The Milwaukee Bucks (20-7) visit the Memphis Grizzlies (18-9) on Thursday night. Action tips off at 8:10 pm ET. Below we continue our NBA odds series with a Bucks-Grizzlies prediction and pick.
Milwaukee has won five of their last six games and sits in second place in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks are 15-10-2 against the spread while 52% of their games have gone under. Memphis has won six games in a row to propel them to second place in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies are 13-12-2 against the spread while 50% of their games have gone over. This will be the first of two meetings between the teams this season. Last year the teams split the series, 1-1, with each team picking up a double-digit home victory.
Here are the Bucks-Grizzlies NBA odds, courtesy of FanDuel
NBA Odds: Bucks-Grizzlies Odds
Milwaukee Bucks: +2 (-108)
Memphis Grizzlies: -2 (-112)
Over: 227 (-110)
Under: 227 (-110)
Why The Bucks Could Cover The Spread
Milwaukee picked up right where they left off last season and are among the best teams in the NBA. The Bucks surprisingly rank just 16th in scoring and 17th in offensive rating. They’ve been stellar defensively and on the glass, however. Milwaukee ranks second in points allowed and first in defensive rating. They’re also second in both rebound differential and rebound rate. The Bucks will notably be without guard Jrue Holiday tonight due to an illness.
With guard Jrue Holiday out, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo will be forced to take on an even bigger role than he’s even used to. While losing Holiday does hurt their chances of covering, having the ball in the hands of your best player more can be a blessing in disguise. Especially considering how well Milwaukee’s role players have performed this season, Giannis could be in for a major night from a playmaking standpoint. The Greek Freak’s numbers are absurd. He’s averaging 31.1 PPG, 11.3 RPG, and 5.3 APG while shooting 53% from the field. Giannis has struggled recently with back-to-back games of underling 42% shooting. That being said, he remains one of the best players in the NBA and could have some added motivation matched up with Memphis’ talented frontline.
The absence of Holiday could be just what wing Khris Middleton needed to get his season back on track. The versatile scorer has been up-and-down since returning from injury. He’s averaged just 12.5 PPG on 37% shooting in his six appearances this season. However, with Holiday out he will be forced to handle the ball more which could help him have a signature Middleton performance. Tuesday’s win over Golden State was the best he’s looked all season and being forced into a higher usage rate could be just what Middleton needed to get back on track.
Why The Grizzlies Could Cover The Spread
Memphis has proven last year’s success was no fluke, as they’ve been just as good this season despite dealing with a number of key injuries. The Grizzlies are a great all-around team. They rank seventh in scoring and ninth in offensive rating. They’re nearly as impressive on defense, ranking 12th in points allowed and sixth in defensive rating. Memphis’ biggest strength, however, is their ability to rebound. The Grizzlies rank first in both rebound differential and rebound rate. They continue to be without 25 PPG scorer Desmond Bane as he recovers from an injury.
The Grizzlies have done well to withstand Bane’s absence, but that’s no coincidence. Just as Bane went down, forward Jaren Jackson Jr. made his season debut. Jackson has been incredible even in limited minutes. Since returning, the forward has averaged 18.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 3.6 BPG. No, that is not a typo. Jaren Jackson Jr. is averaging 3.6 blocks per game in his 11 games played this season. If that held, it would be the highest number since 2016. He’s been a force on the defensive end and is, in theory, the perfect Giannis stopper at 6’11” and 242 lbs. He’s yet to slow the Greek Freak down in their previous meetings (Giannis averages 32 PPG and 11 RPG in five games versus Jackson), but it’s clear JJ has taken his game up a notch this season.
It’ll take a team defensive effort to contain Milwaukee’s offense but on the other side of the ball, the Grizzlies could be in for a major performance. The Bucks have a strong defense but will be without lockdown defender Jrue Holiday. That bodes especially well for Ja Morant. Ja leads the team in scoring (27.7 PPG) and assists (7.8) while shooting 46% from the field and 36% from three. He’s been quiet over the last week, but a date with the Holiday-less Bucks bodes well both for his individual stat line, and Memphis’ chances to cover the spread.
Final Bucks-Grizzlies Prediction & Pick
Holiday being out is a huge deal. Unless Khris Middleton suddenly turns back into his prime self, I could see this getting out of hand with Milwaukee helpless to stop Ja.
Final Bucks-Grizzlies Prediction & Pick: Memphis Grizzlies -2 (112)