Brooklyn (3-2) at Milwaukee (2-3)
When: Thursday, June 17th, 2021
Where: Fiserv Forum,
Time: 8:35 ET | TV: TNT
Opening Odds: Milwaukee -3.5/220.5
The Milwaukee Bucks blew a golden opportunity on Tuesday to steal a road win in Brooklyn and give themselves a chance to close out the Eastern Conference Semifinal series at home on Thursday. Instead, its the Nets who can eliminate the Bucks in Game 6 from Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Bucks had a 16-point halftime lead in Game 5, but the Nets chipped away thanks to an all-world performance by Kevin Durant. The big man played every single minute and recorded a triple-double of 49 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists. Brooklyn was once again without guard Kyrie Irving, who sprained his right ankle in Game 4. It appears that Irving could miss the rest of the postseason and won’t even travel to Milwaukee. James Harden went from being listed as OUT Tuesday morning to logging 45 minutes. Those minutes didn’t produce much and he was probably out there mostly as a decoy. He will again be available Thursday after he was held out for almost all of the first four games of the series with a hamstring injury. The home team has won every game in this series and Brooklyn didn’t have Harden for either of the two road games – both losses. Game 7, if necessary, will be back in Brooklyn on Saturday. Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo fumbled away an opportunity to tie the game before Durant made two clinching free throws with 15.0 seconds left. Brooklyn shot 49.4 percent against one of the NBA’s best defenses in Game 5.
Milwaukee is a 5.5-point favorite in Game 6 with a total set at 220. The Nets are 13-2 against the spread in their last 15 games overall and 12-3 straight up. The Bucks have won 12 in a row at home but are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven at Fiserv Forum.
Durant ended up making 16-of-23 from the floor, 4-of-9 from 3-point range, and sank 13 of his 16 free throws. The former league MVP is the first player in NBA playoff history to put up a 45/15/10 stat line. As I stated above, Harden was a non-factor offensively, making just 1-of-10 from the field including 0-for-8 on 3-pointers, finishing with five points. With Harden off his game and Irving not in the lineup, Jeff Green also stepped up with a playoff career-high 27 points, including a playoff career-high seven 3-pointers. Blake Griffin was the only other double-digit scorer with 17 points in 29 minutes.
The Bucks really fell apart in the second half of Game 5, getting outscored 71-51. Milwaukee did manage to get five players in double-figures, but it still wasn’t enough. Antetokounmpo finished with 34 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two blocks for his seventh straight double-double. Khris Middleton finished with 25 points, four rebounds and five assists, while Jrue Holiday chipped in with 19 points, three rebounds and eight assists.
The Nets won Tuesday’s game despite zero contribution from James Harden. Now that he got a warm-up game under his belt, I fully expect him to be better in Game 6. The Bucks have no answer for Durant right now and even though they’re at home, Milwaukee’s poor shooting will keep this close.
Check out who Bobby Babowski has on his Free NBA Picks page for today.
Pick: Nets +5.5