The Milwaukee Bucks sure enough surprised an awful lot of people as they drove to the regular season Eastern Conference title, especially as all the pre-season talk surrounded the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers or even Toronto Raptors ascending to a position of supremacy after LeBron James' departure from Cleveland. Now the Bucks find themselves facing the #8 seed in the East, a team they handled easily this year, with the Detroit Pistons visiting them at 7 PM ET. It's coming your way on TNT, and BetAnySports customers can place wagers on it in progress through the mechanism provided by Live Betting Ultra.
With a 60-22 record, the Bucks surpassed all expectations, which is why Mike Budenholzer, the former Atlanta coach and San Antonio assistant, is the coach of the year. He did have a pretty good foundation, however, in the person of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is your likely MVP. We don't have to go over his stats, but he is the major difference-maker in this game, at both ends of the floor.
Dwane Casey, who presided over a lot of post-season under-achievement in Toronto, found a new home in the Motor City, and the Pistons prevailed at the tail end of a pretty fierce battle for the final playoff spots in the East. Does that mean they are capable of winning even one game in this series? The 41-41 Pistons have a pair of effective big men in Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, but they didn't play a lot of defense, allowing opponents to shoot just shy of 47% from the field. That is not a good thing. The good news is that when those opponents miss, they aren't often getting a second chance, as evidenced by Detroit's fourth place standing in defensive rebounding percentage. And statistically speaking, although the Bucks have shined in many areas, grabbing offensive rebounds hasn't been one of them (27th in the league).
In the NBA playoff betting odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, the Bucks are huge favorites:
Milwaukee Bucks -13
Detroit Pistons +13
Over 218.5 points -110
Under 218.5 points -110
Milwaukee had a positive differential of +8.8 points per 100 possessions, which was the best figure in the NBA. That only happens if a team can do it at both ends of the floor. Indeed, they were 4th in Offensive Rating and #1 in Defensive Rating, although it has to be a concern that former rookie of the year Malcolm Brogdon, a staunch defender, is out of action with his foot injury.
There is no team in the league that allows as many three-point attempts - or makes -as Milwaukee does. And in this day and age, with the analytics telling teams that these shots make the most sense in the general scheme of things, that becomes a potential trouble spot for them along the road. But the objective of Budenholzer's defensive scheme is to make the other side take long-range shots with the wrong people, and that has worked out for them.
In the four games between these teams, Detroit went winless, but was able to keep the deficit within ten points on one occasion and just three points on another. They made just one-third of their three-point shots in those games and allowed the Bucks to shoot 52.4% overall.
What might be interesting for you is that the Bucks weren't exactly coming from way behind in those four wins. In fact, they had leads of 13, 16, 12 and 11 points going into the locker room at halftime. In three of those games, they led by at least eight points at the end of the first quarter (in the other they trailed by two points, but then smoked the Pistons with a 30-16 second period).
So maybe you're getting the point here. We look at that 13-point spread and we're thinking that it's an awfully big number. But you know that in all these games the Pistons have vowed to get off to a better start and they really haven't been ready for Milwaukee has thrown at them. And the Bucks have been fooled by nothing, and motivated to jump on them.
What we're going to do here is lay 7.5 points with the Bucks as a first half proposition. The price as we write this is -105 at BetAnySports, where you can take advantage of reduced juice and Live Betting Ultra to get the most out of your game, after getting it all started with a deposit using your major credit card, person-to-person transfers (like Western Union) or the virtual currency of Bitcoin, which is fast and easy with their automated system, and NEVER incurs a transaction fee!