Bucks vs. Pacers NBA Odds & Picks: Target the Total In Game of Two Eastern Conference Playoff Teams (May 13)
Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jrue Holiday and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
- Two teams with differing playoff positions face off on Thursday when the Pacers host the Bucks.
- While the Pacers position themselves for the play-in tournament, the Bucks could still clinch home-court in the first two rounds.
- Brandon Anderson breaks down where the betting value lies in Indiana.
Bucks vs. Pacers Odds
|Moneyline||-400 / +310|
|Time||Thursday, 7 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday morning and via DraftKings.|
Thursday night brings us a key battle of Midwestern postseason teams, as the Indiana Pacers battle the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks won the first two matchups this season, both at home, by 20 and 27 points. They’ll go for the season sweep here.
Both teams are still motivated to win and improve their playoff positioning. The Bucks still have some incentive to push for the 2-seed against Brooklyn, both for a better first-round matchup and to get home court if they do play the Nets eventually.
The Pacers are locked into the play-in tournament now, but they have every incentive to keep winning and try to improve to the 8-seed, since that would mean two chances to win one game rather than needing to win twice to get into the playoffs.
Will the Bucks complete the season sweep, or can the Pacers pull off the upset?
Milwaukee enters this one at 44-25 on the season, and most of the underlying metrics paint the Bucks as a team that are likely better than their record. The Bucks have been good on offense and defense, but the offense has outpaced the defense for the entire season.
Milwaukee leads the league at 119.9 points per game, thanks in part to the Bucks ranking third in pace and in part to season-long torrid shooting by the Bucks. Milwaukee ranks second in the NBA in 3-point percentage and seventh in 2-point percentage, and the Bucks rank top five in 3-point attempts. They also hit the offensive glass hard and rarely turn it over. It’s the portrait of an efficient modern offense really, with the only shortcoming being a lack of free throw attempts.
The Bucks don’t draw many fouls, but they also lead the league in fewest fouls on defense, and they’re one of the elite defensive rebounding teams. Those are both Coach Budenholzer trademarks and give Milwaukee an advantage over most teams.
The rebounding edge will be very significant in this one, since Indiana has been so weak on the glass all year. The Bucks won the battle on the boards by 22 rebounds combined in the first two matchups, and they were +15 in late March when Myles Turner was out, like he is again here.
These are not the Bucks from the past few seasons. They play fast and score a ton of points now, and you better believe they’ll put up points in this one.
The Pacers are 33-36. They’ve righted the ship a bit lately with three wins in the last four games, but they had lost seven of 11 before that. Indiana is down three starters right now.
T.J. Warren never played this season, Myles Turner has been missing awhile now, and Malcolm Brogdon has been confirmed out again too. The Pacers will also be without reserve guards Jeremy Lamb, Edmond Sumner and maybe Aaron Holiday. Indiana is dragging itself to the finish line right now.
The most important name missing from that set is probably Myles Turner. The Pacers are 11-11 straight up and 11-10-1 against the spread without Turner per Killer Sports, but the real difference comes in the game total and pace of play.
Without Turner, Indiana’s defense has cratered. In 22 games without Turner this season, the games have gone over 16 times, hitting the over 72.7% of the time. The 22 games have closed at a total averaging 223.8 but ended up actually averaging 239.2 points. In other words, games without Turner are finishing more than 15 points higher than the total. That is a gigantic difference. Indiana averages 120.3 points allowed without Turner.
One player who has stepped up huge down the stretch for Indiana is Domantas Sabonis. Sabonis is absolutely mashing right now. Since returning from a couple weeks of injury, Sabonis has recorded three triple-doubles in seven games. He’s averaging 24.6 points, 15.0 rebounds and 11.0 assists per game during that stretch. Sabonis is not making enough of a difference on defense, but in a high-scoring game, he should be a triple-double threat again and may make for a good over bet.
Sabonis will need to have another monster line for Indiana to have a chance here. And even that might not be enough.
Indiana has not matched up well with Milwaukee this season. The Pacers have been dominated by the Bucks twice already, and though Indiana has never really been healthy all year, the Pacers were healthier in both previous matchups. Even still, the Bucks dropped 130 and 140 on this defense, and Myles Turner played in one of those games.
I don’t love the points here, since the Bucks would have to win by nearly double-digits and may not need to dig in their heels that hard in a game the Pacers probably need a little bit more.
Instead, I’m sticking with the Myles Turner trend and looking to play an over in what should be a high-scoring affair. The question is whether I want to play a Bucks team over or the game total. I trust Indiana to score the way Sabonis is playing right now, so I’ll just play the Turner trend and go over the total of 240.5. I’ll play to 242.
Pick: Over 240.5