The NBA's first ever in-season tournament is underway with a matchup between the New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks. Our NBA odds series continues with a Knicks-Bucks prediction and pick.

Heading into the bracket stage of this tournament, the New York Knicks are on a roll. Their three-game win streak was highlighted by an impressive 13-point win over the Toronto Raptors in their most recent game. In this road contest, the Knicks were led by Jalen Brunson, who had 22 points, eight assists, and five rebounds on the night. They saw a well-balanced scoring effort as four players dropped 20+ points, and six players put up double figures. After squeaking in this tournament, the Knicks will try to make a massive statement by upsetting the #1 seed Milwaukee Bucks.

The top overall seed in the Eastern Conference for this tournament is the Milwaukee Bucks, and even after this group stage ended, they kept up their high level of play. On Saturday, the Atlanta Hawks traveled to Milwaukee, and the Bucks took it to them in the fourth quarter. Milwaukee outscored Atlanta 33-23 in the fourth quarter, which led to an 11-point win. Giannis Antetokounmpo took charge and did it all for the Bucks as he secured his first triple-double of the season with 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. Back at home again in this tournament game, the Bucks will try to advance to Las Vegas by taking care of the New York Knicks.

Here are the NBA odds, courtesy of FanDuel. 

NBA Odds: Knicks-Bucks Odds

New York Knicks: +5 (-108)

Milwaukee Bucks: -5 (-112)

Over: 229 (-110)

Under: 229 (-110)

How to Watch Knicks vs. Bucks

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT


Stream: fuboTV (Click for free trial)

Why The Knicks Could Cover The Spread

Since the New York Knicks hired Tom Thibodeau in 2020, this team's identity has revolved around defense. The Knicks have the third-best defensive rating in the league and have held opponents under 100 points six times this season. The key to their success has been incredible three-point defense. Not giving opponents any breathing room beyond the arc with their active hands and perfectly executed switches off of screens has been pivotal in limiting points. The Knicks are averaging 20.3 contested shots from three per game, tied for sixth most in the league. Additionally, they allow only a 35.6% field goal percentage from three, the ninth-lowest mark in the league. If New York can build a lead early, do not expect Milwaukee to be able to go on a run with three-point shooting.

Correlating with this intensity on the three-point line is the number of high-energy hustle plays the Knicks make. The Knicks lead the league in charges drawn per game and rank 11th in loose balls recovered per game with 5.7. In what is likely to be the most physical battle of the tournament, the tenacity New York brings will help keep this game tight.

Why The Bucks Could Cover The Spread

With the abundance of talented big men the Milwaukee Bucks have, it is no surprise that they have consistently made opponents pay in the paint. Inside five feet of the basket, the Bucks have been absolute money. Their efficiency is unmatched as they rank first in field goal percentage from this area with a 68.7% mark. This effectiveness also translates to their shots just outside this area as well. Milwaukee also ranks first in the league in field goal percentage 10-14 feet from the basket at 52.0% shooting. With minimal space, the Bucks can convert their shots with ease. While Mitchell Robinson and Julius Randle provide a tough presence inside the paint, with the physicality Antetokounmpo, Lopez, and Portis bring, the Bucks can put up numbers in the paint as usual.

Length is the name of the game for the Bucks. Adding to the mismatch in the frontcourt, the Knicks aren't the only team the Bucks outsize. With eight guys listed at 6'7″ or taller, opponents have had a tough time meeting the Bucks at the rim. Opposing teams are blocking Milwaukee's shots 4.1 times per game. This is the third-lowest mark in the league. Look for Milwaukee's size to compensate for the Knicks' physicality on defense.

Final Knicks-Bucks Prediction & Pick

This is slated to be one of the more exciting quarterfinal matchups because of the sheer length, hustle, and defense these teams possess. The Knicks come into this battle as one of the hottest teams in the league due to their defense on the three-point line and scrappiness going after the ball. With one of the most complete lineups in the league and no major injuries on the roster, they will be a tough first-round out. However, I think the Milwaukee Bucks will be able to cover. The biggest difference in this game will be the home-court advantage in Milwaukee. In their last three games against New York at home, Milwaukee is 2-1 against the spread with an average point differential of 10.3. Give me the Bucks to cover and move to the semi-finals in Las Vegas.

Final Knicks-Bucks Prediction & Pick: Milwaukee Bucks -5 (-112)