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New-Look Nets Look to Make Statement vs Bucks

Kevin Durant and Jeff Green going over defensive assignments during the game

Brooklyn (8-6 SU, 6-8 ATS) opened the James Harden era Saturday with a win over the Magic, but the Bucks (9-4, 6-7) present a much bigger challenge. Milwaukee has won its last eight visits to Brooklyn and opened as a 2.5-point road favorite for Monday’s marquee clash.

Milwaukee Bucks vs Brooklyn Nets
  • Date/Time: January 18, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Arena: Barclays Center
  • TV Coverage: TNT
  • Opening Odds: Bucks -2 | O/U 240 (Line History)
  • Bucks vs Nets Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

If this total doesn’t drop, it would mark the fourth game this season that has featured an OVER/UNDER of 240 or more – all of them involving the Nets, who are 2-1 to the OVER in the previous three contests. Milwaukee hasn’t played in a game with a total north of 240 since last February.

Milwaukee News & Notes

After dropping three of their first five games this season, the Bucks seem to have found their groove. Milwaukee has won eight of its nine contests since the calendar flipped to 2021, including Friday’s 112-109 win over the Mavericks when the Bucks rallied from a late deficit.

Milwaukee wouldn’t have needed to sweat that game out as much if the Bucks hadn’t been so bad from the free-throw line. Milwaukee missed 13 of its 25 attempts from the charity stripe, including a horrific 1-for-10 showing from Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Greek Freak clanked all seven of his free throws in the fourth quarter and is now shooting just 57.5 percent from the line this season, so don’t be surprised if we see him get the Hack-a-Shaq treatment from Brooklyn tonight.

Although the Bucks offense currently ranks second in the NBA in points per game and three-point percentage, it’s the defense that has led to Milwaukee’s recent surge. The Bucks have allowed an average of 99.8 points in their last four games, going 4-0 to the UNDER during that span.

Brooklyn News & Notes

It remains to be seen how the Nets will find a way to get James Harden enough touches alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but the early returns looked pretty promising. Harden exploded for 32 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds to help Brooklyn beat the Magic 122-115 on Saturday, becoming the first player in NBA history to record a 30-point triple-double in his first game with a new team.

Meanwhile, Durant enjoyed his highest-scoring outing as a Net, tallying 42 points on a season-high 26 shot attempts. The only negative might have been the 15 turnovers that Harden and Durant combined to commit, although both players suggested those miscues will go down as the two continue to play together. Harden had not had a chance to practice with the Nets before Saturday’s contest.

Brooklyn also hasn’t been able to work Irving into the mix as the guard missed his sixth straight game Saturday due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. We could, however, see him join Durant and Harden on the court in this one. Head coach Steve Nash told reporters after Saturday’s game that Irving had been working out on his own during his quarantine and was possibly going to be able to practice with teammates on Sunday.

Betting Pick: Bucks -2.5

Expect the Bucks to bring their A game here and remind everyone that they’re still the team to beat in the East.

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Shark Bites
  • Milwaukee is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games.
  • The OVER has hit in Brooklyn’s last 6 home games.
  • Milwaukee is 8-0 SU in its last 8 road games vs Brooklyn.