The Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks will face off in a long-awaited matchup on Saturday to begin the second round of NBA Playoff action. Both teams faced minimal challenges in their first-round matchups. The Bucks swept the Miami Heat, and the Nets handled the Boston Celtics in five games. There will be plenty of firepower in this matchup with three former MVPs in James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Kevin Durant, so look forward to seeing an offensive showcase. Hopefully, Nets vs Bucks will live up to expectations by providing viewers with a conference finals-level series in the second round.
Nets vs Bucks: Can The Bucks Contain Brooklyn’s Big 3?
There is no stopping the Big 3. The Bucks can only hope to contain Brooklyn’s superstars. Against the Celtics, the Nets’ Big 3 showed the world how lethal they can be. Forget all of the chemistry and health speculations. The Big 3 showed no signs of any hiccups in the first round. Kevin Durant averaged 32.6 points per game. Kyrie Irving put up 24.8 points per night. Boston was no challenge for James Harden who averaged 27.8 points and 10.6 assists. Night after night, one of the three, or all three, put on an absolute show.
Milwaukee held Miami’s Jimmy Butler to 58 total points in their series, but it will be hard to imagine the Bucks holding any of the members of the Big 3 to those types of numbers. Expect the Bucks to have some defensive game plan to try and contain them. With the loss of starting guard Donte DiVincenzo, Milwaukee will have one less defender to throw at Brooklyn’s offensive juggernaut.
Defense Could Be a Problem for Brooklyn
Although the Nets have shown plenty of promise on offense, defense has been a different story. The Nets ranked 22nd in defensive efficiency during the season. In fact, they gave up around 111 points per game against the Celtics in the first round. Brooklyn can likely outscore any team they are matched up with, but this series may be a challenge for them defensively. If the Nets continue to have defensive struggles, trouble could arise against Giannis and Milwaukee.
The Bucks are Legit
Milwaukee is proving to be a different team in this year’s playoffs. This is not the same team that lost to Miami in five games in last season’s conference semifinals, literally and figuratively. The Bucks’ additions of defensive stoppers Jrue Holiday and PJ Tucker, sixth man Bobby Portis, and sharpshooter Bryn Forbes have proven to be the main difference-makers in the playoffs so far. Coach Mike Budenholzer knew he needed to make adjustments in order to take the next step, so he experienced with multiple lineups and game plans in the regular season to better prepare the team for the postseason. Milwaukee’s two stars, Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, performed very well in the first round. Giannis averaged 23.5 points, 15 rebounds, and 7.8 assists. Middleton had his share of the spotlight in Game 1 and added 21.5 points per game along with 6.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists throughout the series.
The Bucks have the defensive potential capable of slowing down the Nets, and they also have their own version of offensive firepower. Milwaukee is one of the NBA’s most balanced offensive and defensive teams. Giannis and company will be ready. Brooklyn may run into something they weren’t expecting, just like the Heat did.
Key Matchups to Watch
It will be interesting to see if the Nets will have an answer for the Bucks in the paint. Brooklyn has no real rim protector since DeAndre Jordan has seemingly fallen out of the rotation. They rely heavily on Blake Griffin and Nicolas Claxton to be interior defenders. The Nets also use Jeff Green occasionally when they go small, but he possibly could be sidelined for a portion of the series due to a foot injury. If the Nets can’t find an answer down low, the Bucks will have a field day on the inside. Giannis, Brook Lopez, and Portis could all potentially feast if the opportunity presents itself.
Holiday will likely primarily defend Harden or Irving. Someone else on the Bucks’ roster will have to step up to try and contain whoever Holiday doesn’t guard. If the Bucks don’t figure out their defensive matchups early, the Brooklyn backcourt will put up ridiculous stats again. Milwaukee can’t afford to let Brooklyn get into a rhythm.
Both teams are great offensively, but defense will be the key to winning the Nets vs Bucks series.
Nets vs Bucks Prediction: Nets in Six Games
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