Isn’t there just something ominous about this game and spread? The betting public has suddenly turned on a once-loved Nets team so aggressively that oddsmakers have made them installed as the biggest home underdogs they have been all season long.
Let’s take a look at this Game 5 matchup between Milwaukee and Brooklyn with a deep dive into our best Bucks vs. Nets player prop pick.
The odds are particularly noteworthy given they covered all three of their home games as underdogs of four or more points, winning two of those contests outright. Something feels amiss.
Yes, James Harden and Kyrie Irving are both expected to miss this game, leaving Durant as the sole true star to grace the court for Brooklyn tonight, but this same team hung with the Bucks on the road throughout Game 4 without either players’ services. That happened without any sort of game-planning for their absences. Milwaukee had all the advantages and still took the entire game to put the Nets away for good.
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Quite simply, Bucks haven’t been very good at any point in this series, except perhaps the first quarter of Game 3. They have shot just 36-for-135 from deep through four games, a 26.7 shooting percentage from long range that is nearly seven percentage points worse than the NBA’s worst 3-point shooting team on the season (Cleveland, 33.6%). Yet, they continue to fire it up there, averaging nearly 34 3-point attempts per game in the series, more than 12 teams averaged per game this season.
The Nets have already won the first half outright in their two games at home in this series. Game 3 saw the Bucks jump out to a 30-11 lead after the first quarter and still won the first half by just three points, one point off what we need here. Game 4 found the Nets ahead after one, but then Irving’s injury in the middle of the second quarter led to a five-point Bucks’ halftime lead.
Neither of those Milwaukee leads were convincing and both came at home. Despite their health advantage, it’s hard to imagine them coming out hot enough to open this game up by halftime.
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In terms of Durant’s assists in this equation, there’s an isolated star who knows the Milwaukee defense will attempt to make other Nets win their matchups. Durant is a heady player who knows how to put his teammates in positions to be successful.
With Durant at home in a must-win spot, Durant will do everything needed to bear down, including taking what Milwaukee’s defense gives.
Durant already averages 5.6 assists per game on the season, a number which spikes to 6.1 in home games and has increased to 5.9 since the All-Star Break. He also tallies 6.1 assists per game in wins and just 4.5 per game in losses, so the recipe seems pretty simple here, no?
Since Harden and Irving joined the lineup for the[Postseason, Durant’s assists have shrunken a bit, but look back to the regular season when Brooklyn played just seven games with the trio on the court. There’s a much different story.
Durant ended the regular season with five straight games of six or more assists, including 13 in the regular season finale. He had seven games with eight or more assists, despite starting just 32 of the team’s 72 regular season games.
Reaching this prop total in 21.9% of his starts is pretty respectable, given the increased minutes we know he is likely to see tonight in a highly-contested game that could go down to the wire.
In the three closer games of this series, Durant has logged 40, 42, and 43 minutes of court time and even reached 39 or more minutes in three games in the Celtics series, one that afforded him far more opportunities for rest.
By contrast, Durant only played more than 40 minutes three times during the regular season. There is every chance that even those nine regular season games where he had six or seven assists would have turned into an 8+ assist outing had he played an increased workload.
By this thought process, we would be looking at 16 of 32 regular season starts with eight or more assists. With an opportunity to cash a prop at nearly 2.5 times the investment, there’s value in play.
The Nets are, after all, the league’s best field goal percentage and second best 3-point field goal percentage team, so if they can hit open looks at all tonight, the Durant portion of this prop should prove to be a formality.
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