Bucks vs. Warriors Odds, Pick, Prediction: Points at a Premium in Potential Finals Preview (March 12)
Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Steph Curry
- The Bucks travel to California for a matchup with the Warriors on Saturday night.
- A potential NBA Finals preview is star-studded and the line is tight, but the value here is on the total.
- Matt Moore previews the matchup and gives his betting prediction below.
Bucks vs. Warriors Odds
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The Warriors may have righted their ship with a win over the Nuggets and with Draymond Green on the way next week. The Bucks continue their slow climb up the East standings.
In a potential NBA Finals preview, who has the edge and where should your money go?
Bucks’ Offense Rolling Since Break
Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton and George Hill are out.
The matchup here is fascinating. Milwaukee is the No. 1 offense since the All-Star Break. The Bucks’ combination of athleticism and shooting (2nd in eFG% since All-Star break, sixth overall for the season) presents a lot of challenges for Golden State.
However, the Warriors run a switch-heavy scheme in pick and roll and have good defenders of their own. The Bucks are just 22nd offensively vs. switching defenses. They should be able to slow down Milwaukee.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to get his. That’s what Giannis does. But having Otto Porter, Gary Payton II, Klay Thompson and Jonathan Kuminga is a pretty good set of defenders to throw at him in isolation. Unfortunately for the Dubs, Porter will miss this game due to illness. The Warriors have the ninth-best transition defense per possession, via Synergy Sports, which should allow them to at least tick off a few percentages of a point per possession from the unending onslaught of the MVP candidate.
Defensively, the Bucks are just 19th in defense per Cleaning The Glass since All-Star break.
The Warriors have struggled offensively. The Bucks do have Jrue Holiday to chase Steph Curry around screens and Khris Middleton can match up with Thompson in his current state just fine.
The bench may honestly be a big advantage for the Warriors. Jordan Poole has turned a corner in recent weeks and Milwaukee is shorthanded, especially since trading Rodney Hood and Donte DiVincenzo. The Warriors like to stagger Curry with the second unit as well, but the Bucks stagger Holiday in a similar rotation.
Milwaukee still has an advantage in points in the paint on both sides of the ball and in second-chance points even without Brook Lopez and even in this recent dip since All-Star.
All elements point to this being a challenge but Milwaukee having the advantage.
Warriors Missing Key Defenders
Beyond Green, the Warriors are also without Porter and Payton, two essential defenders for the Giannis matchup. Let’s throw Andre Iguodala into that mix as well, as he’ll also miss the game.
This honestly turns the cap considerably. The Warriors, fully healthy, have the ability to challenge Giannis with big, athletic defenders. Without three of them, Giannis may have a monster day.
Giannis creates so much gravity, and when you have to send more and more help at him it opens things up. Middleton vs. Thompson is a good matchup that leans toward the Bucks in Thompson’s current state, and Holiday will be able to get where he wants with Curry chasing, though the Warriors’ switch helps curtail much of that.
The Bucks are fourth in fast-break points allowed per 100 possessions since the All-Star break, allowing just 9.9, while the Warriors are second-best at creating them in that span at 17.7.
If the Bucks can get stops, that will help shut off the Warriors’ transition attack and Golden State has honestly not been good enough in halfcourt as of late (18th since All-Star and not all that hot for the full season either).
I have this game with the Warriors favored based on full-season numbers, but Green is worth three points to the spread, at least, and the other Warriors injuries probably add another point of value based on the cluster in this matchup.
I think there’s small value on the Bucks based on their various edges.
My stronger play is on the under, however. The Warriors’ defense hasn’t been great lately but showed what it could do vs. an admittedly tired Nuggets offense Thursday.
The Bucks should be able to slow down the Warriors’ transition attack, and even with the pace of these two teams and the 3-point shooting both can present, the switching defense of Golden State and the Bucks’ interior size advantage makes me think the under is a play.
Pick: Under 237.5