Nobody’s beaten up the NBA odds more than the Milwaukee Bucks to start the 2014-15 campaign. They bring a 15-6 ATS record into Sunday’s game at The Hangar against a very good Dallas Mavericks team.
Jason’s record as of Dec. 5: 14-12 ATS, 0-3 Totals
Things are getting very interesting in the Eastern Conference. Remember all those teams who tanked the 2013-14 NBA season in order to grab one of the top talents coming out of college? They’re all still pretty bad – except for the Milwaukee Bucks, who are already close to matching last year’s 15-win total. Milwaukee is the most profitable NBA pick there is right now at 11-10 SU and 15-6 ATS.
The Bucks are sixth in the Eastern standings as we go to press, but if they were in the Western Conference, they’d be in 11th place. That’s how deep the West is this year; the Dallas Mavericks are off to a great start at 15-6 (12-9 ATS), which is only good enough for seventh place at the moment. Dallas will try to move up the standings this Sunday night (7:30 p.m. ET) at Milwaukee’s expense. The NBA odds opened Saturday afternoon with the Mavericks laying 8.5 points at home and a total of 208.
This will be the second time in under a week that the Bucks and Mavs have squared off. On Wednesday at The B.C., it was Dallas coming away with the 107-105 victory, but Milwaukee got paid as a 4-point home dog. Was this a preview of things to come? Not necessarily – Dirk Nowitzki (22.2 PER) sat this one out with a sore back, one of two “maintenance days” the former MVP has taken thus far.
It was still a fine performance by the Bucks. Head coach Jason Kidd went 10 deep into his rotation, mixing and matching his players like a virtuoso conductor, just like he did last year with the Brooklyn Nets. On this day, it was starting point guard Brandon Knight (25 points, five assists, four steals) and reserve power forward Khris Middleton (21 points, eight rebounds, three steals) who did the most damage against Dallas.
Happy Birthday Giannis
Kidd wasn’t the only key offseason pick-up for the Bucks. Last year’s tank job netted them small forward Jabari Parker, widely considered the most polished of the one-and-done players in the coveted Class of 2014. It took a few games for the former Dukie to find his sea legs in the pros, but Parker (15.8 PER) is already an above-average player, contributing in all aspects of the game.
Getting center Larry Sanders (15.0 PER) back in the lineup and healthy has also done wonders for the Bucks. He still has a way to go to match his breakthrough 2012-13 campaign (18.7 PER), but after missing most of last year with thumb and eye injuries, Sanders is thriving in his familiar role as Milwaukee’s top defender (plus-3.1 DBPM). The Bucks now have a fledgling Big Three of Knight, Parker and Sanders to build around, with intriguing swingman Giannis Antetokounmpo (15.3 PER) leading the supporting cast at the tender age of 20.
Hot Milwaukee Action
We’ve already had the pleasure of looking at the Mavs a few times this year, sometimes more successfully than others. There’s plenty to like about this team; Basketball Reference gives Dallas a plus-5.89 SRS, which ranks sixth in the West. The Bucks are carrying a minus-1.98 SRS into Sunday’s matchup, so you could make the argument that the Mavericks “should” be laying 11 or 12 points at home instead of 8.5.
We’re going to go with the hot hand instead. The Bucks have covered their last three in a row and six of their last seven, while the Mavs are only 2-6 ATS in their last eight games despite winning five of them straight-up. Don’t forget to check our consensus reports for the latest updates before making your basketball picks, and may the sphere be with you.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Bucks