The Milwaukee Bucks have rebounded nicely from an ugly performance in New York early this week by winning their last two games handily to go to 11-3 ATS in their last 14 games. Go with the Bucks at home vs. Memphis Saturday.
Two teams heading in opposite directions at the betting windows square off on the NBA odds Saturday night when the slumping Memphis Grizzlies (27-22 overall, 10-15 away) pay a visit to red-hot Milwaukee Bucks (24-27 overall, 12-11 home) at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI at 8:35 ET.
The Bucks have been very friendly to their supporters as of late, as they are on an 11-3 run against the spread while going 10-4 straight up in those games. This hot streak has thrust the Bucks in the playoff race, as while they are in third place in the Central Division and 17 games behind the top-seeded Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee is now up to ninth in the Eastern Conference, just 1½ games behind the New York Knicks for the eighth and final playoff spot.
We had our doubts about the Bucks when they traded for Monta Ellis earlier this month, as we have always felt that he is overrated and we were not sure if he could co-exist with Brandon Jennings in the backcourt. Indeed, all three ATS losses by the Bucks during their current hot streak came shortly after the acquisition as the stats of both players suffered for a while, culminating with an ugly 89-80 loss in a critical game vs. those Knicks Monday night.
However, instead of collapsing, the Bucks rebounding nicely beating the Atlanta Hawks 108-101 here at home the following night with Ellis pouring in 33 points and then thumping the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road 121-84 last night with Jennings scoring 28. We have all the respect in the world for Head Coach Scott Skiles and he appears to have found a way to make the potentially volatile Jennings/Ellis combination work for now.
The Grizzlies are heading in the opposite direction, as they are now 3-6 straight up and 2-7 ATS in their last nine games. That leaves them in third place, eight games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division, and while Memphis currently holds the sixth seed in the Western Conference, it is only 1½ games ahead of the ninth place Utah Jazz and thus that close to being out of the playoffs.
Now the Grizzlies did have a nice win over the Lakers in Los Angeles earlier this week, but that was the only win in Memphis’s last five road games including another loss last night to the Houston Rockets in the Lone Star State. Thus, look for Milwaukee to prevail at home tonight.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Milwaukee as a small -2 favorite for this contest at current odds of -113.
A quick glance at the scoring averages for the whole season for these teams suggest that this should be a tight game and those averages support this tiny line. However, this line does not seem to reflect the recent improvement of the Milwaukee offense, nor the apparent collapse of the Memphis defense.
Milwaukee was struggling offensively for much of the season, but it has now risen to seventh in the NBA in scoring at 98.5 points per game, thanks to averaging a whopping 108.0 points over their last 12 games. In fact, the 121 points in Cleveland last night was a season high and the Bucks did that while resting Jennings for the entire fourth quarter.
Will that offensive resurgence continue tonight? Well, the Grizzlies rank 11th in the NBA in scoring defense this season at 93.9 points per game and they rank a respectable 13th in field goal percentage against at 44.5 percent. However, that unit has gone south recently as Memphis is allowing a disturbing 102.1 points per game over its last nine contests.
When you combine a hot offense vs. a cold defense, home court and the enormity of this game in their playoff quest, the Bucks look like an easy call at this cheap price Saturday night.
NBA Pick: Bucks -2 (-113)