The re-tooled Milwaukee Bucks are off to a rough start. The Toronto Raptors have beaten the basketball odds twice in two games. Deer-hunting season begins on Sunday.
Jason's 2015-16 record as of Oct. 30: 1-2 ATS
There's a lot to like about the new-look Milwaukee Bucks. They've got a classy new uniform scheme, a marquee free-agent signing in Greg Monroe, and a remodeled bench. But it could take a while before this team gets off the ground. The Bucks have started the 2015-16 regular season 0-2 SU and ATS, including a 122-97 loss to the New York Knicks (+5 at home) in Wednesday's opener. Score another one for the good guys.
Meanwhile, slightly farther north, the Toronto Raptors are off to a 2-0 SU and ATS start. They've got new uniforms, too, with some important new players inside. These two teams will clash Sunday night (6:00 p.m. ET, NBA-TV) at the ACC; the Raptors have opened as 7-point home faves on our NBA odds board, with a total of 203.
John Henson's Labyrinth
To be fair to the Bucks, they've got some personnel issues to deal with. Swingman Giannis Antetokounmpo is back after sitting out his one-game suspension during the opener, but SF Jabari Parker (knee) and SG Tyler Ennis (shoulder) are still out, and SG O.J. Mayo (hamstring) has yet to be cleared for take-off.
You can add another Buck to the injured list. PF John Henson strained his left Achilles during the Knicks game and missed Friday's 118-113 loss to the Washington Wizards (–2 away). Henson is considered day-to-day; without him, the Bucks started back-up big Johnny O'Bryant against the Wizards. O'Bryant (–9.0 BPM last year) is a major downgrade from Henson (+2.7 BPM), particularly on defense, so keep you eyes peeled for news on his injury status.
Speaking of defense, the Raptors have to love their offseason makeover – especially head coach Dwane “Don't Call Me Dwayne” Casey. SF DeMarre Carroll, PG Cory Joseph, center Bismack Biyombo and PF Luis Scola have brought a completely different mindset to the Raptors, and center Jonas Valanciunas appears to be comfortable with his role in the defense. In turn, Casey is finally comfortable putting Valanciunas on the floor to close out games.
Is anyone comfortable with SF Terrence Ross yet? With Carroll's arrival, Ross has been relegated to the bench, where he's expected to provide some of that instant offense that guards Lou Williams (now with the Los Angeles Lakers) and Greivis Vasquez (now with Milwaukee) used to generate. Results are mixed after two games: Ross was a non-factor in the season opener against the Indiana Pacers, but scored 21 points in Friday's 113-103 win over the Boston Celtics (–2 at home).
Toronto will obviously be a more profitable NBA Pick if Ross can develop some consistency in his new role. But the Raptors have enough weapons at every position to get the job done while Ross figures things out. Kick the Bucks while they're down, and may the sphere be with you.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Raptors –6.5 at The Greek