Five Things Bettors Should Know for 76ers-Bucks
A wild weekend of basketball is coming to a close. Unfortunately, Sunday’s slate of pro and college ball doesn’t have the quantity (or quality, if we’re being honest) of Saturday’s. One NBA game in particular has our stamp of approval, however, as the red-hot 76ers head to Milwaukee to take on the ice cold Bucks.
With eight wins over their past 10 games, the Sixers sit within striking distance of the No. 3 seed in the East. The Bucks sit just a few games back of Cleveland as well, but they’ve been trending in the wrong direction.
This game is clearly important for both teams, but it’s important for bettors and DFS players, too. Here are the five things you need to know about betting 76ers (-1.5) at Bucks (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). – Mark Gallant
1. There Are Important Playoff Implications
Mark hit on them above, but let’s really dive in. The 76ers sit 1.5 games up from the Bucks in the sixth seed, although they’re trending in opposite directions. Philly has won nine of its last 11, whereas Milwaukee has dropped four straight. The Bucks aren’t in huge danger of falling out of the playoff race, as the Pistons and Hornets currently sit four games out of the No. 8 seed, but they could drop to the final seed; they have just a half-game advantage over the Heat, who have a cake matchup tomorrow at home vs. the Suns. FiveThirtyEight is quite bullish on the 76ers’ run to end the season, projecting them to get up to 48 wins and the No. 3 seed. They’re projecting the Bucks to finish in a tie for the eighth, which could match them up against what looks like a juggernaut Raptors squad they lost to last season. In short, these teams should be motivated today. — Bryan Mears
2. The Bucks’ Lack of a Rim Protector Is Problematic
Since Jan. 22, the day the Bucks fired Jason Kidd, the Bucks and 76ers have both ranked in the top-six in defensive efficiency, allowing just 102.7 and 103.3 points per 100 possessions, respectively. The Bucks’ turnaround in that regard is an incredible story, although they still have one major weakness that could be exploited by the Sixers: They don’t have a rim protector and still allow a ton of shots at the rim. On the season they rank dead last in the league in frequency of opponent shots at that location, and it’s been especially bad during the past five games, during which they’ve dropped four of those. The 76ers, meanwhile, are playing some of their best basketball currently and rank top-five in field goal percentage at the rim. The Bucks’ weakest position by far is at center, and the Sixers have perhaps the best one in the world. — Bryan Mears
3. Embiid Is the Bucks’ Kryptonite, Part 2
Since drafting Joel Embiid third overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Sixers have relied on Embiid when facing the Bucks. Philadelphia is just 3-10 SU and 5-8 ATS against Milwaukee since that day, although Embiid has been absent for a big chunk of those games. With Embiid playing, the Sixers are 2-0 SU and ATS against the Bucks; without him, Philly is 1-10 SU and 3-8 ATS. Embiid is averaging 25.5 PPG, 11.0 RPG and 3.5 BPG in two games against the Bucks…so, yeah, let’s do this! — Evan Abrams
4. Giannis’ Minutes = DFS Gold
Giannis Antetokounmpo is playing all the minutes he can handle right now, seeing at least 39 in five of his past six games. Despite that, his salary has still decreased by $1,000 over the past month on DraftKings, and his current $10,000 price tag gives him a Bargain Rating of 98 percent. That could spell good things for him today: Comparably-priced players with similar salary decreases and Bargain Ratings have historically exceeded salary-based expectations by an average of 6.13 points. This is also an extreme pace-up spot for Giannis, with the 76ers averaging nearly four more possessions per game than the Bucks. — Matt LaMarca
5. Underdogs in Competitive Matchups
Late in the regular season (March-April), when two solid teams (win percentage between 50-55%) meet, the underdog has gone 66-46-3 (59%) ATS since 2005. That would favor Milwaukee. — John Ewing
Top photo credit Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports