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Bucks @ Nets Game 2 Prediction: Back Milwaukee in Harden absence

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By Zachary Rainey

Nobody likes Mondays, right? Usually, I’m the same way.

However, my Saturday was pretty boring with just the one NBA Playoff game. I had gotten used to two or three per night.

I was happy that Sunday brought two playoff games on its slate, including a crucial Game 7 with the Los Angeles Clippers edging the Dallas Mavericks and apparently possibly running Kristaps Porzingis out of town.

But I like my playoff games in the evening to wind down with, watch when I don’t have other things to do during the day. I think the main reason was ESPN had both games Sunday and wanted to get them both in and finished before their Sunday Night Baseball broadcast between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees for the first time this year.

We have two games on for tonight, so let’s get right into the first game on the slate; the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets for Game 2 after Brooklyn took a 1-0 lead in a convincing win. Brooklyn opened as a 2.5-point favorite, but the line has since shifted to Milwaukee -1 after it was announced James Harden would miss Game 2.

We certainly didn’t see Milwaukee’s best performance. They shot just 2.3 percent worse than Brooklyn, but that included a 20 percent clip from 3-point land. They were also able to get to the line more than twice as much as Brooklyn, but seemingly apologized for doing so by going 11-for-19.

Middleton shot 0-for-5 from deep in this game, and I can’t see him shooting 6-for-23, or anywhere in that neighborhood, again. The part I like about Middleton that I think goes underappreciated is his effort to impact the game even when he’s not making shots. He came away with 13 rebounds, including three on the offensive glass.

Other members of Brooklyn’s starting five stepped up in big ways, which is what made them seem so dominant. Harris was 7-for-11 and 5-for-9 from deep. Blake Griffin also shot over 50 percent for 18 points, 14 rebounds and two steals.

I don’t believe Milwaukee can have a worse night shooting from downtown so I’m going to back the Bucks in this one. Everything I said about the Bucks in series preview piece I still believe to be true. Ask any guy who’s been out there; it’s a lot easier to play defense when you’re seeing the ball go through the hoop on the other end. I think that now, having time to figure out how to guard those other members of the starting five in bigger roles, there won’t be any surprises for Milwaukee’s defense now.

For our prop of the night, I’m going to take Irving’s over 6.5 assists. After Harden got hurt, Irving did a pretty good job at facilitating the offense. He finished with eight assists and I think he gets close to that number again.

The number is different depending on the book, but BetMGM has over 6.5 at -135, -155 at 888Sport, BetRivers and Unibet. At Pointsbet, it’s 7.5 at +115 odds.

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