Fear the Deer! Bucks to Close First Half by Beating Nuggets

bucks nuggets

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 5:15 PM UTC

Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 5:15 PM UTC

The Nuggets and Bucks close out their first half of the NBA season against one another in Beer Town on Thursday with an 8 p.m. ET tip. One two-game winning streak will end.

Denver Nuggets at Milwaukee BucksFree NBA Pick: BucksBest Line Offered: SportsBetting

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The four unluckiest teams in the NBA scheduling-wise this week have to be the Nuggets, Bucks, Lakers and Timberwolves. That’s because those are the only four teams having to play Thursday before the regular-season schedule goes dark until next Thursday. We’re here to preview Denver at Milwaukee, with an 8 p.m. ET tip, and my cohort Jordan will have a Lakers-Timberwolves preview on the SBR picks page.

This is the first meeting of the season between the Nuggets and Bucks, two rising young teams in their respective conferences. Denver actually has the more overall talent in my opinion but doesn’t have a superstar on its roster like Milwaukee does in Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will start for Team Stephen Curry in Sunday’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles. The Nuggets don’t have an All-Star.

Last season, the Nuggets swept the season series and Nikola Jokic – a borderline All-Star – had a triple-double in each. The first meeting was in Denver and finished 121-117 as Jokic had 20 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in what was the first triple-double of his career at the time. Jabari Parker had 27 points and 11 rebounds, and Antetokounmpo scored 23 for the Bucks. In Milwaukee, the Nuggets won 110-98. Jokic had 13 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, and his team led by as many as 31. Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 21 points, while the Greek Freak was held to 15.

Denver is 10-4 ATS in the past 14 meetings, including 5-2 ATS in its past seven in Milwaukee.

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Everything you need to know about last night's WIN in 90 seconds!!#FearTheDeer pic.twitter.com/RtJGpRof9a

— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 14, 2018

Bucks Rolling Since Coaching Change

Technically, the All-Star break doesn’t conclude the first half of the 82-game regular season as this will be game No. 57 for Milwaukee and 58 for Denver. Both enter on two-game winning streaks.

The Bucks (32-24 SU, 24-27-5 ATS) have won five of six overall. They returned from a four-game road trip in a bit of a trap game vs. Atlanta on Tuesday. Milwaukee looked a bit out of sorts but escaped with a 97-92 win to improve to 9-2 (6-5 ATS) under interim coach Joe Prunty. Middleton led five players in double-figure scoring with 21 points, while the Freak had 15 points and 15 rebounds. Parker continues to come off the bench as he works his way back from a torn ACL and had just seven points in 18 minutes.

Milwaukee is without two rotation guys in guard Malcolm Brogdon and center John Henson. Brogdon, last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year, could be out until April with a partially torn left quadricep tendon. Tony Snell has been starting in his place. Henson has missed the past two games with a sore hamstring, and I’m sure the team will sit him again to give him extra time to heal over the break. Thon Maker has been starting for Henson. Thus, the Bucks’ bench is a bit thin right now.

While the Bucks are all but locks to make the playoffs, the Nuggets (31-26 SU, 27-27-3 ATS) certainly aren’t in the deeper West – although I believe they do make it for the first time since 2013 barring major injury. Keep in mind that the team’s big offseason acquisition, Paul Millsap, hasn’t played since Nov. 19 due to a wrist injury. He’s targeting early-March for a return.

Denver comes off a 117-109 win over the visiting Spurs on Tuesday, made easier for the Nuggets that LaMarcus Aldridge joined Kawhi Leonard on the sideline. Jokic had 23 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists for his fourth triple-double of the season. He has the fourth-most triple-doubles in the NBA since the start of last season.

Jamal Murray was a game-time call because of chest soreness but had 17 points in 38 minutes. He will compete in the Rising Stars Game and Skills Challenge at All-Star weekend and currently is the +400 second-favorite to win the Skills Challenge at Bovada. The Clippers’ Lou Williams is the +350 favorite.

A lot of the betting trends favor Denver here, but I could see the Nuggets somewhat going through the motions for a one-game road trip just before the All-Star break and then a nice homestand. The Bucks, meanwhile, didn’t have to worry about travel. Sometimes it’s the little things. Take Milwaukee for a Thursday NBA pick.

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