Milwaukee Bucks vs Brooklyn Nets 1/7/22: Starting Lineups, Matchup Preview, Betting Odds, Live Stream
Milwaukee Bucks vs Brooklyn Nets Matchup Preview (1/7/22)
On Friday night, the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks (25-15) will travel to face the Brooklyn Nets (24-12). The Bucks have followed up their impressive finals performance with a good start to the season. They sit at 3rd in the East, but are only one game behind the Nets for 2nd. Whether it be voter fatigue or the small market curse, Giannis has had an underrated season and is not talked about much in the MVP race this year. He is producing 27.9 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.48 BPG, 1.1 SPG and playing excellent defense. To put that into context, Shaquille O’Neal in his only MVP season averaged 29.7 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 3.8 APG, 3.0 BPG, 0.5 SPG. Giannis is the best two-way player in the league currently, and the Bucks will always have a chance with him on the court. The Bucks, however, might be without Giannis in this matchup as he is a game time decision with an illness. Grayson Allen, Pat Connaughton, and George Hill (COVID) are expected to be out, although there is a chance of returning. The guard depth will be limited, but the Bucks have the star power to neutralize that deficiency if Giannis plays.
The Nets are 3-3 in their last six games with losses to the 76ers, Clippers, and Grizzlies. They struggled to contain the athletic Ja Morant, who erupted for 36 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists. In the Clippers game, it was Eric Bledsoe and Reggie Jackson who burned the Nets for a combined 46 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists. On the 76ers, Seth Curry and Tyrese Maxey combined for 42 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. The Nets have struggled to defend opposing guards and may see the same result against Bucks guard Jrue Holiday. Irving, Harden, and Mills are average or below average at perimeter defense, although Harden is a good post defender because of his size and deceptive strength. Irving played his first game Wednesday night because the Nets realized the pros of Irving being a part time player outweighed the cons. Irving still cannot play home games because of New York’s vaccination rules, so he will be out for this home game against the Bucks. Veteran sharpshooter Joe Harris (ankle) is still out for the Nets and not expected to see the court for a few more games at least. The Nets will once again rely on former MVP winners Kevin Durant and James Harden in this important game. It could be the difference at the end of the season in terms of seeding in the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee Bucks vs Brooklyn Nets Betting Odds
The only previous matchup this season was on October 19th, the season opener. The Bucks cruised to a 127-104 victory through the excellence of Giannis and Middleton. Off the bench, Pat Connaughton and Jordan Nwora contributed a combined 35 points and 9 rebounds. In this matchup, the availability of Giannis will be the deciding factor. If he is playing, I am going with the Bucks moneyline in a close, hard-fought game. I would bet up to Bucks -3.5 for the spread. If Giannis does not play, the Nets moneyline is the smart bet. The spread I would bet up to is Nets -5.5 in this scenario. For player props, Kevin Durant going for 30+ points and 10+ rebounds is a decent bet. Durant has been on a scoring tear and consistently gets above 6 rebounds. A 30/10 game for Durant is definitely achievable for him, especially in such an important game.
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Time: 7:30 PM ET
Arena: Barclays Center – Brooklyn, NY
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Milwaukee Bucks Starting Lineup
Milwaukee Bucks Analysis
The Bucks have the advantage of chemistry over the rest of the NBA. When a team wins a championship and returns the same players, there is a certain level of confidence that accompanies that. The Bucks know how to play and handle the pressure of the biggest stage in basketball. In Game 6 of the finals, Giannis scorched the Suns for 50 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 blocks on 16/25 from the field and 17/19 from the free throw line. The Bucks know Giannis will hold up his end of the bargain; it boils down to the role players and Khris Middleton. It is impossible to win alone in the NBA. Jordan needed Pippen, Shaq needed Kobe, and LeBron needed Wade before each all-time great won a championship. Middleton’s performance as the closer has always been the recipe for success, and he proved his capabilities last playoffs. Giannis was able to win when he had Middleton’s help hitting shot after shot in clutch situations.
The main difference between last year’s roster and this year is the loss of PJ Tucker and the gain of Grayson Allen. Tucker is not a great offensive player, but he hits his corner threes. Tucker was a defensive assassin for the Bucks and defended Durant about as well as any player could. Although the Bucks lost him, Allen has given the Bucks 11.9 PPG on 38.9% from three. Donte DiVincenzo, who was injured last playoffs, also adds a playmaking element to the Bucks. Overall, the Bucks have the talent to repeat as champions. Middleton must resume his role as a true championship 2nd option, and the bench must step up again for the Bucks to win.
Brooklyn Nets Starting Lineup
Brooklyn Nets Analysis
The Nets gladly saw the return of guard Kyrie Irving Wednesday night against the Pacers. His 22 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists on 9/17 shooting was encouraging considering he had not played a professional game of basketball in months. Irving elevates the Nets from contenders to the favorites due to his elite isolation scoring, experience, and ball handling. Irving is one of the best ball handlers and finishers at the rim in NBA history for a guard. Teams with an elite guard defender cannot solely stick to Harden since Irving is just as deadly with the basketball. With Irving and Harden, the Nets are ensuring they have elite guard production no matter the opposing defense. Throw Kevin Durant into the mix, and the Nets offense is almost impossible to stop in a seven game series. Compared to last year, the Nets have more depth and center production. Patty Mills gives the Nets a reliable ball handler shooting 42.5% from three on the second unit. The Nets could run a three guard lineup of Irving, Harden, and Mills just as the Thunder did two seasons ago with Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schroder.
The big man rotation has improved tremendously. Nic Claxton has improved his rim protection and interior defense, which is critical for a Nets squad that was lacking this dimension last year. LaMarcus Aldridge is adding 13.7 PPG and 5.8 RPG off the bench. Although he is clearly not the same player he once was, he is a useful veteran that fundamentally knows how to positively impact the game. The Nets as a whole are a more complete and adaptable squad. They have the tools to advance through the suddenly resilient Eastern Conference and win the NBA Finals.
Milwaukee Bucks vs Brooklyn Nets Daily Fantasy Picks
For this matchup, I like Khris Middleton and Patty Mills. Even if Giannis plays, he may not be at 100% health. Therefore, Middleton will lead the Bucks in FGA and points. His shooting has been slightly subpar by his standards this season, but he is a constant threat to score 30 at any given time. The Nets do not have an elite wing defender to slow down Middleton. While Durant has improved his defense in recent years, he is more of a team defender rather than an individual defender. For the Nets, Patty Mills will see an opportunity for production. Irving is out, and James Harden will be hounded by Jrue Holiday’s excellent on-ball defense. The Bucks guard rotation will be thinner than normal, so look for Mills to clear 18 points and 5 assists.