Preview capsule for the Brooklyn-Milwaukee Eastern Conference semifinal series that starts Saturday:
No. 2 BROOKLYN NETS (48-24, 4-1) vs. No. 3 MILWAUKEE BUCKS (46-26, 4-0)
Season series: Bucks, 2-1.
Story line: Brooklyn’s Big Three gets its biggest test yet, against a Milwaukee team that revamped its roster in response to the playoff defeats of the past two seasons. The Nets’ trio of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving was never together for any of the three meetings with Milwaukee this season. The Bucks’ leading trio of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday combined to average 85.3 points against the Nets in those three games; they all played in each of those.
Key matchup: Milwaukee’s size vs. Brooklyn. The Bucks looked like they were playing 10-on-5 against Miami by using their size and length to deny everything the Heat tried and they’ll attempt to defend the Nets the same way. This is a matchup where LaMarcus Aldridge, a midseason Brooklyn acquisition who wound up having to retire because of an irregular heartbeat, would have helped the Nets tremendously.
Injury watch: Milwaukee’s Donte DiVicenzo (ankle) is out for the rest of the playoffs.
Numbers of note: Antetokounmpo had at least 34 points in all three games against the Nets, with a high of 49. … Brooklyn’s Joe Harris made 13 shots against the Bucks this season, 10 of them being 3’s. … The average numbers in the three regular-season games were quite even; the Bucks held a 121.3-119 edge in average scoring, the Nets averaged 21.7 assists to Milwaukee’s 21, rebounds per game were tied at 47 apiece, the Nets were 49 of 64 from the line while Milwaukee was 48 of 63. One key edge was 3-point shooting, where Brooklyn made 45% to Milwaukee’s 36%.
Prediction: Bucks in 7.
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