The two favorites to win the Eastern Conference according to NBA expert picks will meet in the Big Apple on Thursday night. The Brooklyn Nets may be just three games over .500, but they are currently the favorite to win the Eastern Conference at SugarHouse Sportsbook. They will likely have to qualify through the play-in tournament, yet the Nets have a scary collection of talent that will lead to more observers including them in their NBA Finals picks then current top teams Boston and Miami. Their eventual opponent in the Eastern Conference Finals could be the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee is the defending champion, and the Bucks finally have their full collection of talent available after Brook Lopez was injured for nearly the full season.
The Brooklyn Nets will host the Milwaukee Bucks at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Thursday, March 31, 2022. This game is scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
Milwaukee Bucks at Brooklyn Nets Preview
We saw Milwaukee and Brooklyn meet in the Eastern Conference semifinals last year. The Nets took the first two games as Kevin Durant went off, but Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks back. The home team won the first six games in this series before the Bucks bested the Nets in Brooklyn in Game 7, and that loss still stings for this team.
Brooklyn will take on Detroit on Tuesday night prior to this game. The Nets will be favored by the NBA betting odds in each of their last seven games to close out the regular season, as the Bucks are the only team that is in the top six of the Eastern Conference that they will face over the last two weeks.
Durant has been exceptional throughout the year. He is averaging 29.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 6.1 APG, earning him MVP consideration although the Nets haven’t won 40 games yet this season. The future first ballot Hall of Famer is making 51.9% of his field goals and 90.5% of his free throws, making him one of the most efficient scorers in the league.
The return of Kyrie Irving has made the Nets much better. Irving has been unable to play in Brooklyn’s home games until recently because of New York’s COVID mandate, but that mandate was amended last week to allow the Nets’ star guard to take the court in the Barclays Center. He is hitting 48% of his field goals, 41.3% of his threes, and 90.4% of his free throws while averaging 27.1 PPG for Brooklyn. That has also made this offense extremely efficient.
Ben Simmons has yet to take the court after being the big name that Brooklyn was receiving in the James Harden trade, but two of the other players the Nets received from Philadelphia have been excellent. Seth Curry has been able to help Brooklyn stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting, and Andre Drummond has looked inspired since joining his new team.
Antetokounmpo could win another MVP award at the end of this season. He is second in the NBA in PER (32.31), third in the league in points (29.7 PPG), and sixth in rebounds (11.6 RPG). The reigning NBA Finals MVP continues to change the game with his play, and his only weakness is his perimeter shooting.
Milwaukee is finally getting great play out of Jrue Holiday too. Holiday struggled with the Bucks last season, but he has been much better this year. He is knocking down 50.6% of his field goals and 41.5% of his threes, and he is averaging 18.6 PPG and 6.7 APG.
A healthy Brook Lopez has been enormous for the Bucks too. Lopez allows Antetokounmpo to play away from the basket more, and he is finally back on the court after missing nearly the entire season due to injury. Milwaukee is limiting his minutes with an eye towards the postseason, but we might see more of him on Thursday night considering the competition.
These are the two most talented teams in the East. Brooklyn has a higher ceiling, while Milwaukee has been more consistent. That consistency is why you should back the Bucks in this game.