Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:00 PM EST.
NBA Playoffs Game 1
Milwaukee +4 over BROOKLYN
7:35 PM EST, During the Bucks’ First Round sweep of Miami, it was discussed how the Heat beat the percentages against the Bucks’ defense when they’d beaten Milwaukee in five games in last season’s Second Round series, and also took more of the kind of shots that coaches and analysts would prefer to not see (2-pointers outside the paint). The Bucks play the percentages with their steadfast denial of the paint. Percentages are good to play, but they won’t always work out in favor of the expected number. However, second time around in the postseason against Miami, those percentages did work. Although the Bucks used the regular season as a long, drawn-out drill to become a more complex defense with a lot more switching and more possessions using zone – to, in effect, cover more bases, pardon the baseball metaphor for hoops. Truth be told, the Bucks didn’t really do much of either during their sweep of Miami, therefore, they have it in their back pocket, ready to pull it out vs. Brooklyn.
Denial of the paint, if successful enough times, helps to reduce the killer penetration that James Harden and Kyrie Irving normally get, which results in points for them, or assists for them after they dish to a guy left open when the defense collapses on them. Meanwhile, if interior defense is a Nets’ strength, we’ll have to let them prove it, at least in this game, where we have a road underdog that won 63.9% of its games straight-up, led the NBA in points per game (120.1), yet takes two possessions worth of points. According to http://538.com, Milwaukee’s leading scorer, Giannis Antetokounmpo, shot 78.8% within 5 feet of the rim this season. That’s the single-high percentage of any player with 500 or more attempts since the stat started being tracked 25 years ago. For purposes of hypothetical comparison, a three-point shooter would need to shoot 52.5% in as many attempts as Giannis takes in the paint (9.5 per game) to match that production. Over the course of a season, nobody ever has.
It would be very easy to make a case for the Nets here. Ya’ll remember the big three of LeGoat, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, correct? They couldn’t be stopped and that’s the same narrative we’re hearing about Brooklyn’s big three. We all know how much influence the media has on the market (did ya see Stephen A drooling all over the Knicks?). Stephen A also says Brooklyn is going to blow away the Bucks because the Bucks are not built for playoffs and are not a proven playoff team. We’re not buying it. We’re buying that the Bucks have paid their dues with two early exits the past two years prior to their sweep of the Heat. The Nets’ three offensive-minded, shot-hogging superheroes have not proven their playoff worth yet either but nobody is talking about that. Bucks outright is the call and while we’re very tempted to take +155, two possessions also work.
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Milwaukee +4 -106 (Risking 2.12 units - To Win: 2.00)