Improved Bucks are the NBA Pick as Home Dogs vs. Suns

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, January 6, 2015 5:46 PM GMT

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Tuesday.

 

A team going from having the worst record in the NBA last season to a possible playoff berth this year could be up for some national TV exposure Tuesday night when the Phoenix Suns (20-16, 11-9 away) pay a visit to those Milwaukee Bucks (18-17, 7-7 home) at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI at 8:05 ET in a game televised nationally on NBA TV.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Milwaukee as a home underdog for this contest with the current line at +4 with odds of -102.


Playoffs? You’re Talking About Playoffs?
Last season the Bucks finished 15-67 overall, and yes that was the worst record in the league even worse than the hapless Philadelphia 76ers with their 19-63 mark. Now, not only have the Bucks already exceeded that win total while actually sitting over .500 at 18-17 after beating the Knicks in New York on Sunday, but if the season ended today they would be in the NBA Playoffs as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference!

The Suns would also be in the playoffs if the season ended today after just missing last year, when they finished as the ninth seed in the much tougher Western Conference despite winning 48 games. Phoenix is currently the eighth seed in the West at 20-16 after being the winning NBA picks for the 20th time Sunday vs. one of the Eastern powers, the Toronto Raptors, back home in Phoenix.

This contest begins a four-game road trip for the Suns.


No Jabari, No Problem
The Bucks ended up with the second pick in the NBA Draft in the draft lottery despite finishing with the league’s worst record, and they used that pick on Jabari Parker, who was off to a nice rookie campaign averaging 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in 25 games before unfortunately being lost for the season with a torn ACL, ironically enough injuring the knee vs. these Suns in Phoenix with the Bucks then still going on to pull the 96-94 upset.

And the fact that the Bucks have continued their improvement this season without their biggest benefit from being so awful last season has been most impressive.

Yes the Bucks are a bit banged up right now with forwards Ersan Ilyasova and Larry Sanders both out for this game, but believe it or not Milwaukee leads the NBA in bench points this year with 44.2 points per game, so they can withstand being without those starters better than they would have in recent years.

The Bucks have also gotten steady play at point guard this season from Brandon Knight, who leads the team with his 18.0 points, 5.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game while just as importantly adding veteran leadership. It has also helped that the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo has raised his scoring average to 12.0 points in his second season after averaging 6.8 points as a rookie, and he leads the team in shooting percentage at 50.2 percent.

Then there is also the improvement of the Milwaukee defense relative to last season, as the Bucks are now up to 12th in the league on points against at 98.7 per game while ranking an identical ninth in both field goal percentage allowed (44.4 percent) and three-point defense (34.4 percent).


Looking at Tougher Games Ahead?
That defense will be put to the test here vs. a Phoenix team ranked fourth in the league in scoring with 107.2 points per game keyed by ranking eighth in field goal percentage (46.4) and fifth in three-point percentage (37.5). The Suns were held to just 40.0 percent shooting by the Bucks in the meeting in Phoenix though including only 31.6 percent (12-of-38) from three-point land.

Then there is also a question of motivation here. Sure getting revenge for the home loss is in back of the Suns’ minds, but in the entire scheme of things this is still a non-conference game vs. a perceived “lesser” opponent with big conference road tests at San Antonio and Memphis coming up late this week, so that brings to question just how much energy the Suns want to expend opening up this four-game trip.

Conversely, the Bucks are getting a rare chance to show a national TV audience just how improved they are, and knocking off a Western Conference team would be an added feather in their cap if they pull it off.


Uncanny ATS Success vs. the West
Finally, despite there being no question that the West is the stronger of the two NBA conferences, Milwaukee has still managed to go 19-7 ATS in its last 26 games vs. the Western Conference with most of that attained by far worse teams than this 2014-15 Bucks’ edition.

While the motivational edge the Bucks should have here could key an outright upset, we will take the more conservative route and take the points with the home underdog from Milwaukee hosting Phoenix on NBA TV on Tuesday.

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NBA Pick: Bucks +4 (-102)