NBA Picks on Spread & Total for Knicks vs. Bucks

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 4:00 PM GMT

The Milwaukee Bucks weren't above .500 even once last season. However, with a victory on Tuesday against the visiting New York Knicks the improved Bucks will go over the break-even mark. Milwaukee is a 3.5-point favorite on BetOnline's NBA odds.

New-and-Improved Bucks
Milwaukee (5-5) won just 15 games last season, by far the fewest in franchise history, in finishing with the NBA's worst record. It took 21 games for the Bucks to get to five wins. It was 27 to reach six victories, which the team would accomplish with a win over New York. Jason Kidd has to be in the early conversation for NBA Coach of the Year.

The Bucks come in off a 91-84 victory in Miami on Sunday. Point guard Brandon Knight led the team with 20 points. Kidd decided to start the "Greek Freak," Giannis Antetokounmpo, for the first time this season. The incredibly athletic Antetokounmpo, who has incredible upside, finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 32 minutes. He was part of a three-guard lineup with Knight and Jared Dudley. It helped the Bucks' cause certainly that the Heat played without Dwyane Wade and that fellow star Chris Bosh was just 2-for-17 from the field.

So why are the Bucks so much better than last season? Healthy has helped -- Larry Sanders, for example, was rarely healthy last year. He's averaging 6.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in just 22.4 minutes per night. The Bucks' bench has been the highest-scoring reserve group in the NBA. Milwaukee's reserves have outscored the opponents' bench guys a whooping 448-270.

Rookie Jabari Parker has been pretty solid, averaging 10.6 points as the team's starting small forward. In fact, with Parker and Antetokounmpo both in the starting lineup vs. the Heat it marked the first time in Bucks history they started two teenagers. Minnesota has started teenagers Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine this season, but prior to that no team had done it since the 2005-06 Atlanta Hawks.

The Milwaukee defense has been much, much better this year. For example, the Bucks allowed an average of 103.7 points and a shooting percentage of .468 in 2013-14 but 92.6 points and .418 shooting in this campaign. Already Milwaukee has held four opponents under 90 points after doing so only seven times a year ago.

When it comes to the NBA odds, the Bucks are an excellent 7-3 against the spread this season at sportsbooks but 2-8 'over/under'.

 

Knicks Still Learning Triangle
At 3-8, the Knicks have been an early-season disappointment under rookie head coach Derek Fisher. They do enter off their best game thus far, a 109-93 home win over Denver on Sunday. Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith each scored 28 points as the Knicks reached triple digits for the second time. New York ranks 25th in scoring at 93.9 points per game. Anthony had been struggling in the triangle offense but said a recent chat with team president Phil Jackson helped give Melo some "clarity" about his role in the intricate offense that Jackson made famous. Anthony has made 57 percent of his shots since the talk with the Knicks president, including 20 of the past 27. In the four games before his conversation with Jackson, Anthony hit 44 percent of his shots.

The Knicks played Denver without starting guard Iman Shumpert. He suffered a hip contusion in Friday's loss to Utah. Shumpert is averaging 12.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists and is a tremendous defensive player. He plans to take part in Tuesday's shootaround so obviously if that goes well he will play. The Knicks remain without point guard Jose Calderon. He has yet to make his Knicks debut due to a hamstring injury.

This is New York's only visit of the season to Milwaukee because one Bucks home game vs. the Knicks instead will take place Jan. 15 in London. The Knicks are 3-8 ATS this season at sportsbooks and 6-4-1 'over/under'.

 

Last Season
New York won the season series 3-1. Anthony played in all four and averaged 26.3 points and 7.8 rebounds. Smith averaged 21.3 points and 6.3 boards. Knight led the Bucks in averaging 18.9 points vs. New York. Sanders missed two of the four games.

NBA free picks: We have two free NBA picks to offer readers, as we will take the Knicks and the 'Under.' New York has covered seven of the past nine meetings with the Bucks. The 'under ' is 7-0 at sportsbooks in the Bucks' past seven games. 

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