Bucks vs. Lakers Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions: Is Milwaukee Being Undervalued?
Photo credit: Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo
- The updated odds of Friday's Milwaukee Bucks vs. Los Angeles Lakers game make the Lakers 1.5-point favorites with the over under set at 227.
- The Bucks took Round 1 of this matchup earlier in the season, can the Lakers return the favor at home?
- Check out our betting preview, including our experts' picks on the game below.
No. 1 in the East vs. No. 1 in the West. The reigning MVP who is No. 1 in odds to repeat this year vs. the No. 2 in odds, who is a four-time winner of the award.
Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. LeBron James. What more do you need on a Friday night?
The Lakers are favored at home, but is that right? Our experts break down everything you need to know for tonight’s marquee matchup.
Bucks at Lakers Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions
- Spread: Lakers -1.5
- Over/Under: 228.5
- Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: ESPN
Betting Trends to Know
Lakers-Bucks is a matchup of the two best teams in the league. The Lakers (47-13) are 1.5-point favorites against the Bucks (53-9). When two great teams (win rate of 70% or higher) play in the regular season, the favorite has gone 220-250-9 (46.8%) ATS.
But late in the season (March/April), when we know the most about each squad, the chalk in these matchups have gone 30-18 (63%) ATS.
That said, in the past two seasons, since Giannis ascended to MVP-level play, the Bucks are 10-7 straight-up and 11-6 ATS as underdogs. — John Ewing
Moore: How Oddsmakers Treat the Lakers
Look, the Bucks are underdogs. I don’t know how you don’t bet a projected 70-win team that has smashed everyone (including the team they’re facing earlier this season) as an underdog. I can’t make the argument for you that the Lakers should win. The Bucks have the length to counter L.A., they shoot more 3s so they can win the math game, they have perimeter guys to actually maybe guard LeBron a little bit and they have guys to contest on Anthony Davis and make him play on the perimeter.
From a 10,000-foot view, this is a no-brainer; you bet the Bucks.
Mike Budenholzer teams roll through the All-Star break… and then they slow down a little bit before the playoffs. You read above about the March/April trends. But here’s another: Budenholzer teams overall are 41-54-2 (43%) in March, by far the worst month of his career.
Now, he’s 11-7-1 ATS with the Bucks after last year and the first few days this year. But it’s enough to give me some pause, as the Bucks are playing for so little at this point. The Lakers are also getting them at a slight nadir. The Bucks scored under 100 in consecutive games vs. the Hornets and Heat Sunday and Monday. They aren’t playing their best, because they don’t have to.
Against teams with a win percentage over 60%, the Bucks are 9-9 ATS on the road under Budenholzer the past two seasons. Beating good teams is difficult. They’re just not usually dogs.
Let’s also consider the Lakers effect here, though. The Lakers are the biggest recipients of line bumps in the league. Consider this: According to Bet Labs, among games this season with at least 60% of the spread tickets on one team and at least 8,000 tickets in our system on that team, the Bucks have been bet eight such times. The Lakers have been bet 18 times.
The Lakers have fewer instances this season of the line moving at least one point in their direction than the Clippers, Bucks and Celtics because the books are already building that public push into any line.
So despite the Bucks being dogs here, most of that is because of who they’re playing. If they were playing a team just as good as the Lakers, on the road, but that team did not have the Lakers’ popularity, this number looks different.
All of this is leading me to a stay-away. If you want a lean, I can’t tell you it’s not the Bucks. But for as often as I have bet Milwaukee this year, this is as dangerous a spot as I’ve seen.
I do like the under, however. On top of the Bucks’ recent struggles, against teams with a win percentage over 60% this season they’re averaging only 110 points per game. They’re giving up around the same, but that number still comes in well under the 228 mark for today. In games vs. teams over a 60% win percentage, the Lakers score 111 and give up 111.
Sometimes when two high-powered teams meet, it turns into a track meet, and that’s in play. But given the length each team has and how that presents issues for what the other wants to do, I will tentatively take the under.
The PICK: Bucks +105 ML, under 228.5
Anderson: Note the Lakers’ Record vs. Top Teams
We’re about to learn a whole lot about the Lakers this weekend.
Los Angeles has been better than anyone would have reasonably expected, coasting to a 47-13 record that’s perched comfortably atop the Western Conference standings all season long. At first glance, it looks like the Clippers and Nuggets could really make a race of the 1-seed with 43 and 42 wins, but that obscures the fact that the Lakers have six and seven fewer losses than those teams. The road to the Western crown runs through LeBron and Los Angeles.
But just how difficult will that road be? That’s a question we still don’t have a clear answer on. And the hints we do have are not as great as you’d hope.
Six NBA teams have more than 40 wins right now. The Lakers are just 3-6 against those teams right now. And if you take the Nuggets out of the mix, they’re just 1-5 against the Clippers, Bucks, Raptors and Celtics… you know, the teams everyone assumes are leading the title race. The lone win was a home game against Boston a couple weeks ago, and Jayson Tatum darn near stole that one, too.
Now, look. No one is expecting the Lakers to go 9-0 in those games. It’s hard to beat great teams. But 1-5 is, uh, not good, and the Lakers have looked outmatched in some of those games. LeBron James has looked a half-step slow at times, and the team hasn’t shown much agility to adjust to Plan B or C when the first plan isn’t working. That doesn’t mean they can’t! But we need to see it.
The Bucks? They’re 5-2 against that same set of teams, plus 48-7 against everyone else, with a historically great defense (at least in the modern era) and the league’s real MVP. Honestly, this feels crazy to say about a team with LeBron and Anthony Davis, but will the Lakers have enough offense? Milwaukee’s entire defense is built around protecting the paint and forcing teams to beat them with 3s.
Do the Lakers strike you as a team that’s going to beat you with a barrage of 3?
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe LeBron punks Giannis tonight, beats the Clippers on Sunday and suddenly we’re having MVP conversations and everything is up for grabs over the final month. I’ll never put it past Bron.
The rest of the rosters though? Milwaukee all day.
And you’re giving me odds?? Yes, please.
The PICK: Bucks +105 ML
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.