Bucks vs. Jazz Odds & Picks: Fade Milwaukee as Road Underdog (Friday, Feb. 12)
Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Donovan Mitchell.
- The Milwaukee Bucks are underdogs for this first time this season when they visit the Utah Jazz on Friday night.
- The Jazz will be without Mike Conley, but the Bucks won't have Jrue Holiday for this matchup.
- Joe Dellera previews Friday's game and shares his betting pick below.
Bucks vs. Jazz Odds
|Moneyline||-105 / -114|
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds as of Thursday night and via DraftKings.|
Friday night’s premier game pits the Bucks against the Jazz in a matchup between the league’s top two teams in terms of Net Rating. Both the Jazz and the Bucks have leaned heavily on their elite offenses and they’ve been the class of the NBA so far this season.
Let’s break down this matchup between two teams with championship aspirations.
The Bucks lost a heartbreaker to the Suns on Thursday night and look to right the ship against the Jazz. However, they will have to do so without star point guard Jrue Holiday, who has missed the past few games after testing positive for COVID-19.
In his absence, Khris Middleton has been the primary beneficiary of the extra usage, as he’s dished out double-digit assists the past two games without Holiday — a step up from his 6.2 APG season average.
Holiday’s absence is important for this matchup. Although his advanced stats show that he’s been a bit of a negative offensively, he’s opened up the Bucks’ offensive options since he can create his own shots and he’s an excellent facilitator.
On the defensive side of the ball, he’s been one of their best defenders. He’s a -5.9 on defense, and he defends the 3-point line well, which is critical for this Bucks team who gives up 3s at the seventh-highest frequency in the league and allows a 39.8% shooting percentage from beyond the arc (fourth-worst), per Cleaning the Glass. This mark is even worse against top-10 offenses — the Bucks surrender 43.9% from deep against those teams.
The Jazz will be without Mike Conley (hamstring) for this matchup against the Bucks. When Conley has been off the court, Mitchell’s assist rate increases by a team-high 5.5%, per our Labs Insiders data.
The Jazz have the best record in the league, and it’s in large part due to a balanced attack on both sides of the ball. They have the fourth-best Offensive Rating and the third-best Defensive Rating. The Jazz take and make the most 3-point shots in the league per game and aside from Rudy Gobert, every player that averages over 25 minutes shoots at least 37% from long range. This is a significant edge that allows them to space the floor and have effective and efficient ball movement.
On defense, the Jazz lead the league in allowed eFG%, as opponents shoot just 50.0% eFG% against them. They do this by closing out rapidly on 3-point shots, protecting the rim with Gobert and allowing opponents to take the inefficient mid-range shot on 35.9% of their possessions, second-highest in the league.
This game will come down to 3-point shooting. Last season (especially against the Miami Heat) and even this season, we have seen the Bucks continue to play drop coverage rather than close out on 3-point shooting teams and it’s burned them.
Additionally, the Bucks are not the same defensive juggernaut that they had been in previous seasons, and this season they have given up 111.3 points per 100 possessions on defense. While this is still a top-10 ranking at the time of this writing, it is not the defensive excellence we have seen in prior seasons.
The Jazz will miss Conley, but his absence is offset by the Bucks’ loss of Holiday. I think the Jazz are the play here. The Bucks have yet to be listed as an underdog this season, but last season they were just 2-4 ATS as an underdog as they failed to cover by an average margin of 1.67 points, per Bet Labs.
This line opened at Bucks +2 and it’s moved to +1. I think you can try to wait and find a bit more value on the Jazz, but I’ll take their moneyline regardless.
Pick: Jazz ML