It’s been roughly 72 hours since the Nets, who have lost just once this postseason (the Celtics needed a 50-point explosion from Jayson Tatum to eke out a win in Game 3 of their first-round series), took a two games to none lead over Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference semis, plastering the Bucks by a colossal 125-86 margin Monday night in Brooklyn. James Harden, who spent his Monday night in street clothes, would be a monumental loss for most teams (look at the Rockets, who disintegrated post-Harden), but not the high-powered Nets, who barely broke a sweat in Game 2, leading by as many as 49 at one point.
If any Eastern Conference opponent could put a scare into Brooklyn, Milwaukee, led by two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, looked liked the one. But rather than rise to the occasion, the Bucks retreated into their shell like a frightened turtle, barely showing a pulse in their two games at Barclays Center. Following Monday night’s glorified scrimmage—Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving spent most of the fourth quarter as spectators—the series will resume Thursday night in Milwaukee, where the Bucks will host Games 3 and 4. Despite being thoroughly outclassed in their first two games, sportsbooks apparently haven’t lost faith in the Bucks, installing them as 3.5-point home favorites ahead of Thursday’s 7:30 ET tipoff.
Milwaukee actually won two of its three regular-season encounters with Brooklyn including both meetings at Fiserv Forum, but after getting pummeled in Game 2, many bettors were puzzled to see them as favorites, even with Harden hobbled.
Anything can happen on a given night and the Bucks, a team in desperate need of a pick-me-up, should benefit from their home crowd after playing the past two games in hostile territory. But how in the world could they be favored over the Nets, who have averaged an incredible 122.4 points per game throughout their playoff run? The sharps in Vegas must know something the rest of us don’t, because like the majority of Twitter, I’m just not seeing it.