Magic vs. Bucks Betting Odds & Picks: Bet on Milwaukee to Cover Big Spread
Ashley Landis – Pool/Getty Images. Pictured: Giannis Antetokounmpo.
- The Magic shocked the Bucks in Game 1, but Milwaukee bounced back in Game 2, covering the 13-point spread.
- That number is right where the spread sits again for Game 3 Saturday; it's moved slightly up from the opening number with Aaron Gordon ruled out for today's contest.
- Where's the value in this game? Are the Bucks a good bet to cover the big number again? We break it all down below.
Magic vs. Bucks Odds, Picks
|Magic Odds||+13 [BET NOW]|
|Bucks Odds||-13 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-835/+600 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||222.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||1:00 p.m. ET|
After dropping Game 1 of this series, the Milwaukee Bucks were able to win Game 2 by a comfortable margin. They beat the Magic 111-96, which was good enough to cover the 12.5-point spread.
That sets up a crucial Game 3. Whichever team wins will take a 2-1 series lead, and teams that hold a 2-1 lead have historically gone on to win the series at nearly an 80% clip.
That said, sportsbooks aren’t giving the Magic much of a chance in this contest. Orlando is listed as a 12-point underdog for Game 3, and the total sits at 226.0 points.
Will the Bucks take care of business again, or can the Magic keep this game competitive? Let’s break it down and try to identify some betting value.
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Everything that broke right for the Magic in Game 1 broke wrong for them in Game 2. The Magic’s offensive efficiency dropped from 114.5 to 94.2, and their effective FG% (eFG%) fell from 58.4% to 38.8%. Orlando also made nine fewer 3-pointers.
So, which version of the Orlando Magic should we expect to see in Game 3: The team that upset the title-contenders in Game 1, or the team that got rolled over in Game 2?
Unfortunately, I think it’s the latter.
Orlando has compiled a terrible shot profile during its first two games per Cleaning the Glass. The Magic have the lowest percentage of shots at the rim during the playoffs, and they’ve also averaged the second-fewest corner 3s. Those are the two most effective spots to score the ball outside of the free throw line, so the fact that the Magic aren’t shooting from either location is concerning.
Unsurprisingly, that means that Orlando has had to rely on scoring from two locations: the midrange and non-corner 3’s. The Magic lead all playoff teams in terms of “long” midrange shots — shots taken from outside the free throw line but inside the arc — which is not an efficient way to build an offense.
Add it all up, and Orlando has posted the second-worst expected eFG% during the playoffs.
This isn’t exactly all that surprising either. The Bucks were easily the best defensive team in the league during the regular season — particularly with Giannis Antetokounmpo on the court — while the Magic ranked 23rd in offensive efficiency. Orlando was never expected to find success in this matchup, so the Magic’s performance in Game 1 looks like a clear outlier.
Orlando’s lone beacon of hope would be Aaron Gordon returning to the rotation. Gordon is listed as questionable for Game 3 after missing each of the past six games with a hamstring injury. Orlando desperately needs Gordon to return in order to put up a fight in this contest.
The Magic’s eFG% improved by 3.1% with Gordon on the court this season. Gordon also served as one of the best defenders in the league against Antetokounmpo. He limited Giannis to 8-for-21 shooting while operating as his primary defender.
The Bucks definitely played better in Game 2, but they still haven’t really looked like themselves in the bubble. Milwaukee ranks 11th in Net Rating during its eight seeding games, and the Bucks rank 10th in Net Rating during the playoffs. That’s a far cry from the team that was first in Net Rating by a significant margin prior to the season suspension.
That said, there’s no reason to expect those struggles to continue. The seeding games really didn’t mean anything to them, so it’s not surprising that they didn’t take them very seriously.
The Bucks’ shot profile during the playoffs also suggests that they should improve moving forward. They rank second in expected eFG% but just 10th in actual eFG%. The Bucks generating a ton of shots from good areas on the court; they just haven’t been making them. Milwaukee has posted the second-lowest FG% on shots and the rim and sixth-lowest FG% from 3-point range.
The Bucks’ low field goal percentage does not reflect the team’s success during the regular season. Specifically, they have gone from making 67.7% of their shots at the rim during the regular season to just 54.8% through their first two playoff games. Orlando is not particularly great at defending the rim — ranking 21st in that department and playing without injured Jonathan Isaac — so there’s no reason to expect Milwaukee’s struggles to continue.
We know the Bucks are elite defensively, so they should be just fine if they can pick up their production on the offensive end of the court.
Betting Analysis & Pick
This point spread is definitely a bit intimidating, but I’m going to continue to bank on the long-term success of the Bucks. They are simply a much better team than the Magic, and they managed to cover in their last game despite another poor shooting game. If the Bucks see some positive regression in that department moving forward, they should be able to cover this number pretty comfortably.
Backing No. 1 seeds in the first round has also historically been a profitable endeavor. Top seeds have posted an against the spread (ATS) record of 85-74-3, which is good for a 53.5% cover rate.
Targeting No. 1 seeds as large favorites in this situation also appears to be fine, posting a record of 25-21-1 ATS when favored by at least 10 points.
If Gordon is out, I have no problem playing the Bucks up to -13 in this matchup. If he’s active, I wouldn’t play it any higher than -12.
The Pick: Bucks -12