The first of the two TNT NBA games tonight also happens to be the best game of the night. The Brooklyn Nets are hosting the Milwaukee Bucks in the Barclays Center, tonight, March 31st at 7:30PM ET.
Now that the Nets are fully healthy (or whatever you want to call the Kyrie Irving situation), they are back to being one of the scariest teams in the East, if not the scariest. They are still the betting favorite to come out of the East according to Caesars Sportsbook.
That is why, despite the 40-36 record overall, they are favored tonight against the Bucks, who sit at 47-28 and the 2nd seed in the East. The Nets are currently 1.5 point favorites, with the over/under at the very high total of 240.
The Nets actually being 4 games over .500 is kind of impressive when you look at how weird their season has been. Durant has only played in 49 of 76 games due to injury, Kyrie Irving only played in 23 games due to, well, you know, and how could we forget the 44 games where James Harden was on this team!
Of course, when you isolate to the games where Durant and Irving share the floor together, this team is elite. When you look at all possible 2 player lineups across every team in the NBA, Durant and Kyrie have the best plus/minus of any two player combination in the entire NBA.
They have played 11 games together and average 28.5 minutes per game, and in that span they, on average, outscore their opponents by over 8 points. That is tops in the NBA, and by a wide margin too.
So, yea, despite the chaotic season the Nets have had, it really is as simple as having Durant and Irving on the floor and they immediately become elite. They come into this game winners of 7 of their last 10 games too.
The Bucks, of course, coming off the title are having another ho-hum top 4 record in the NBA type of season. They are now fully healthy, too, with Brook Lopez recently coming back from an extended absence with a back injury.
With Brook out for so many games their defense has taken a step back overall, down all the way to 13th in the NBA according to defensive net rating. But, that is not a huge concern.
The Bucks had the best defense in the NBA for two straight seasons, in 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. Last year, the coaching staff experimented a little bit during the regular season with some different defensive tactics, and they took a step back to 9th in defense. But, with that said, when the playoffs started their defense went up a notch and they rode that stellar defense to a championship.
So, that’s all to say that the Bucks defense is not a concern at this time. They also still have Giannis, to my knowledge. That Giannis fellow is pretty good, too. He is coming off a 40 point masterpiece against the Sixers, and has scored 30+ points in 7 of his last 8 games.
This is an important game for both teams too. The Nets are only a half game up on the Hornets for the 8 seed, while the Bucks are one game back from the top seed in the East. I expect to get both teams playing with max effort in tonights game.
I went back and forth trying to decide who I thought would win here, and I ended up backing the Bucks. There is a little bit of value on the Bucks moneyline at +105 on Caesars Sportsbook, whereas the OddsJam Perfect Line prices them at +102.
Regarding player props – I just like backing Giannis to go over his point total of 31.5. As mentioned earlier, he is coming off a 40 point performance against the 76ers, and is trending over this number in his last 10 games. Sometimes the bet that seems the easiest is the best one to take!