Pelicans vs. Bucks NBA Preview

D.J. Augustin #12 of the Milwaukee Bucks handles the ball.  Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP
D.J. Augustin #12 of the Milwaukee Bucks handles the ball. Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP


The Milwaukee Bucks are on a winning streak, but are they good enough to beat the New Orleans Pelicans and the NBA odds this Thursday?

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Milwaukee Bucks

at Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee


The vultures were circling for Mike Budenholzer. The head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks is not the most popular person in the Cream City – certainly not after the Bucks lost back-to-back games at home to the Toronto Raptors, bringing up painful memories of their crushing defeat in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals. But then a funny thing happened: The Bucks won their next three games. Granted, it was against three double-digit road dogs, but Milwaukee covered all three to improve to 19-13 SU and 16-16 ATS. Budenholzer’s job appears safe for now.

Stan Van Gundy has even more job security with the New Orleans Pelicans (14-17 SU, 13-18 ATS). This is Year One for Van Gundy’s rebuilding project in the Big Easy, and while there’s plenty of work to be done, he’s got one of the most promising young lineups in the Association. The Pelicans look like the right choice for Thursday’s matchup with Milwaukee after opening as 9-point road dogs on the NBA odds board at bet365. But there may be a better choice for your hard-earned money.

Holiday in Wisconsin

That choice would be the Over. This has been a winning NBA pick for both of Thursday’s combatants, checking in at 19-12-1 for the Bucks and a league-leading 23-8 for the Pels. The Over was also a winner in each of Milwaukee’s last two games, and six of nine since point guard Jrue Holiday (plus-1.1 VORP) went on the COVID-19 list. As much as they miss Holiday’s offense, the Bucks are giving up even more points at the other end of the court, with many of Holiday’s minutes going to Bryn Forbes (0.0 VORP), arguably the worst defender in their regular rotation.

The Over has obviously done quite well for the Pelicans, too. They’re mediocre at both ends of the hardwood, but they’re tied with the Houston Rockets for the second-fastest pace in the NBA at 106.3 possessions per game – right behind the No. 1 Bucks at 107.2 possessions. The Pels also have the Over on a sizzling 10-game winning streak, which coincides with their decision to de-emphasize shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (minus-0.1 VORP) and give the keys back to point guard Lonzo Ball (plus-0.5 VORP), who has played his best basketball of the year over the past three weeks.

At press time, there’s a giant 240-point total on the NBA lines at PointsBet, so it won’t be easy for Milwaukee and New Orleans to surpass that number – but they do have the right stuff to make it happen. The Over is 7-1 in the last eight meetings between these two teams, and 4-0 in their last four games at Fiserv Forum, so with the Pelicans playing on zero days of rest after beating the Detroit Pistons 128-118 (Over 221.5) as 11.5-point home faves Wednesday night, this could be a good spot to avoid taking New Orleans ATS and stick with the Over instead.

NBA pick: Over 240 (–115) at PointsBet

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