NBA odds: Nuggets vs. Bucks prediction, odds, pick, and more
The All-Star break is drawing nearer, but first NBA fans will be treated to a showdown between two of the league’s top teams on Tuesday night in Milwaukee. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks square off against Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets as both teams look to sustain momentum and build for the second half of the season. Let’s continue our NBA odds series and make a Nuggets-Bucks prediction and pick.
Milwaukee has responded a a five-game losing streak in mid-February by rattling off five straight wins. Denver has won consecutive games after defeating the Chicago Bulls on Monday night in the Windy City.
Which team has the advantage on Tuesday night? Let’s take a closer look at the betting odds and dissect the team in best shape to beat the spread.
NBA Odds: Nuggets-Bucks Odds
Denver Nuggets +7.5 (-114)
Milwaukee Bucks -7.5 (-106)
Over 235 points (-108)
Under 235 points (-112)
All odds obtained via BetOnline.ag
Why the Nuggets could cover the spread
Denver’s top three offensive playmakers and shot creators have been dialed in as of late.
Nikola Jokic had a triple-double in Saturday’s win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, then torched the Bulls for 39 points while nearly finishing with yet another triple-double on the night.
Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are also playing at a high level. Murray has scored at least 24 points in each of the past two games and is a combined 8-for-14 from beyond the arc. Porter had 20 points and 10 boards against the Thunder, then put up 17-15 against the Bulls. He, too, has been shooting the ball well from beyond the arc, making seven of his last 12 3-point tries.
Denver’s ability to shoot from the perimeter should be massive in terms of being able to isolate Jokic on the low block. Opponents are shooting close to 38 percent from beyond the arc against the Bucks.
A perimeter assault would force Milwaukee to guard, and likely result in Jokic getting more on-on-one matchups with Brook Lopez.
Now, Lopez is a capable defender. But Jokic has been on another planet in terms of creating offense in the post and using his size to bully inside or utilize the high-arcing jumper to shoot over opposing bigs. Moreover, he excels at hitting cutters and firing cross-court dimes to open shooters on the wings.
This one is also a contrast in styles. The Nuggets ranks 28th in pace, whereas the Bucks are fourth in that department. If Denver can slow the game down and execute its offense, the Nuggets can frustrate a Milwaukee team that is at its best when it can get out and run in transition.
7.5 points might be a lot to give up to a Nuggets team whose top three offensive players are in rhythm, especially with the way they are shooting the ball from deep.
Why the Bucks could cover the spread
Milwaukee also had a day off Monday, whereas this will be the second leg of a back-to-back for the Nuggets. A rested Bucks team will be motivated to earn another big win against a top Western Conference contender.
Giannis has been thoroughly dominant as of late. He put up at least 36 points in each of the last four games and has also made his presence felt defensively.
Antetokounmpo had four blocks against the Clippers, routinely rotating over to make plays on the weak side. He could play a huge role in slowing Jokic on the block, depending on how the Bucks choose to match up.
The Nuggets have done an excellent job defending the arc this season, but they are not the best in terms of preventing straight-line drives and preventing teams from getting points in the paint. Denver also ranks 18th in free-throw attempts allowed per game. That is beneficial for a Bucks team at its best when Antetokounmpo can make plays inside and get to the charity stripe.
Denver could also have a hard time matching up with Milwaukee, and especially Khris Middleton. The two-time All-Star poses issues with his size and ability to create for his teammates while also being capable of pulling up off the dribble. Someone like Gary Harris or JaMychal Green might be an ideal cover on Middleton, but both are nursing injuries, and their statuses are unknown for Tuesday.
Finally, the Bucks just have more scoring depth, and their stretch bigs could be a problem. Both Bobby Portis and Lopez are more than capable of stretching the floor and forcing Jokic to vacate the paint. This should again allow especially Antetokounmpo to carve out driving lanes and get to the bucket.
Final prediction and pick for Nuggets-Bucks
7.5 points is a lot to give up against a tough Nuggets team. But Denver’s depth is already a bit of a question mark, even more so in the second leg of a back-to-back.
Mike Budenholzer’s Bucks are scoring at a high level and defending when they need to get stops. The Nuggets have their hands full, especially with Antetokounmpo playing at a very high level.
FINAL PREDICTION & PICK FOR NUGGETS-BUCKS: MIL 122, DEN 109 (MIL -7.5)