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NBA expert Jonathan Macri is back and ready for the 2021 NBA season! He's here with his prediction and pick for the 2021 NBA season opener between the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets.

NBA Predictions: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Brooklyn Nets Picks

When: Tuesday, October 19, 7:30 p.m ET

Where to Watch: TNT

Spread: Bucks -1

Total: 238.5

Underdog enters series against the favorite.Underdog wins series against the favorite.Underdog becomes favorite.Underdog-turned-favorite wins the whole damn thing.Underdog-turned-favorite faces original favorite…and goes back to being the underdog.

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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Brooklyn Nets Prediction

If you’ve followed NBA history for any appreciable amount of time, you know this isn’t how the last chapter of this story is supposed to go.

When a team breaks through and topples the nemesis everyone figured would prevent their ascension to the throne, they don’t usually take a step backward in the eyes of fans, the media, and most importantly, the betting public. And yet, that’s precisely what’s happened to the Milwaukee Bucks.

No one gave them much of a chance to defeat the Nets in last season’s playoffs, especially not after they went down 0-2 and looked downright lost on offense through the first two games of the series. Even after they tied things up after four games, there was nothing obvious about their performance that made anyone think a turnaround was actually in store. If anything, Brooklyn’s injuries opened the door for a longer series, but not necessarily one with a different outcome.

The Bucks, of course, had other ideas. They did just enough to win and then continued their winning ways all the way through the next two rounds, culminating in the franchise’s first title in half a century. Along the way, the league’s reigning two-time MVP entering last season seemed to unlock the final cheat code in his game, transforming him into an unguardable beast who dropped 50 points in the deciding game of the NBA Finals.

And if we just paid attention to the last few chapters of that story, perhaps the underdog-turned-favorite wouldn’t have gone back to being the underdog after all, except we know that isn’t all there is to tell. The “what if” about Kevin Durant’s shoe size has become over-asked at this point, but with good reason. That series was Brooklyn’s to lose, even with a healthy Kyrie Irving available for just three and a half games and a hobbled James Harden in uniform for just three more.

Even so, something doesn’t add up. It would be one thing if Brooklyn’s big three were all available and ready to go, but with Irving sidelined by choice for the foreseeable future, that’s not the case. Perhaps a healthy Harden alone should be enough to make the Nets slight favorites but overwhelming? No, no, something surely is amiss.

And yet, looking at the yearlong championship odds, that’s exactly where Brooklyn finds itself. Milwaukee, the defending champs who return almost completely the same roster, save for George Hill in place of PJ Tucker and Donte DiVincenzo, nearly recovered from an injury that caused him to miss nearly all of the playoffs, is a somewhat distant third at nearly 10-to-1 odds.

Defending champs don’t usually get a chance to pin a “nobody believes in us” banner inside their locker room, but going into opening night, that’s exactly the privilege the Bucks can afford themselves. The line on the game itself – a virtual pick’em - is far less important than the larger narrative surrounding both teams before the season has begun.

Despite one of its best players choosing to sit out the season potentially, Brooklyn is seen as being good enough to overcome anything that comes their way. The Bucks, even after they’ve conquered their playoff demons and watching may be the most dominant player in the sport rise to new heights, is still seen as a level below.

Milwaukee enters this game relatively healthy, except for DiVincenzo, Bobby Portis, and new additions Rodney Hood and Semi Ojeleye. The Nets, save for Irving, have their full allotment of players but are on the road, with no telling how their hosts will be motivated – or unnerved – by the pregame ceremonies.

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Brooklyn Nets Pick

Looking at preseason numbers here is useless. Milwaukee’s core all missed multiple games and played less than half the minutes in the games they suited up for. Kevin Durant and James Harden took similar approaches. So picking this game comes down to feel.

Although there is this: the Bucks, for all their struggles at times against the Nets, Hawks, and Suns, still managed to win 10 of 11 home games in the postseason, with a positive 12.6 net rating overall and a positive 10.7 rating even if you take away the first-round Game 2 beat down of the Heat.

Milwaukee cleared a big hurdle last season. Thanks to popular perception, though, they’ll get every ounce of available motivation for a repeat run as well. So they’re the pick here.

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Brooklyn Nets Betting Pick

Article Author


Dean of Knicks Film School, host: KFS Pod, co-host: Pick N Pod. There isn't much about Knicks basketball that Jonathan doesn't know and he's here to break down the big games each and every week.


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