The Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets will conclude a thrilling second round postseason series in Brooklyn tonight with a winner-take-all Game 7 matchup.
This Game 7 showdown figures to be determined by the performances of its top stars, so let’s dive into our best Bucks vs. Nets player prop pick selection.
Kevin Durant’s legendary Game 5 performance gave the Nets an opportunity to wrap things up in Game 6 on Thursday night, but a resilient Bucks squad battled back to force a deciding Game 7. To this point, home teams have dominated this series, but that trend could be ready to bust tonight.
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Bucks vs. Nets Game 7 Player Prop Pick
Khris Middleton to Score 20+ Points and Milwaukee Bucks Win by 1-10 (+230 Odds)
It’s Game 7 and one would have to expect a close battle tonight. Both teams know a victory means the inside track to an NBA Championship. With that said, the expectation here is that this game goes down to the wire.
Notably, each game in this series has seen the defense take center stage. The final scores in the first six games of this series have stayed dramatically below each team’s season average.
As for Milwaukee being the team to take a potentially close game, we would need them to buck the trend (pun intended) of the home team winning all six games in the series.
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Path to a Tight Bucks’ Win
We think of the Bucks as this dominant, high-scoring team and expect that they typically do not play a ton of close games. However, during the regular season, they saw exactly half of their 72 games decided by 10 points or less. Within that sample space was 22 of their 46 victories by 10 points or less (47.8%), quite a sizable percentage for a team many will associate with dominating wins.
Looking deeper, we find that 10 of their 20 road wins also came by 10 points or less.
When Brooklyn loses, it is very often a close game, as 15 of their 28 losses have come by 10 points or less this season (53.6%), including two of its four postseason defeats. The Nets also have another three losses by exactly 11 points, further proving their propensity to hang in games they lose. They only lost eight games at the Barclays Center this season, but even three of those came by 10 points or less (37.5%).
With regards to Milwaukee winning the game, those who believe they can tonight will surely point to the one-dimensionality of Brooklyn since Kyrie Irving went down with his ankle injury. James Harden has returned, but he has been a shell of his true self. Therefore, the burden likely falls squarely on Durant to be Superman every moment of every game in order for the Nets to win.
While he has proven quite capable of this for long stretches, the probability says he cannot win this game alone, giving Milwaukee the edge in terms of depth and scoring options, especially for a third such shorthanded game in just five days time.
Expect a Clutch Night From Middleton
If Milwaukee is to win, it should be apparent that Khris Middleton will contribute in a major way. Middleton seems to be the main, and sometimes only, Bucks player with a clutch gene in his body, willingly taking, and often making, the big shots.
We certainly do not require the Herculean 11-for-16 shooting, 38-point effort Middleton offered up in Game 6 to cash this prop. A simple 20-point evening will get it done. That’s more than doable given he averaged 20.4 points per game in the regular season and has bumped that up to 23.3 points per game in the postseason.
He has scored 25+ points in three of the last four games, dropping 19 in the other outing. He also managed 20 points or more in three of the four games in the Bucks’ first round series against the Heat.
Middleton scored 20 points or more in eight of his final nine regular season games, hitting that number in 39 of his 68 games before the playoffs began (57.4%). Knowing that he is logging 3.5 more minutes per game in the postseason than he did in the regular season, we can expect Middleton to be on the court almost as much as Durant, increasing his scoring chances significantly.
Lastly, Middleton is a lights-out foul shooter, hitting right near 90% in the regular season and shooting it at 96.4% in his last 10 games.
If things are close late, as this prop requires, and Brooklyn needs to foul to extend the game, this is the guy who will have the ball in his hands, meaning we could get some cheap late points to push us over if things get dicey.
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