Nets vs. Bucks Odds
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
Finally, the NBA season is upon us!
Opening night starts off with a bang as the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks host the Brooklyn Nets in a rematch from their epic seven-game Eastern Conference semifinals this past postseason.
In case you’ve forgotten, there was no shortage of drama in that series. First, the Nets got off to a quick 2-0 lead after winning both home games even without James Harden. However, the tide shifted to the Bucks after Kyrie Irving got injured in Game 4 and the Bucks evened the series at home.
Next, the “Kevin Durant Game” happened; he played all 48 minutes of Game 5 and put up a legendary 49-point performance in a thrilling, comeback win against the Bucks. Harden returned from his hamstring injury to even out the playing field. However, the Bucks took care of business at home behind an excellent performance from Khris Middleton in Game 6.
Finally, Game 7 did not disappoint. Both teams traded leads in the fourth quarter. Just when you thought the Nets were done, Durant hits a clutch, fade-away jump shot to tie the game at the buzzer. It was glorious!
The Bucks persevered in overtime and went on to win the NBA championship after several years of disappointing playoff exits.
In Tuesday’s night matchup, the Nets will return to Milwaukee and watch the Bucks raise the championship banner and receive their rings. After such a hard-fought series, the Nets will be seeking revenge against Giannis Antetokounmpo for the heartbreaking elimination.
The Bucks are currently short home favorites. After being as high as 240.5, the total has seen downward movement and currently sits at 237.5 in a move that I agree with. Let’s dig into the matchup below.
Kyrie Irving’s Absence Looms Large Over Brooklyn
Despite Brooklyn making some strong offseason moves, the news on Irving is stealing all the spotlight. His current vaccination status makes him unavailable for all Nets’ home games. As a result, the Nets have not permitted him to play or practice for the Nets until he can be a “full-time member of the team”. Without Irving, the Nets will be missing one of the more prolific scorers in the NBA.
The Nets have signed veteran guard Patty Mills from the San Antonio Spurs. Mills, a 38.8% 3-point shooter, is the first of a few veteran signings that will improve the depth of this Nets squad. He will presumably come off the bench and look to provide a scoring spark that the Nets were lacking last season. Playing next to Harden and Durant will provide him plenty of open looks and an opportunity to succeed.
Two other strong additions to the Nets’ frontcourt are Paul Millsap and the LaMarcus Aldridge. Millsap is a versatile big man who can provide scoring from inside and out, while providing veteran leadership and a defensive presence. LMA is returning to the NBA after briefly retiring due to an irregular heartbeat.
On paper, this looks like an improved Nets team. However, they may struggle to integrate several new pieces on offense as they adjust to life without Irving. They will need some time to develop a rhythm and chemistry together.
Millsap and Aldridge have both thrived in a half-court setting, which means that their offense could slow down while they are in the game.
The NBA will also be implementing rule changes to prevent “non-basketball moves” in an effort to draw fouls. This works to the detriment of Harden, who’s crafty game is centered around foul-baiting.
I anticipate the referees will look to set the tone with enforcing the rules on national television in the season’s first game. I can see fewer free throw attempts, which will lead to a lower overall scoring game.
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The Bucks Are Great, But Not Better
Last season, the Bucks finished fourth in Offensive Rating and ninth in Defensive Rating, per NBA Advanced Stats. They joined the Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers as the only four teams to finish in the top 10 for both categories.
During the offseason, the Bucks did not make any big splashes.
The most impactful loss is the departure of 36-year old P.J. Tucker to the Miami Heat in free agency. His hard-nosed style of play makes him a fan favorite everywhere he goes. He did an admirable job trying to contain Durant in their playoff matchup, but at his age, his athleticism has declined and his corner 3-pointer is not as automatic as it once was.
Grayson Allen is an underrated addition to this Bucks team, who will bring some scoring versatility and energy (or peskiness) on defense. He’s had a stellar preseason and seems primed for a big role and can contribute immediately.
They re-signed energetic big man Bobby Portis to a new deal. He really showed his impact off the bench in their series wins against the Atlanta Hawks and the Phoenix Suns. However, Portis is not quick enough to guard Durant.
With Tucker gone, Antetokounmpo will likely draw the assignment of guarding Durant and will need to exert more energy on defense.
Playoff rematches early in the season (game No. 5 or earlier) have gone 18-7 to the under since 2015, per my personal database based off the Sports Data Query Language. These teams have a stronger familiarity with one another having gone through a grueling playoff series and tend to play harder on defense, which leads to a tendency to go under.
These teams played each other a total of 10 times last season and have already met in the preseason as well. Those 10 games went 7-3 to the under overall and 5-0 to the under in Milwaukee, per our Bet Labs tool. The teams combined to average 206.7 points per game in their playoff series.
It is unfair to compare the scoring output in a playoff series to the regular season. The defensive intensity increases, the pace slows down and teams are fatigued from a long season. However, none of the seven games even surpassed 230 points. Expecting these two teams to exceed 239 points is too aggressive.
I do expect the Nets to start off with a bit more defensive intensity after witnessing the Bucks’ ring ceremony. The Nets could struggle to score as they try to adjust to life without Irving and trying to integrate new rotation players into the mix.
I anticipate Harden leading a more concentrated, half-court offense where we can see another lower-scoring game than expected. Finally, I think the new NBA rule changes to prohibit foul-baiting could adversely impact the scoring.
The money and tickets seem to be expecting a shootout; however, my model and analysis makes the fair total of this game closer to 236. This total is moving fast, but I would play the under down to 237.
Pick: Under 237.5 (down to 237)