The 75th anniversary of the NBA will tip off on Oct. 18 when the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks serve host to the Brooklyn Nets in the first game of the 2021-22 season. These two teams will face off after the Bucks beat the Nets in a thrilling seven-game series in the second round of the postseason en route to the franchise’s first championship in 50 years.
Milwaukee will attempt to send a message to the league in its first game of the season, while Brooklyn will try to play spoiler to the Bucks ring ceremony inside Fiserv Forum. Both of these teams are considered to be the best squads in the Eastern Conference, and it could serve as an early-season glimpse at a potential Eastern Conference finals matchup.
It should be an exciting matchup against two of the East’s best teams. Here’s everything you need to know about Nets-Bucks showdown on opening night.
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- Date: Tuesday, Oct. 19 | 7:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Fiserv Forum — Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- TV: TNT | Live stream: TNT
- Odds: BKN -125; MIL + 105 | Over/Under: 237.5 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Bucks: Milwaukee is coming into the season with a championship trophy on its mantle, and the motivation to get back to that spot once again. The Bucks return largely the same roster that got them a ring a season ago, with the exception of PJ Tucker who signed with the Miami Heat. The benefit of continuity from last season is not having to deal with any chemistry changes on the roster, which means — aside from the normal rust to start the season — the Bucks shouldn’t have to worry about any potential fits on the team or figuring out how to use any player.
One major storyline to watch early on in the season is how Giannis Antetokounmpo’s shooting has improved. Though he’s joked in the past about taking more 3s, his jump shot is something that he’s talked about improving, and it’s always been the thing that if he ever becomes an elite scorer from midrange even, his game will be elevated even further.
Nets: It’s hard to ignore the elephant in the room with Brooklyn, which is the absence of Kyrie Irving, who the Nets decided will remain away from the team until he’s vaccinated and is allowed to play in all games under New York City’s mandate guidelines. But Tuesday night the focus will shift away from Irving and onto the players who will be suiting up for the Nets, with all eyes on Kevin Durant and James Harden.
Durant is the preseason favorite to win MVP, and was the No. 1 player in our annual Top 100 ranking. It’s not a surprise given Durant’s performance in the playoffs a season ago, where he dropped 48 points in Game 7 against the Bucks to single-handily carry the Nets to the Eastern Conference finals. He’ll begin his pursuit of another MVP trophy against the Bucks, where he’ll also surely like to give them the first loss of the season.
I think the Bucks will be too distracted by the ring ceremony in this game, giving the Nets the perfect opportunity to assert their dominance in this matchup. Brooklyn will probably also like to give everyone else something to talk about aside from Irving, and a statement win to open the season would certainly do that. Pick: Nets -1.5