After the Milwaukee Bucks have advanced past the Miami Heat in swift fashion, they’ve waited a week for their series with the Brooklyn Nets to commence. Finally, it’s here, and much of the NBA Twitterati has weighed in on the matchup to this point. If we’re lucky, it’ll be one of the most compelling series of the Playoffs. If we’re even luckier, it will be a snoozefest. I’m betting on the former, let’s dive in.
Where We’re At
By this point, there’s nary a Bucks fan alive who doesn’t know how they made mincemeat of Miami. Exorcising any demons left within the franchise, their 4-0 sweep proceeded in quick succession after emerging with a Game One victory on a Khris Middleton final buzzer bucket. From there, it was a defensive tour de force. Brook Lopez batted the Heat around when they tried to get low, Giannis Antetokounmpo locked up Jimmy Butler and they forced Miami into a historically poor offensive performance for the modern era. Combining their switching scheme well-tested during the regular season with Budenholzer’s tried and true zone drop created a wall the Heat couldn’t scale. On the other end, Bryn Forbes was consistently hitting his just above his average amount of threes (48% vs. 45% in the regular season) and put forth a defensive effort I thought was well above his weight class. The Bucks lost Donte DiVincenzo for the remainder of the Playoffs, and will be playing a man down against the Nets offensive superstars.
Brooklyn toyed around with Boston for a bit, ultimately winning in five games. The one victory for the Celtics came behind a historic night for Jayson Tatum. Now they’re facing an upper echelon team, nearly whole and fresh off destroying a competent Eastern Conference foe. The Bucks never got a chance to face Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden together during the regular season, but practically nobody in the NBA did either. The Bucks took two of three against the Nets, and the name of the game defensively will be damage control. Of course Brooklyn will be able to get theirs, but stanching the scoring sprees is key. I heard Marques Johnson say it best on The Athletic podcast when he said on a night Kevin Durant might normally go for 45, the Bucks defenders need to hold him to around 33. That’s the specialty and task of PJ Tucker, Giannis Antetokounmpo and this entire Bucks team, trying their best to keep those three under wraps while pouring it in on the other end.
We’ve written ad nauseam about this series already, so feel free to peruse my piece about Giannis needing a historic offensive series, the series by the numbers, how Milwaukee will address the shorter backcourt rotation and our roundtable with predictions.
On the injury front, Milwaukee is without Donte while Brooklyn is without Jeff Green.
Player to Watch
I want to see how Bryn Forbes holds up in his first game against the Nets. We all saw how well he did defensively against Miami, but will Brooklyn be able to target him in pick-and-rolls and isolation? On the flipside, can he hit enough threes to make it worth it? The gambit paid off and then some against the Heat, but I want to see what he can pull out of his hat against the Nets.
Game One: Against Brooklyn, the Bucks will...
This poll is closed
Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)