NBA Betting Guide for Tuesday 6/15/21: How James Harden's Return Changes Game 5

Betting on the NBA can get a little overwhelming throughout the season because there are games every day, and there's just a lot to track throughout the season and entering every night -- spreads, over/unders, injuries, and so on.

But you can rely on numberFire to help. We have a detailed betting algorithm that projects out games to see how often certain betting lines hit, and our oddsFire section of the site allows you to track movement in those lines and see where the action is coming from on particular games.

Where do our algorithm, our power rankings, and the betting trends identify value in tonight's games? (All odds from NBA Finals odds.)

Milwaukee Bucks (-198) at Brooklyn Nets (+166)

Spread: Milwaukee Bucks -5.0
Total: 218.0

Editor's Note: James Harden will play tonight after being initially listed as out, altering the initial analysis provided in this piece.

numberFire's algorithm now rates the Brooklyn Nets +2.5 as a two-star recommendation and their moneyline of +110 as a one-star recommendation. The over (221.5) is a five-star recommendation.

The Brooklyn Nets had surged out to a 2-0 series lead over Milwaukee and had a 23.6 net rating while doing so. They then went on to lose two straight games (during which the Bucks had a net rating of 8.0 of their own).

In total, the Nets still hold a point differential of 8.3 across these games, but the series is tied, and now the Bucks are favored in Game 5. The primary reason is that James Harden and Kyrie Irving are out.

numberFire's model is still heavy on the Nets, preferring their moneyline as a three-star recommendation out of five. That three-star love also applies to the Nets +5.0.

The public picks at oddsFire are going the opposite direction. There are 73% of tickets and 74% of the money on the Bucks to cover the spread, and while "only" 57% of the tickets are on the Bucks moneyline, that's accompanied by 70% of the money.

Though it feels like the public is overwhelmingly correct, given Brooklyn's injuries, a close look at the data may have us pumping the brakes on going all-in on the Bucks.

Over the past 25 games in which Giannis Antetokounmpo has played, the Bucks have a net rating of 5.0 points and a record of 18-7, a sample of 1,210 minutes.

In the past 25 games with Kevin Durant active but without Irving and Harden on the floor, the Nets have a nice net rating of 6.9 in a 371-minute sample. Again, that's not simply when Durant is on the floor. It's in games he's played in and without Irving or Harden for either rest or inactivity.

Using these inputs in my model, the Nets are actually slim 1.0-point favorites. It feels weird to say, but the data does still like the Nets. Given the injuries, however, I'd rather just take the points with the Nets +5.0 at home.

numberFire's algorithm actually loves the over, rating it as a five-star recommendation out of five, which is quite rare to see. The median projected point total in this game, per our model, is 236.6. My model has it much lower at 223.8 but still leans toward the over.

The betting public is finally torn on an over/under: 56% of the tickets are on the over but just 48% of the money is.

Because the data says not to be out on Brooklyn, Nets +5.0 and the over are where I'm landing.