The Milwaukee Bucks will be out to extend their season's best winning streak when they visit the Brooklyn Nets in the early hours on Wednesday morning.
The Bucks now have the best record in the entire NBA, thanks to the Boston Celtics’ loss to the New York Knicks while, of course, the Bucks’ 14-game winning streak also helps.
The 2021 champions are on the longest win streak of the 2022/23 season, having overtaken the Nets’ 12-game streak, which feels like a lifetime ago after their huge roster turnover.
The picture at the top of the Eastern Conference has changed after Brooklyn sold off the biggest stars last month, with the new-look Nets are hoping to cling on to a top-six place, but can they hold pace with the rampant Bucks?
|What||Milwaukee Bucks @ Brooklyn Nets|
|Where||Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York|
|When||00:40, Wednesday 1st March 2023|
|How to watch||bet365 Sports Live Streaming, NBA League Pass|
|Odds||MIL Bucks 5/11, BKN Nets 9/5|
The Nets’ recent overhaul got a boost given the huge returns they received for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. A franchise which looked like it was going nowhere in the last embers of a super team project has renewed hope for the future, but their short-term outlook isn’t great.
They could surround an elite scorer with the good defensive pieces they’ve acquired, with coach Jacque Vaughn’s recent long-term extension a sign that Brooklyn plan to go down that route. That faith in him is good, as he doesn’t have the options right now to keep the team moving forwards.
The Nets are now overstocked with lengthy wing defenders and lacking any kind of proven scorer. Across their last four games, four different players have led them in scoring.
The Nets have gone 2-6 across their last eight games and that’s almost wiped out the cushion they had above the Play-in spots.
Just two games split them from the seventh-placed Miami Heat, while teams even further back are hunting them down, with the Nets 13/10 to end up in the Play-in tournament.
Without a scorer, Vaughn is asking who are primarily role players to step up into a void left by two of the best players in the league. Not only is that not working, but it’s also compromising their main strength.
While they’ve got great defensive players on paper, the Nets’ last two games have seen them concede 260 points. With four defeats in five things just seem to be getting worse for the Nets, suddenly even their 6.5-game lead over 11th looks shaky.
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Giannis Antetokounmpo made a speedy return to the side against the Maimi Heat, but he pulled up early in that game. The Bucks has basically been without their star man for the past three games, but that hasn’t derailed their winning streak.
On top of the best record in the league, the Bucks also possess the best defensive record in the NBA. They concede just 109.3 points per 100 possessions, having added to their defence at the trade deadline by moving for Jae Crowder.
Crowder has only had a limited chance to make an impact, so the Bucks’ improvement is a sign of them coming together as a team. They’ve conceded 100, 99 and 101 points across their last three games and should be able to shut down a Nets’ team without elite cutting edge.
The points line here is set at 228.5 and going under that number at 10/11 looks like the way to go.
The Nets may be defensively vulnerable but the Bucks haven’t been pulling away from opponents of late. Back the mean Bucks’ defence to make this a low-scoring match-up.
Giannis remains questionable for Tuesday’s clash, but the Bucks have players who have been stepping up without him. Their other All-Star - Jrue Holiday - has been able to flex his scoring muscles across the last few games without Giannis.
Earlier in the season he torched both the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors with 35 and 37-point hauls. He’s scored 112 points across his last four matches and the former Pelicans guard is back to the scoring levels he displayed in New Orleans.
Even with Giannis on the court, Holiday can step up, having put 40 points past the Boston Celtics ahead of the All-Star break to continue their winning streak.
Despite Holiday’s increasing importance to the Bucks going forward, he’s priced at 20/23 to score over 18.5 points against the Nets.
While the hosts have capable defenders, their recent form mixed with Holiday’s run makes him worth backing to top that number.