¡¡¡¡Both the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks dominated in their first-round playoff series, setting up what is arguably the most enticing semifinal matchup in the NBA playoffs. The Bucks bring a hard-nosed defense, chemistry and the two-way ability of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. Meanwhile, the Nets have the most star power of any team remaining in the playoffs and a high-octane offense. This series could go the distance, and it could be a chess match from night-to-night as each team tries to gain some sort of advantage over the other.
¡¡¡¡Ahead of Game 1, here’s everything you need to know:
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¡¡¡¡Date:?Saturday, June 5 |?Time:?7:30 p.m. ETLocation:?Barclays Center — Brooklyn, New YorkTV:?TNT |?Live stream:?TNTOdds:?MIL +165; BKN -185?|?O/U:?239 (via William Hill Sportsbook)
¡¡¡¡Nets:?Brooklyn has the best offense of the remaining teams in the playoffs, and it will put that to the test against the best defense in the playoffs. Brooklyn’s defense was pedestrian during the regular season. Against the Celtics, this team got by with simply outscoring a Boston team that was down two of its three star players. But Milwaukee isn’t Boston, and this isn’t the regular season. If the Nets are going to take control of this series and try to win a championship, the biggest key comes on the defensive side of the ball for them. That means slowing down Giannis in transition, not allowing Holiday to get to the rim with ease and containing Middleton’s mid-range game.?
¡¡¡¡Bucks:?Milwaukee is going to have the tougher time on defense given the three-headed monster of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden. That trio averaged 85.2 points a game against Boston in the first round, and if the Bucks want to win this series they’re going to need to limit the production of one, perhaps two of these stars. Stopping Durant will be virtually impossible, even with Antetokounmpo, but containing Irving and Harden is a more doable option for the Bucks. That’s where Holiday comes in. The Bucks wanted a defensive-minded point guard who can also generate offense, and Holiday is perhaps the best defensive guard in the league. He’ll be put to the test switching between Harden and Irving throughout the series, hoping to slow down the Nets’ offensive show.
¡¡¡¡Game 1 is where both teams are going to feel each other out, and I think because Brooklyn has the offensive advantage that will carry them to a win in Game 1. Milwaukee is going to see what Brooklyn brings to the table and adjust from there, but I don’t see the Bucks slowing down this offense right out of the gate.?Pick: Nets -4