The Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets will meet at the Barclays Center for what appears on paper to be the best matchup of the evening. The Bucks know that they have a different looking Nets team on the docket tonight. This could ultimately be a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bucks believe they have the talent to beat anybody in the Eastern Conference and get to the NBA Finals, but it’s likely going to be a little more difficult than it was a week ago.
James Harden is officially a Net after his request for a trade was finally granted. In what is essentially a perfect scenario for Harden, he goes to an already talented team that has Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. It’s not a sure fire ticket to the NBA Finals for the Nets, though.
The Nets still have questions to answer. The biggest and most glaring is whether a locker room that includes Harden and Irving is going to work. Both players are ultra talented, but if there isn’t any chemistry, then it’s not going to work. I will say that Harden appears before thankful to be in Brooklyn. It would be more of an Irving problem than Harden, I imagine.
Having said that, I suspect everything will work out just fine for the Nets. The potential locker room issues might be a tad overblown. With Harden out of Houston, I’m sure he will revert back to being a hungry and motivated player. Whether Irving is motivated is another question, though. Note that Irving is listed as questionable to play tonight after being mandated by the NBA to quarantine. He completed his quarantine, but is not guaranteed to play against the Bucks.
The Nets defeated the Orlando Magic, 112-115, in their first game with Harden in the lineup. Credit to the Magic who were competing hard in that game against a superior opponent. They were in that game up until the final minutes where the Nets pulled away for the seven-point win. The Nets enter Monday with a record of 8-6.
Conversely, the Bucks are coming off a 112-109 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday. The Bucks head into Monday night with a record of 9-4 to lead the Eastern Conference. They might lead the Eastern Conference, but they have looked beatable thus far. That said, the Bucks still have some heating up to do. Head below for our free Bucks vs. Nets pick on January 18, 2021.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Brooklyn Nets NBA Betting Odds:
Bucks vs. Nets Prediction:
The Nets are the hot name in the Eastern Conference now, but they’re going to have to beat the current king of the conference to prove that they’re worthy of being favorites. The Bucks are small road favorites in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center. The public will likely bet this game 50-50. I can make a strong argument for both sides in this game. If we knew that Irving was playing on Monday, then I’d be able to make more of a convincing argument for the Nets.
What I will say about the Bucks is that their defense has to carry them this season. With a healthy Nets squad, with an Irving that is motivated, the edge goes to the Nets on offense. However, the Bucks could skew this season in their favor with their defense. Milwaukee has been a tough defense to crack recently following a slow start.
They’ve tightened the screws up and adjusted defensively. The Bucks have conceded 99.75 points per game through their last four games. This was after they were hammered for 131 points against the Jazz, so that might have been their wake up call to make some adjustments. Prior to that game, the Bucks gave up 115 points in back-to-back outings against the Pistons. In other words, the defense was really struggling to stop anything defensively.
The total in this game looks awfully inflated. Given the Nets’ offense with Harden and Durant, it’s understandable. However, it might take them a minute to generate chemistry and play together. Against a defense like the Magic, sure, but the Bucks are playing a lot better defensively recently and should be able to disrupt them enough to prevent the Nets from going off. The total here is just jacked up too high for my liking.