There are many ways to spin the narrative surrounding this game between Milwaukee and Brooklyn so that it can fit the way you want it to.
The Bucks are now a rudderless ship, destroyed by failing to capitalize on a massive opportunity in Game 5 and they will fall at home as a result. Or, like a cornered animal the Bucks will come out desperate and wild, taking a must-win game and forcing a Game 7 in Brooklyn. Both of those narratives are somewhat lazy, so let’s look at the tangible evidence and see where the value lies.
The betting market has been all over the place in this series, and again for Game 6 we have a line that seems out of place. Milwaukee opened as a 3.5-point favorite for this elimination game, but the market decided that was not enough and drove it to -5 and even -5.5 at BetMGM. Why? By all accounts, James Harden is going to play and Kevin Durant is not injured, but oddsmakers decided to drive this line up 2.5 points. This makes no sense.
In Game 4 of this series, Brooklyn was favored on the road with both Durant and Kyrie Irving in the lineup. They would lose the game and Irving to injury, but the line was still correct, an adjustment to overzealous line in Game 3 that made the Bucks a favorite of 3.5 points.
Now, we are back in the same venue, this time with Harden on the floor, and the market has deemed that the Nets somehow got six points worse despite the result of Tuesday night. Does that make much sense?
Throughout this entire series, the market has been trying to tell bettors that Milwaukee is the better team and because of that Brooklyn is 4-1 ATS in this series despite a 3-2 SU record. Matchups aside, there is immense value in this line. Even if you believe Harden to be worth nothing or even a detriment to the Nets’ cause, this line is a complete overreaction. Should the Bucks really be favored on the road in Brooklyn? Because that is what this line is telling you a Game 7 line would look like.
Brooklyn still has some real advantages in matchups on the floor that still work in its favor as well. As Durant showed Milwaukee on Tuesday, it has no option for him defensively. P.J. Tucker did a fine job for a single game at home, but there is no containing Durant, especially when he is matchup hunting.
In the fourth quarter the Nets ran Pat Connaughton through the grinder, bringing his man over for a screen on Durant’s defender almost every play, and he was obliterated on those possessions. This is where Donte DiVincenzo’s absence is felt by the Bucks, as there is no better option for them defensively. Whether it is Connaughton or Bryn Forbes, there will always be a weak link on the court for the Nets to exploit.
The injury situation is not great for Brooklyn, especially in the big picture of a title run, but when it comes to one game, the Nets are still plenty capable of winning and covering point spreads. With an inflated number and plenty of matchup advantages this is a play worth making on the underdog come Thursday night.