The second-round series between the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks is a perfect example of how fast things can change in the NBA. Last week, the Nets were up 2-0 and looked like they would sail through to the Eastern Conference finals. Now, it's all tied up at 2-2, and the Bucks are favored to advance after injuries to James Harden and Kyrie Irving.
Harden hasn't played since going down with a hamstring injury in Game 1, and Irving suffered a sprained ankle in Game 4. Both have already been ruled out for Game 5 on Tuesday night, and it's unclear when they might come back. All of a sudden, the Bucks have a tremendous opportunity.
Ahead of Game 5, here's everything you need to know:
(2) Brooklyn Nets vs. (3) Milwaukee Bucks
- Date: Tuesday, June 15 | Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Barclays Center -- Brooklyn, New York
- TV: TNT | Live stream: TNT
- Odds: MIL: -185 | Nets +165 | O/U: 217.5 (William Hill Sportsbook)
Nets: The Nets were one of the favorites to win the title coming into the season, and they solidified that status when they traded for James Harden. But while there was never any question about their talent, there were concerns about their ability to stay healthy. Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving barely played together in the regular season due to various injuries and now we've reached Game 5 of the second round and Durant is the only one left. He's one of the best players in the league, and if anyone can win a game by themselves, it's him. However, it must be said that the Nets looked overmatched in Game 4 after Irving's injury.
Bucks: After their embarrassing Game 2 loss, the Bucks looked like they were headed toward another early playoff exit and a long summer of soul searching. Now, they've tied things up and have the upper hand in this series. And while things have certainly broken their way on the injury front, they deserve credit for their response once the series moved back to Milwaukee. They won an ugly, hard-fought Game 3, and were playing well in Game 4 before pulling away after Irving hurt his ankle. If they keep the same mentality they showed in the last two games, they should be able to handle a shorthanded Nets team.
Milwaukee is favored in this one, and for good reason. The whole premise of Brooklyn's superteam revolves around having its stars available. Without two of them, they just aren't very good. We'll ride with the Bucks on the road. Pick: Bucks -4