With help from the Milwaukee Bucks the Brooklyn Nets took over the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They’ll have to beat two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo’s squad to maintain their slight edge. The two NBA heavyweights collide on Saturday in the first of consecutive games. Facing a similar situation last week, the Bucks swept the 76ers upsetting the top of the East standings, though they remain in third place in what is basically a three-team sprint to the finish line. The teams will meet again in Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
This NBA matchup takes place on Sunday, May 2, 2021 and will air live on ABC with tip off at 3:30 p.m. ET from Fiserv Forum.
Brooklyn Nets vs Milwaukee Bucks Odds
Spread: Brooklyn Nets +2 | Milwaukee Bucks -2
Money Line: Brooklyn Nets +110 | Milwaukee Bucks -130
Season to Date
The Bucks were at their best last week when they swept Philly in a two-game set with the offense clicking. Their 132-94 win on Apr. 24 ended a stretch of 12 games where they scored at least 120 points nine times cashing the OVER in seven of those games. The Bucks are the highest scoring team in the NBA averaging 119.2 points, but they haven’t been as good defensively leading to stretches of inconsistent play.
They’ve endured six losing streaks of two or more games this season, something that didn’t happen until two-thirds of the way through last season. There was some distressing news from their game against Houston on Thursday when Antetokounmpo sustained an ankle injury that forced him out. We don’t yet know the extent of the injury, though there’s a chance Giannis sits to preserve him for the playoffs. The Bucks are 5-4 in games Giannis hasn’t played.
The Nets became the first team in the East to clinch a playoff spot and their sights are on bigger things. Hopefully for their sake they have their roster intact. It’s getting close with the return of Kevin Durant, but they are still without James Harden and their big three of KD, Harden and Kyrie Irving have played together in just seven games since Harden arrived in January.
Still, the Nets have put together a solid season going 43-20 SU and 33-30 ATS through their first 63 games. And if you think winning the East isn’t a big deal, consider that the top team will have to play one of the other top clubs just once. The Nets beat Milwaukee 125-123 in the first meeting back in January. The two highest scoring teams in the NBA easily cashed the OVER in that contest.
Sweeping the Sixers last week showed us just why the Bucks are a major threat to win the NBA title. They do need to overcome their inconsistencies, though. Following those wins the Bucks lost in Atlanta and needed a comeback to take the Hornets. Those results left them at 9-9 SU and 8-10 ATS in their last 18 games. Not only is Giannis the MVP he’s also a team leader and he’s not too concerned about the teams recent play.
“As long as we build good culture around this team we are going to be in a very good place,” Antetokounmpo said. They’d be in a better place if The Freak is on the floor. Already playing on a sore ankle, he was hurt in the Rockets game and his status moving forward is unknown. Giannis is again putting up MVP-type numbers, but this squad is more equipped to handle his loss than it was in previous seasons.
Despite everything the Nets have gone through this season they are in the driver’s seat to take home the top spot in the East. They also proved that they are more than the Big Three. They haven’t had Durant, Irving and Harden on the floor together much, but the Nets have had a combination of two of those guys and that’s worked out well for them. Durant dropped 42 in a win over the Pacers with the Nets improving to a league best 29-8 since Feb. 10.
The Nets have been making money for their backers lately as well. Their payout over the Pacers was their fourth straight moving them to 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games. They will be playing their third game in four days when they visit Milwaukee on Sunday, but at least they had an off day before the showdown. That should allow Irving sufficient time to heal his groin injury and return to the lineup.
Nets at Bucks Prediction
Our picks: Brooklyn Nets and OVER
We could be without some big names for this showdown which will certainly impact the amount of points scored. Antetokounmpo averages over 28 points to lead the Bucks and tallied 34 in the first meeting. His ankle issue leaves him in limbo for this game. We won’t see Harden on the other side and Irving is still recovering leaving a bushel of points on the bench. Still, both clubs play at pace and like to push the ball so the OVER is a smart play.