New Jersey Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks Preview and Pick

New Jersey Nets (26-33) at Milwaukee Bucks -3.5 (29-33) O/U 205.5 8 PM ET Tuesday March 3, 2009
By Jason Green at

Tonight the New Jersey Nets travel to Milwaukee to play the Bucks. Even though the Bucks have been decimated by injuries they still hold the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Nets have some work to do if they want to make the playoffs, as they currently hold the 10th seed. Neither team is really playing well, as the Bucks are 5-5 in their last 10 games and the Nets are 4-6. Even though the Bucks have lost 4 of their last 5 games they have won 2 in a row at home. Other players are stepping up for the Bucks, but without some of their key players it will be hard to hold off teams chasing them to get into the post season. One of those teams is the Nets and while they have the pieces to challenge for the playoffs they are still young and inconsistent and their defense needs to improve.

This season the Bucks are 18-11 at home and the Nets are 13-15 away from the Garden State.

Hoops bookies have the Bucks as 3.5 point favorites with a total around 205.5. The Bucks are posted at -145 as home favorites and the Nets are posted at +125 as away dogs.

The Nets come into this game after losing to the New Orleans Hornets 99-96 on Sunday. The high scorers for the Nets in that game were Devin Harris and Vince Carter, who both went for 26 points. For the game the Nets shot 37/83 for a FG% of 44.6%. On D the Nets actually played solid in the loss, as they held the Hornets to 32/80 for a FG% of 40%.

The Bucks come into this game after schooling the Washington Wizards 109-93 on Saturday night. The high scorer for the Bucks in that game was Charlie Villanueva going for 25 points on 9/13 shooting. For the game the Bucks shot lights out going 41/78 from the field for a FG% of 52.6%. On D the Bucks allowed the Wizards to shoot 34/71 for a FG% of 47.9%.

This season the Bucks rank 13th in scoring (99.7 ppg) and the Nets rank 20th (98.1 ppg). On D the Bucks rank 16th in points allowed (99.7 ppg) and the Nets rank 18th (100.5 ppg). Neither team really dominates the glass, as the Bucks have a rebounding differential of +0.7 rpg and the Nets are at -0.7 rpg.

Even though the Bucks are 4 games under .500 they are one of the better teams to lay some green on this season, as they are 35-24-3 ATS, while the Nets are 30-28. In terms of Over/Under games the Bucks are 35-27 and the Nets are 30-28.

On the injury front PG’s Kenyon Dooling and Devin Harris are day-to-day for the Nets and SF Joe Alexander is day-to-day for the Bucks.

The Bucks do not have the best interior defense and the game may come down to how Brook Lopez plays. Lopez (12.5 ppg) has proved he is a legit big man and he needs to have a good game tonight in order for the Nets to pull off the upset.

Lopez also needs to play good D against the forward tandem of Richard Jefferson (18.3 ppg) and Charlie Villanueva (16.4 ppg) and not let them score in the lane.

Conversely the Bucks need to play good perimeter D on the tandem of Vince Carter (20.6 ppg) and Devin Harris (22.3 ppg). The Bucks need to especially worry about Carter, who in his last game against the Bucks recorded his 5th career triple-double and in his last 3 games in Milwaukee he is averaging 22.3 ppg, 10.3 assists, and 55.1% shooting.

The Bucks are still in the playoff race even without their leading scorer (Michael Redd), leading rebounder (Andrew Bogut), and leading assist man (Luke Ridnour) and they need to win games like these against teams chasing them if they want to stay in the playoff race.

The Nets have won 4 of their last 5 games in Milwaukee.

Jason’s Pick: I like the Nets.