The Milwaukee Bucks did what they needed to do in Game 6. That means that we’ll have a Game 7 on Saturday and the winner will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The loser will have a lot to be frustrated about. If the Bucks come up short, they’ll look at a golden missed opportunity. If the Brooklyn Nets come up short, they’ll wonder what could have been with a healthy roster.
The deciding game features Brooklyn favored by one point at home with a total of 215 at BetUS Sportsbook. We’ve seen a huge correction in the totals for this series, as the first game was 239.5 and we’ve progressively gone down from there. Depending on the source, the under is 5-0-1 in this series.
Let’s see what Game 7 could bring.
What Kevin Durant did in Game 5 was spectacular. The Milwaukee Bucks made a strong commitment to not let it happen again. After Durant put the Nets on his back in Game 5 with 49 points over 48 minutes, the Bucks focused all of their attentions on the future Hall of Famer. He still shot 50% from the floor and had 32 points, but it sure wasn’t 49.
The Bucks really sold out on the defensive end in a way that we have not seen in any other game in this series. Brooklyn only shot 44.4% from the floor and just 30% from three. The Nets also proved to be human at the free throw line with eight made shots on 14 attempts.
The honest truth is that Milwaukee has to sell out on defense because nothing has really worked on offense. The Bucks were once again inept from three, making just seven of their 33 attempts. They shot 45% from the floor, so two-point shots were falling, but the three-ball has not been a weapon for Milwaukee in this series. Typically, when you’re seeking out a series upset, the three-ball is the great equalizer. The Bucks are shooting 28% on threes in this series.
Yet, they still have a chance to win. It probably won’t be talked about that way, as the Bucks will be viewed as a team that simply got lucky that James Harden and Kyrie Irving got hurt. We could also say that the Nets have gotten lucky that Khris Middleton has had a relatively rough series and that Giannis Antetokounmpo has not been himself either.
Those two have scored with volume, but Giannis is shooting 56.5% overall and just 24% from three. Middleton has picked it up a little from distance at 37.8%, but he is only shooting 42.1% from the floor overall. The Bucks are shooting under 68% as a team at the free throw line and Giannis is shooting under 46%. It has not been a pretty series at all.
James Harden was less than 100% in Game 6, but at least his 16 points were more than the five points that he had in Game 5. Harden was 5-of-9 from the floor and continued to be more of a decoy than an actual offensive piece in the game. His Usage Rate was under 18%, as Kevin Durant took 30 of Brooklyn’s 81 field goal attempts. Harden did make a few threes, which was nice to see after an 0-for-8 performance a couple nights prior.
The harsh reality for the Nets right now is that Durant needs to find a way to get in the ballpark of 50 or the Nets have to have a monumental Game 7 defensively. Harden is clearly laboring. Joe Harris and Blake Griffin have intermittently contributed offensively. Sometimes Jeff Green has hit a shot or two. It’s the Durant Show right now and KD has to be far and away the best player on the floor.
It can happen. And, look, the Bucks are having that horrific performance from three in this series. The Nets turned the ball over 16 times against just 14 assists in Game 6. Durant is going to have to find a way to trust somebody to score, if for nothing else to eliminate any hope of transition offense for Milwaukee. It’s not like the Bucks look great in the halfcourt.
It is hard to say with a game that the Nets lost by 15, but they weren’t that far away from being in the game. Milwaukee had twice as many free throw attempts and outscored the Nets by 15 at the free throw line. That was largely it. The two teams were pretty even from the floor, but Brooklyn didn’t take care of the basketball and dug too deep of an early hole.
Bucks vs. Nets Free Pick
A lot of people will probably be surprised to see the Nets favored in Game 7 here, given that Harden has not really been a factor at all. He had two points in the second half of Game 6. It’s all on Durant. At least Giannis has some help. He’s needed it, too, as he has not had a banner series. The Bucks should win this game. They have no excuse not to, but it feels like the total is a safer play here.
We have not seen many good shooting performances in this series and Game 6 was played at the slowest pace of any. We should expect more of the same in Game 7, even with the total adjusted to the degree that it has been.
Pick: Under 215