When the Brooklyn Nets took the first two games of their Eastern Conference playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks, there was talk of the "same old, same old" failure on the part of a Milwaukee team that has fallen on its face the last two seasons.
But suddenly, there was drama. Already missing James Harden with a hamstring injury, the Nets lost Kyrie Irving to a bad ankle as well. And the Bucks got back into the series.
But the Nets got a surprising comeback out of Harden, in addition to some superhuman effort out of Kevin Durant, in Game 5, and now that the Bucks came back and took control on Game 6, we have a seventh and deciding game set for Saturday night at 8:05 PM ET at the Barclays Center.
In the NBA playoff betting lines posted on this game by the folks at BetOnline, the Nets are the very slight favorites:
Brooklyn Nets -2 (-107)
Milwaukee Bucks +2 (-113)
Over 216 points -115
Under 216 points -105
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You simply can't say enough about the performance of Durant in Game 5, when he scored 49 points with 17 rebounds and ten assists. And he did indeed get help from Harden, who played 46 minutes only hours after having been considered to be "out."
It was kind of storybook in nature; Harden, as said, was "out," and then was reclassified as doubtful after a workout, then questionable, then probable. His presence was an inspiration, and he served a complementary function alongside Durant. He can function in that role, because he is quite at ease with being the playmaker.
No one really expects him to be 100%, but he's going to be out there. And he'll play well, for someone who is essentially on one good leg. Whether he'll gather numbers is another thing entirely.
And that would be an important consideration for BetOnline customers because there is a prop that covers his stats. As for the sum of Harden's points, rebounds and assists, the over-under is:
Over 33.5 P+R+A (-120)
Under 33.5 P+R+A (-108)
This is a high standard to reach for a guy whose shooting is affected, and who has made it to the free throw line just eight times in the last two games (something he can usually count on). Certainly he figures to play a lot of minutes,but even with a pretty decent showing of 16 points, seven assists and five rebounds, he'll fell well short of the mark.
So we'd go "UNDER."
When it comes to Durant, we'd rather focus on his points than his P+R+A combination. Look, this guy sensed that his team's backs were to the wall in Game 5, and he literally took matters into his own hands, any way he needed to.
Irving, who could pop for 40 on any given day, is not available. Harden, as we mentioned, may not be the kind of scorer he's used to being. And Joe Harris, who led the NBA in three-point shooting (47.5%) this season, has been a major disappointment, making just 32.5%.
So Durant, with a 36.1% Usage rate over the course of this series, isn't about to leave this in somebody else's hands. His over-under on points scored is 35.5 (Over -130, Under +100), and we'd go the OVER route here.
And as usual with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, we're going UNDER with his P+R+A total of 52.5, which is priced at -130 right now. He's gone under in every game of this series thus far. He's leaving a lot of points at the free throw line (hitting 45.7%).
Also, in this all-or-nothing game, we'd side with the Nets at -2.
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