Bucks vs Knicks Prediction, Picks | NBA Christmas Day Best Bet

Bucks vs Knicks Prediction, Picks | NBA Christmas Day Best Bet article feature image
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Cyriel Klitsie/Action Network. Pictured: Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson of the Knicks; Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks.

Bucks vs Knicks Prediction, Picks for Christmas

Monday, Dec. 25
12 p.m. ET
ESPN
Knicks +3.5

Here's everything you need to know about Bucks vs. Knicks on Christmas Day — our expert Bucks vs Knicks prediction and betting picks for our NBA Christmas Day best bet.

The Milwaukee Bucks own the New York Knicks. After Saturday's commanding 130-111 victory, the Bucks have now won all six of their games played against the Knicks dating back to the start of last season. After a close loss in Milwaukee early in the season, it has only gotten more arduous for the Knicks in this matchup.

Can the Knicks find their form on Christmas Day and start the holiday off with a massive upset at home, or will the Bucks extend their winning streak in this series?

Let's get to our Bucks vs. Knicks prediction and pick below.

Pick: Knicks +3.5


Bucks vs. Knicks Prediction

Pick: Knicks +3.5

Bucks Offense Humming

The Milwaukee Bucks look the part of an NBA champion at the moment. They've won seven in a row as they are now 22-7 on the season, and this offense has been dominant.

The Bucks enter play on Sunday with the 10th-best 3-point attack in the NBA while also ranking third in scoring at the rim, per Cleaning the Glass. They also have been somewhat efficient in transition, ranking 15th, despite generating transition opportunities less than almost every team in the NBA.

Whether it's scoring at the rim with Giannis Antetokounmpo or lighting it up from deep, this team has no issues scoring as it ranks fourth in Offensive Rating.

However, Milwaukee's defense is its weakness as it has allowed a pedestrian 114.9 points per 100 possessions this season, ranking 16th in the NBA. It has been particularly poor at the rim where it has allowed 65.3% shooting and also been firmly in the bottom third of the league against midrange jumpshots.

Still, the mediocre Bucks defense hasn't cost them many victories given their elite offense. They have had a particularly fun time playing against the Knicks this season as they have converted at least 50% of their 3s in all three meetings with New York. Shooting luck has turned in the Bucks' favor this year after they shot below the league average from deep in all three games against the Knicks last year.

Adding Damian Lillard and nursing Khris Middleton to full strength have been the keys to the offensive explosion so far this season.


Knicks Need Shooting Regression

Not only have the Knicks been quite generous in allowing 3-pointers against the Bucks this season, but they've also struggled mightily to score from outside. The Knicks, who have taken 35.4% of their shots from 3 this season and rank ninth in shooting accuracy from deep, according to Cleaning the Glass, are just 26-for-91 (28.6%) on 3-pointers against the Bucks this season.

However, the Knicks will host this game at Madison Square Garden, where they've shot a blistering 39.5% from 3 compared to 36.8% on the road. They've also remained healthy on the wings and in the backcourt, with Mitchell Robinson's season-ending injury doing nothing to impact the shooting numbers.

Robinson's unfortunate loss hasn't impacted the team quite as much as many feared it would. The Knicks have won three of their last five games and have remained steady defending the rim with the talented Isaiah Hartenstein taking over as the primary center.

The Knicks have also grabbed more than 50% of available rebounds over the last five games which, while not quite as dominant as their season-long numbers, is still very becoming of a team ranked second in rebounding.

The Knicks, however, don't really match up all that well against a Bucks team which loves to score inside and shoot the 3-ball. These are two glaring weaknesses for the Knicks, who rank 24th in defense at the rim and 19th beyond the arc, according to Cleaning the Glass. Despite the size downgrade from Robinson to Hartenstein, this interior defense may improve over the coming weeks as he adjusts to the more prominent role.


Bucks vs. Knicks Picks, Odds

Monday, Dec 25
12:00pm ET
ESPN
Bucks Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
-3.5
-108
242.5
-112o / -108u
-158
Knicks Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
+3.5
-112
242.5
-112o / -108u
+134
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Bucks have managed to shoot better from 3-point range on the road this season, knocking down 39.5% of looks from outside in these games compared to 37.6% in Milwaukee. Despite shooting better on the road, they've been slightly less efficient on offense away from home and have been nearly three points worse per 100 possessions on defense.

On top of that, the Bucks have shot 50% or better from 3 in each of the three games they've played against the Knicks, which is very unsustainable. Even in a favorable matchup, Milwaukee's chances of shooting 50% or better again from outside is incredibly low.

Similarly, the Knicks have been far too productive with their outside shooting this season, particularly at home, not to eventually see some positive regression to the mean in this matchup against a team which has had a middling defense all season long.

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I've also been somewhat encouraged by New York's interior defense since the Robinson injury, and at the very least the Knicks did limit Brook Lopez to just 1-of-7 shooting on Saturday afternoon.

New York's defense is in a better place than Milwaukee's, and I'm willing to bet on some regression in the shooting numbers for both teams on Christmas Day.

The Bucks are just 5-5 against the spread as favorites on the road this season, and the number here tells you everything you need to know. The Bucks have won six straight in this series and torched the Knicks from 3 all year long, yet they are only laying 3.5 points here. This is a number you play every time.

Pick: Knicks +3.5 or Better

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