After clawing back on Tuesday night to earn a hard-fought win over the New York Knicks on Tuesday night, the Philadelphia 76ers are back at it for a second straight night on Wednesday, playing host to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks, meanwhile, come in two days removed from their ninth win in 10 games, though covering the spread lately has been a bit of an issue for them.
Without Joel Embiid once again, will the Sixers have more trouble scoring the basketball? Or will Milwaukee fail to put away another opponent? We’ll tell you where to look for your free NBA picks at SBR’s top-rated sportsbooks.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Wednesday, March 17, 2021 – 07:00 PM EDT at Wells Fargo Center
Going on a Run
It’s been a fantastic 10-game run for the Bucks, who have won nine games over that span. In that time, though, Milwaukee has been an unspectacular 10th in offensive rating, checking in at 116.2 points per 100 possessions, and sixth in defense, yielding 107.8. While the defensive number is an improvement over their season-long mark, the offense has sputtered just a hair lately, and it’s part of the reason that Milwaukee has covered just six times in its past 10.
Now, we’re certainly nitpicking here. It’s not as if the Bucks are playing bad basketball by any means, we’re just pointing out that they haven’t been the strongest team, and that matters when you’re getting ready to lay a lot of points with them. One thing that also matters is that they’ve been very bad away from home.
Milwaukee sits at a weak 7-12 against the spread on the road this season and has been the favorite in all but one of those contests. It’s also failed to take advantage of having more rest than its opponent, going 6-6 ATS in these spots.
One of the things that’s been working for Milwaukee, aside from its defense, has been its shooting. Over the past 10 games, the Bucks rank fifth in Effective Field Goal % at 59.4. The offense is also running at the third-fastest pace with a 102.23 rating, so in theory the numbers should be better.
Still No Jo
So far, it’s been a mixed bag without Joel Embiid. After losing the bigman to injury, the Sixers had an explosive blowout win over the Spurs before coming back down to Earth against the Knicks on Tuesday, a game which they had to come back and win late by just three points. So, they’re still 2-0 without their most important player, things haven’t exactly been easy.
On the whole, Philly is now 4-5 straight up without Embiid this year, and have lost two of those games by 15 or more points. Without the bigman on the floor, the team’s shooting 2.4 more threes per 100 possessions, but hitting on just 33.4% of them, which is a big reason the Sixers are scoring 12.2 fewer points per 100 possessions when Embiid’s off the court.
The saving grace here, though, may be the location of the game. The Sixers have been incredible at home this year with a 14-7 record against the spread, and have covered in all three games this season as the home underdog. What’s not working for them, however, is that they’re a dreadful 1-5 ATS on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Bucks’ shooting has been very good of late, and I see that as a decisive factor here. The Sixers simply have not shot the ball well without Embiid, but have taken such a high volume of shots in those minutes. Milwaukee’s defense, like New York’s, is very good on the perimeter, and the team as a whole is red-hot at the moment and hard to fade. There’s also the issue of pace; both teams see a lot of possessions per game with high pace ratings, which should play into the hands of Milwaukee, who has the more efficient offense as things stand today.
It should continue to be difficult playing without Embiid, and for my NBA picks, I expect the Bucks to assert their dominance here. We’ve still yet to see this Sixers team come back to Earth after losing Embiid for a couple of weeks due to a foot injury, and a cold run should begin right here.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.