Magic vs. Bucks Odds & Pick: Bet Milwaukee to Bounce Back In Game 2
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Magic vs. Bucks Game 2 Odds
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|Magic Odds||+12.5 [BET NOW]|
|Bucks Odds||-12.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+650/-910 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||228 [BET NOW]|
|Time||6 p.m. ET|
Well, Game 1 of this series was certainly unexpected. Not only did the Bucks lose, but they lost in a pretty convincing fashion. They trailed for approximately 44.5 minutes and ultimately lost by 22 points.
The Bucks were massive 12-point favorites in that contest, and Milwaukee was listed around -150 to sweep this series across most sportsbooks. The fact that they lost any game in this series – let alone Game 1 – is surprising.
Despite that loss, sportsbooks are still showing the Bucks plenty of respect for Game 2. Milwaukee is favored by 12.5 at DraftKings, and the total sits at 228 points.
So was Game 1 an aberration or a sign of things to come for Milwaukee? Let’s break it down.
For the first time all season, people are starting to question the Bucks defense. Milwaukee ranks first in the league in defensive efficiency and feature a deserving Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks have allowed just 99.0 points per 100 possessions with Giannis on the court this season.
So, why the cause for concern? It has to do with the way they play defense.
The Bucks have encouraged teams to shoot the 3-pointer against them, which is counterintuitive to the way the modern game is played. More specifically, Milwaukee dares teams to shoot non-corner 3s, with 30.7% of opponent shots coming from those locations (per Cleaning the Glass). That is the highest rate in basketball.
This allows Milwaukee to pack the paint and defend the rim. The Bucks allowed the lowest percentage of shots at the rim and also limited opponents the lowest FG% on those shots.
That defensive strategy may be unconventional, but it was also highly effective during the regular season. They allowed the lowest opponent effective FG% (eFG%) at just 49.4% and the third-lowest expected eFG%.
However, things have changed in the bubble. There has been some speculation that the lack of fans makes it easier for opponents to shoot the ball from behind the arc. Another theory is that the court in Orlando has a very friendly backdrop for shooting. Maybe it’s some combination of both.
Regardless, the numbers back up the claim that teams are indeed shooting better in the bubble. The league average for 3-point shooting this season is 35.8%, but teams have shot 36.9% in the bubble. That may not sound like a huge spike, but it is significant.
Milwaukee has dropped to ninth in effective FG% and 11th in expected opponent FG% during its eight seeding games. Orlando shot 39.0% from behind the arc in Game 1, and the Magic was one of the worst shooting teams in basketball this season.
It’s still too early to panic, but there might be something here.
The Magic’s 3-point shooting was not the only thing that Orlando had going for it in Game 1. Nikola Vucevic was an absolute beast, scoring 35 points with 14 rebounds over 36.5 minutes. He shot 62.5% from the field, and he feasted on whoever the Bucks threw at him. Brook Lopez was his primary defender for the majority of the contest, and Vucevic went 7-for-12 from the field against him.
The Magic also did a tremendous job defensively against Milwaukee in Game 1. Orlando limited the Bucks to an offensive efficiency of just 103.3 points per 100 possessions. And if Aaron Gordon is able to suit up for Game 2, that would be another huge boost for Orlando on both sides of the ball.
Gordon is still listed as questionable after missing Game 1 with a hamstring injury. But whenever he returns, he would likely draw a defensive matchup against Antetokounmpo. No one can really stop Giannis completely, but Gordon has limited him to just 8-of-21 shooting when operating as his primary defender.
Gordon’s status notwithstanding, Orlando’s biggest quandary entering Game 2 is how to split point guard minutes between Markelle Fultz and D.J. Augustin. It didn’t matter in Game 1, since both players were solid. Fultz contributed 15 points and six assists over 29.4 minutes, while Augustin chipped in 11 points and 11 assists off the bench.
Nonetheless, it may be beneficial for the Magic in the long run to lean a little heavier on Augustin. In order to exploit the Bucks’ systematic weakness defensively, Orlando needs to excel shooting from deep. Augustin is clearly the better 3-point shooter between Orlando’s two point guards, boasting a 37.9% 3-point percentage compared to 26.7% for Fultz. Augustin didn’t shoot the ball well in Game 1, but the Magic still posted a better Net Rating with him on the court than with Fultz.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I think this is an awesome bounce-back spot to target the Bucks.
Maybe their defense just isn’t as good in the bubble, but it’s much more likely that it was a fluky performance from the Magic.
Regardless of what happens defensively, the Bucks should definitely improve on the offensive end of the court. Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, and Brook Lopez combined to shoot 34.4% from the field and 20.0% from 3-point range in Game 1. That puts that trio well below their season average in terms of scoring and efficiency.
The Bucks also got crushed in the free throw battle in their last game, which should normalize moving forward. Milwaukee went 18-for-28 from the line (64.3%) while Orlando was 18-for-19 (94.7%).
Additionally, the Bucks qualify for a solid betting trend in Game 2. No. 1 seeds have historically posted a mark of 31-23-1 against the spread when coming off a loss in the first round. That’s good for a 57.4% cover rate. Big favorites like Milwaukee have also found success using this trend: Teams favored by at least 10 points have gone 9-5 ATS.
I’m expecting the Bucks to remind everyone why they are one of the title favorites in this contest.
The Pick: Bucks -12.5 (play up to -13.5)