Bucks vs. Rockets Odds & Pick: Why We’re Betting Milwaukee to Cover Sunday’s Spread
Getty Images. Pictured (L-R): Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, James Harden of the Houston Rockets.
- Sunday night offers a primetime NBA matchup between the Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets.
- Our basketball analyst Brandon Anderson previews the game, complete with odds and a pick.
- Find out why he's betting on the Bucks to cover this spread.
Bucks vs. Rockets Betting Odds
|Bucks odds||-3.5 [BET NOW]|
|Rockets odds||+3.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-165/+140 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||242.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
The Bucks and Rockets played in primetime on the first full day back Friday night, and each of them got the win. Milwaukee dominated early then held on late, while Houston needed a miracle comeback before pulling away in overtime. Now the Bucks and Rockets square off on national TV in the weekend finale.
The Bucks were the best team in the NBA all season, and many wondered if that would carry over into the bubble. If Friday is any indication, the Bucks are still the best team in the NBA.
Milwaukee roared out to a huge lead, Giannis Antetokounmpo looked like the MVP, the defense was locked in — this was Bucks basketball all the way. They’re healthy, they’re dominant and they’re clearly one of the favorites going forward.
The Bucks have the league’s No. 1 defense by a mile. You might think that means they are great at taking 3s away given the growing importance of that shot in the sport, but the opposite is true.
Milwaukee has allowed the most attempts and makes from behind the arc this season. That’s this team’s “MO” — they want to totally eliminate everything at the rim, with Antetokounmpo and the Lopez brothers cleaning up, and force teams to beat them elsewhere.
The Rockets, of course, are all offense — second-best in the league, in fact. And as you’d suspect, they lead the league in both 3-pointers made and attempted.
Expect a whole lot of 3s raining in this game. Houston will miss Eric Gordon, as he would be a third creator and no doubt hoist a ton of 3s, but he’s out injured.
The Rockets attempted the fewest 2s in the league, so you might think this whole 3>2 equation heavily favors Houston, but be careful. The key stat here might be 2-point percentage.
The Rockets don’t attempt many 2s, but they make them count when they do, hitting 55.5% of such shots, second-best in the league. The Bucks defense allows just 45.4% inside the arc, best in the NBA. Fans will focus on all the 3s, but those shots inside the arc might end up the difference.
Houston is also all-in on its small-ball experiment, in stark contrast to Milwaukee’s size. The Rockets hang on for dear life defensively, and that could be a problem against a basketball alien like Giannis, and it will almost certainly be a problem on the boards.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The truth is that this may simply come down to the Rockets’ 3-point percentage. Houston attempts 44.3 threes per game, but that number should be in the 50s or even 60s in this one.
Look for Russell Westbrook to be very limited in this game. Milwaukee is so good at the rim that it will be more than happy to let Russ take his chances there. That should let the Bucks tilt the defense heavily toward James Harden.
He had a monster first game back and looks refreshed and rested, but he will need to be the best player on the court for the Rockets to have a chance.
At some point, the Rockets are going to go cold on all those 3s. And when they do, Milwaukee could run in transition and put the game away quickly with a big run. The Bucks lead the league in pace, and long rebounds off missed 3s jumpstart transition opportunities even more. Of course, the Bucks lead the league in defensive rebounding, too.
So many 3s means there’s always variance and room for the Rockets to get hot. If they take 60 threes and make 40% of them, that’s 72 points already, before adding in 2s and all those Harden free throws. Of course, the Bucks are one of the best in the league at limiting freebies.
If you want to bet on variance, you should consider parlaying the Rockets’ moneyline with the over. The Bucks are going to score, so if the Rockets beat them, they’re just going to have to hang a big number.
I’m going the other way. This feels like a nightmare matchup for Houston, and I like the Bucks to put the game away with a few big runs when the Rockets go cold. I’m all over them at -3.5 and happy to bet up to -5 as needed.
The PICK: Bucks -3.5 (would bet up to -5)