Bucks vs. Nuggets NBA Odds & Picks: Lots of Question Marks for Denver
Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Giannis Antetokounmpo
- The Bucks are a short favorite over the Nuggets on Monday night.
- Denver has struggled on defense in a big way without Jamal Murray, while the Bucks offense has been humming so far in 2021.
- Get our full breakdown and pick for Bucks vs. Nuggets below.
Bucks vs. Nuggets Odds
|Time||9:30 p.m. ET|
The NBA takes center stage now following the Super Bowl and two of the league’s best face off on Monday night. Giannis Antetokounmpo against Nikola Jokic will lead two of the NBA’s best offenses against each other in what could be a high-scoring affair.
The Bucks rank second in the NBA in point differential and although their defense is still strong, they’ve been lead by an absolutely dominant offense that scored 120.6 points per 100 possessions.
The offense is clicking thanks to their second-best effective field goal percentage (58.1%). Milwaukee all but ignores midrange shots and focuses its attention at the rim and beyond the arc. This makes sense considering they have the highest shooting percentage in the league at the rim (68.9%) and the fourth-best from 3-point range (40.6%).
The Bucks will look to take advantage of their highly efficient shot selection in this matchup in Denver.
The Nuggets are limping into this matchup against the Bucks and have Jamal Murray and Facundo Campazzo listed as questionable. Keep an eye on their status using our Labs Insiders Tool. The Nuggets will also be without Gary Harris and PJ Dozier for this matchup.
These injuries are relevant because when Murray missed Saturday’s game, Monte Morris and Michael Porter Jr. entered the starting lineup and they both played over 35 minutes. Porter Jr. has shocking on/off splits. He’s been -2.5 points per 100 possessions on offense and an abysmal +8.2 points per 100 on defense. He’s an absolute sieve defensively and if he is forced into the starting lineup, he will be hunted on pick and roll opportunities.
The Nuggets need Murray in this game — he’s a plus on both sides of the ball and he takes some of the offensive load off of Jokic. If he misses it, the Nuggets defense, which has been struggling of late, will be in an even tougher position.
Over the past two weeks, the Nuggets are giving up 3 more points per 100 possessions on defense and they are just 3-3 over that stretch.
So far this season, the Nuggets are just 2-5 ATS as an underdog, while the Bucks are 12-11 as a favorite, including 5-3 ATS when their opponent is over .500, per Bet Labs.
The Bucks should be able to take advantage of the Nuggets’ struggling defense, especially if Murray does not play. The Nuggets’ defense is 21st in the NBA in points per 100 possessions.
On the flip side, the Nuggets can target the Bucks’ defensive scheme if Mike Malone makes one key adjustment. The Bucks have not played quite as much drop coverage this season, but they have given up 3-point shots at the sixth-highest rate in the league by selling out to protect the rim. This is one advantage the Nuggets have because Jokic has the best vision of any big man in the NBA, and is one of the best in the game in general.
If Malone draws up enough plays where Jokic can pass out of the post to the perimeter, then the Nuggets can take advantage of their fifth-best 3-point percentage (38.5%) against the Bucks’ fifth-worst 3-point percentage allowed.
I lean the over in this matchup, but considering Denver’s injuries to Harris and Dozier while potentially being without Murray and Campazzo, I expect the Bucks to cover this 3.5 point spread.
Pick: Bucks -3.5