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Bucks vs. Nets Predictions, Picks, Schedule & More to Know for the 2021 NBA Playoff Series

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Bucks vs. Nets Predictions, Picks, Schedule & More to Know for the 2021 NBA Playoff Series

What to know about Bucks vs. Nets

Milwaukee and Brooklyn met three times during the 2020-21 regular season, but what did those contests really tell us? The Nets never had their full “Big Three” available against the Bucks (Kyrie Irving missed the first game and James Harden missed the other two), so it would be unwise to analyze the results too deeply.

But now these Eastern Conference powerhouses head into the second round with the full set of stars ready to go.

The Bucks were the first team to enter the conference semifinals after easily knocking out the heat. Six different Milwaukee players averaged at least 10 points per game in that first-round sweep, including current MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who posted 23.5 points, 15.0 rebounds and 7.8 assists against Miami.

Meanwhile, the Nets eliminated a battered Celtics squad in five games, only losing Game 3 in Boston. Kevin Durant, Harden and Irving shone on the series and showed exactly why many fans and analysts consider Brooklyn the favorite to win the NBA championship.

So what will happen when these contenders meet in the center of the court? Let’s dive in …

The key showdown

Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Kevin Durant

No one can stop Durant. He is one of the best scorers in the history of the game and receives baskets at all levels, whether it is near the basket, in the middle or beyond the goal.

That said, Antetokounmpo is built to at least make it difficult for him. How many defenders can block a Durant jump shot?

Antetokounmpo showed he was willing to take on the toughest defensive task when he defended Heat star Jimmy Butler in the first round. Butler averaged just 14.5 points per game while shooting less than 30 percent from the field. He was 3 of 12 with Antetokounmpo as his main defender. via NBA.com game data.

“Giannis has a unique defensive talent, and Butler is a great talent, scorer and passer.” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “It takes a lot of discipline to mark a guy like Jimmy Butler. That Giannis has that discipline with competitiveness makes him special.”

Durant is a completely different challenge, of course. He burned the Celtics with incredible efficiency, including a 42-point effort in which he made 14 of his 20 field goal attempts.

The big question is whether Budenholzer will employ the same strategy he used in the first round telling Antetokounmpo to focus on Durant, or whether he’s more concerned with Harden’s playing than Durant’s scoring brilliance. That’s the brutal part of facing the nets: plugging a hole in the boat and suddenly another appears.

The X factor

Will one of the snipers get hot?

Milwaukee knows better than any team how much a shooter can change a series. During the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals, Raptors guard Fred VanVleet had the longest three-game shooting streak in playoff history against the Bucks, hitting 14 of his 17 3-pointers in Games 4-6. Toronto won all three games and advanced to the NBA Finals.

Both teams have guys capable of catching fire from the outside. Nets guard Joe Harris led the league in 3-point percentage this season (47.5 percent), and it wasn’t just because he picked his spots, as he took 6.4 attempts from deep per game.

Bucks guard Bryn Forbes did not lag behind Harris during the regular season, shooting 45.2 percent on 4.9 3-point attempts per game. He drilled 16 of his 33 3s against the heat.

Harris and Forbes are far from the biggest names in this series, but they could easily switch a game or two.

The great number

64.9

Heading into Game 5 on Tuesday, Brooklyn had the lowest defensive rebounding percentage of any playoff team in 64.9 percent, via NBA.com stats. Why is it a remarkable number?

Well, as of Tuesday, Milwaukee was second among all playoff teams in offensive rebounding percentage (33.6) behind only, yes, Boston (35.1). The bucks too 1st in second chance points per game (18.8), a notable increase regular season (13.2).

If the Nets can’t keep Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez, PJ Tucker and others off the boards, that could be a big deal.

Bucks vs. Nets schedule

The series schedule will be posted here when the NBA announces the dates and times for each game.

Bucks vs Nets prediction

Dollars in seven

This series should be fascinating and competitive from the start. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Brooklyn build on the momentum from the first round and advance through the East, but that feels too dismissive of Milwaukee’s talent and chemistry.

The Bucks get a very a slight advantage here because they can attack in various ways offensively and have shown that they can be an elite team on defense.

“You have to find ways to keep winning”, Antetokounmpo said. “I think this team is so versatile. You know, we can win a game with the defense, scoring 80 points to win the game. One game we can score 130 points. One game we can score 80 points in the paint. One game we can score 25. triples, so that’s what makes us a unique team. ”

A prediction that feels safe: This should be a lot of fun.

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