6 while Harden finished at 27.8 and Kyrie Irving had a 24.8 mark.
Nets’ big three = 1️⃣0️⃣4️⃣ pts in one game 😱
Describe the Harden-Durant-Irving trio in one word 👇🏻#NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/AOxo6YzUth
— NBAIndia (@NBAIndia) May 31, 2021
Durant, Harden and Irving combined for 104 points in the series-clinching Game 5. That tied the NBA playoff record for most points by three teammates.
The trio did more than score against Boston, though.
Durant averaged 7.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots. Harden had averages of 10.6 assists, 7.2 rebounds and 2.0 steals. Irving grabbed 6.4 boards a game.
Clear the lane and don’t jump with him! Kevin Durant flies for the one-hand slam!#NETSonYES pic.twitter.com/2SEhvD9Mu5
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) May 30, 2021
Bucks Took Season Series
The teams played three close games during the regular season with the Bucks winning two on their home floor in the span of three days from May 2-4.
On May 2, the Bucks notched a 117-114 triumph as 2.5-point favorite. Milwaukee then won the second game 124-118 as a 1.5-point pick. Harden missed both games because of injury.
Antetokounmpo scored 49 points to offset Durant’s 42 in the first game. On May 4, Antetokounmpo dropped 42 while Irving scored 38 and Durant added 32.
The Nets won 125-123 on Jan. 18 at home as four-point underdogs despite missing an injured Durant. Antetokounmpo and Harden each scored 34 points.
Game 1 figures to be high scoring just like the regular season meetings. Also like the regular season, this game should be close.
The Bucks have the offensive firepower to hang with the Nets’ Big Three.
Pick: Bucks +3.5 (-110)
John Perrotto has been covering and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has appeared in the likes of USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and more. John is based out of Beaver Falls, PA.