The Milwaukee Bucks are laying too many points on the NBA odds board for Wednesday’s matchup with the Miami Heat.
Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Wednesday, March 2, 2022 – 8:00 PM EST at Fiserv Forum
The Milwaukee Bucks have a lot of good things going for them. The defending champs have a viable Big Three in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday, they’ve got a deep roster, and from a betting perspective, Milwaukee’s small-market value is always a plus. So why are the Bucks one of the worst NBA picks in the league at 36-25 SU and 27-35 ATS?
For that matter, why are the Miami Heat (41-21 SU, 35-26-1 ATS) raking in all this money? The difference is defense, and it’s enough of a difference to make Miami the right choice as 5.5-point road dogs on the NBA odds board at DraftKings for Tuesday’s tilt with Milwaukee.
As good as the Bucks are, and even though Antetokounmpo was the 2020 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, they don’t have elite-level stopping power. Milwaukee has allowed 107.8 points per 100 possessions this year, ranking No. 13 overall – that’s three spots lower than last season. Losing Brook Lopez (back) on Opening Day hasn’t helped.
Bobby Portis has filled in quite well for Lopez at the center, but despite his 8.3 defensive rebounds per 36 minutes, most of Portis’s value has been on offense. Milwaukee has addressed that by picking up Serge Ibaka and DeAndre’ Bembry; however, both players have struggled to score in their limited minutes off the bench, and the Bucks are 2-4 SU and 1-5 ATS since acquiring Ibaka at the trade deadline.
Then you have the Heat, who rank fifth overall in defense at 105.4 points allowed per 100 possessions. They’ve gotten quality play at both ends from Kyle Lowry, as well returning starters Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, but the big surprise has been P.J. Tucker.
After winning the title with Milwaukee last year as a late addition to their roster, Tucker signed with Miami in the offseason and is arguably playing the best basketball of his career at age 36. Tucker’s defense has never been in question, of course. It’s the “3” in his “3-and-D” that hasn’t always been there, but Tucker leads the league in 3-point shooting this year at 45.1 percent, easily his career-high. The Bucks sure could use a player like that.
The Gift of Gabe
Unfortunately for the Heat, Lowry is once again out of the lineup for undisclosed personal reasons, although with Gabe Vincent and others manning the point, Miami beat the Chicago Bulls 112-99 Monday night as 5-point home faves. That runs their record to 9-5 SU and 6-8 ATS this year without Lowry in uniform.
Vincent is pivotal here. The third-year guard has developed quite nicely with his increased workload; Vincent’s numbers were up across the board in February, and his 20 points versus Chicago came on a very efficient 7-for-13 shooting, including 4-of-8 from downtown. Bet accordingly.
NBA Pick: Heat +5.5 (–110) with DraftKings