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Saturday at 6:30 pm. Bucks no longer have home court, so this series starts in the Barclays Center.

Bucks are the better defensive team, have more size, and the best scoring offense in the NBA. The Bucks split the season series, and in both cases they did not play Brooklyn with their full lineup in tact. Historically the Bucks have not had huge trouble defending Harden or Irving, but KD is another story, and all three they have never faced.

I think it’s foolish to say that anyone can “shut down” these three. I really don’t think that’s the key to the series. These are three of best offensive players of the last 25 years, so it’s important to give them their due. I think the Bucks are best served playing straight up on all 5 guys. Do not allow Harden to pass the ball to open shooters. Make this a one on one battle top to bottom- offer no help. The Nets thrive when they’re able to pass to wide open shooters. But when they miss- own the rebounds. The Bucks turned the page on Miami by delivering one of the most dominant rebounding performances in recent memory. Both teams missed a lot- the Bucks simply dominated on the boards. That’s the advantage they must press- own the paint and the glass.

Don’t expect the Bucks to emerge in this series. Then officials will favor the stars. The NBA sure as hell does not want a Utah/Milwaukee finals. The biggest impact of the Nets trio of superstars may have on the series is likely the way the officials will favor them. Straight up this series probably favors the Bucks. I don’t think it’ll be straight up at all. But I do think it goes 7 games...

Last edited by Music City
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Music,  I am with you on the refs/NBA.  There is no way in hell they want a Jazz vs. Bucks finals and they will do whatever they can to have NYC in the finals especially if LeBron is out of it.   Sure hope I am wrong.

Other than a few egregious examples, the games aren't fixed, but the league can cleary skew things by how they direct officials to call certain plays.

Two examples were I think things were fixed were Kings-Lakers 2002 Game 6 (no question) and Bucks-Celtics Game 7, 1987 (Pressey picks up 3 fouls in a short time span and fouls out to free up Bird).

Harden/Irving and Middleton/Holiday are going to be important, but I don't think those guys are going to be the key to the series. It really comes down to Durant/Giannis and, even more so, how they officiate Giannis on both ends of the court.

There is probably no player that ever lived better equipped to guard Durant one on one than Giannis. Even most elite defenders like Draymond Green (when Durant was at OKC) or Kawhi Leonard usually lacked the length to challenge Durant's jump shot. Durant was going to get off a decent shot against them and there wasn't much you could do about it in single coverage and that forces a double. The doubling was lethal against the Warriors with Curry and Klay to take advantage (but not with OKC with Westbrook clanking shots). Giannis, on the other hand, has the length to bother Durant's jump shots while still having the lateral movement to stay in front of him.

There are two keys. One question will be whether the officials allow Giannis to play physical defense against Durant to avoid foul trouble. A couple of soft foul calls on hand checks or challenges will completely change the nature of the game. Needless to say, the block/charges on the other end when Giannis is involved will have the same effect. The Nets have no one to guard Giannis, so expect a lot of Blake Griffin/Harden flops on their end.

If the game is officiated to allow Giannis to stay on the court (and he avoids careless fouls), the Bucks win in 6 or 7. If Giannis gets in foul trouble against Durant consistently, expect the Nets to win in 5. My guess would be that the officiating will differ depending on who is the home team.

I am suspicious that with almost all the big-market and/or coastal teams other than the Nets perhaps being eliminated soon (Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Celtics, Wizards, Heat) the home office may go out of their way to skew things towards getting the Nets to the Finals.

Phoenix/Denver/Utah/Dallas coming out to the West really hurts ratings. ESPN/TNT would obviously want the Nets coming out of the East. The Bucks or Sixers would at least generate some moderate interest. The nightmare scenario would be the Hawks coming out of the East to play one of those 4 teams I mentioned. Almost certainly not going to happen.

The Bucks are clearly equipped to defend this team man up, but they’re going to P&R all night long to force the Bucks to choose whether to switch or drop. That’s the cat and mouse game that is in front of them.

Durant can score on anyone, but when it comes down to the final minute, Budenholzer needs to have a plan that keeps them off balance. In the last game they played, Middleton was on Durant a lot. It seemed his job was to make them work, and Giannis destroyed Jordan in their matchup (Giannis had 49-8-4 in that game). In fact, the Bucks “Big 3” had 93 of the Bucks 117 points in that game. No Portis in that game and Lopez only played 25 min and was 4 pts/6 reb with 5 blocks.  

They’ll likely try to iso Lopez off a switch, and if he drops and there’s no recovery from the screened defender they’ll get torched. They’ll have to switch, or they’ll throw lobs to Deandre Jordan all night. If the Nets try to just iso one on one, advantage Bucks.

This will be a very entertaining series for sure. The Bucks have the horses to do it, will the refs/league let them? The Nets are not on the same level as the Knicks, Bulls, Lakers, or even the Clippers. Therin lies the chance. Let's see what happens.

I worry about the officiating but I think if the Bucks can stay competitive and it's a long series, that the Big 3 will have some kind of physical break down that allows the Bucks to pull it out.  All three of their stars are injury prone and you can expect the Bucks are going to use their physical advantage to pound them game in a game out.  The Nets really need Jeff Green so it will be interesting to see if and when he returns.  I wasn't impressed at all by the Nets versus the Celts.  The Bucks should have a huge advantage on the boards which can definitely be demoralizing.  It's going to be fascinating to watch how each coach approaches the match-ups.

So what do we think a successful result of this series is, other than obviously winning? Is a loss in a hard-fought, well-coached series enough for Bud to not be in danger? I'd say yes, but I wonder about others. The Nets do have three future HOFers, and Durant might be a Top 5 offensive player all-time.

I say win a minimum of 2 games, and be competitive in all of them, with a chance to win in the end. BUT, I will be disappointed if they lose the series, because I feel they are capable of winning it.