Place NBA Pick on Bucks +3 vs. Hornets

Doug Upstone

Monday, December 29, 2014 1:13 PM GMT

The Milwaukee Bucks head to Charlotte after splitting a pair with Atlanta. NBA basketball handicappers and sportsbooks are well aware Milwaukee is the best road wager in the game at 13-5 ATS.

The Bucks have a 15-16 record and are 8-10 away from home, being outscored by just 2.2 points per game. Does Milwaukee young and athletic roster have what it takes to beat the NBA odds as an underdog on Monday night?

 

Jason Kidd Has Bucks Headed in Right Direction
Everyone scoffed (including yours truly) when Jason Kidd tried the power play on New Jersey, failed, and was bailed out by one of Milwaukee’s new owners.

Kidd ended up doing a pretty good job with the Nets, but most figured he would be too impatient with the odd collection of Bucks players and their youthful mistakes.

Instead, Milwaukee has already won as many games as they did all of last season and they have made a remarkable improvement in an area nobody would have guessed under Kidd.

The Bucks are a much better defensive team, which is the biggest reason they have become more reliable for NBA picks, with their points per game down to 100.1, a 3.6 points per contest improvement.

However, when digging into the numbers deeper, in – defensive efficiency – (number of points allowed per 100 possessions) Milwaukee is presently 11th in the Association compared to dead last a year ago.

 

Charlotte’s Struggles Continue
Whatever nickname you want to call the Hornets, they still stink with a miserable 10-21 record (13-17-1 ATS). The four-game winning streak (four covers also) right before Christmas was nothing more than a holiday miracle, with two losses and non-covers to follow, including against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Charlotte was coming off a solid 43-39 campaign last season and acquired Lance Stephenson, who arrived off career highs in points, rebounds and assists and was thought to be the next big piece in the puzzle for continued success.

Instead, Stephenson has been a complete failure with poor production and a lingering groin issue. Sources around the organization say Stephenson's free-wheeling style of play and often negative body language has hurt the team chemistry.

Outside of Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson, the Hornets have little sting and are 24th in the league in point differential are -4.5 per game.  

 

Betting Odds and Head to Head
The opening odds have Charlotte as 3.5-point home favorites with a total of 196.

This may seem a bit high, but consider the Hornets have beaten Milwaukee seven straight times (5-2 ATS) and also won five in a row at home (3-2 ATS) over the Bucks.

 

Scheduling
Kidd’s Crew has two division games up next, at Cleveland (12/31) and home against Indiana after this, thus, their attention should be strong for this contest and they are 6-6 and 9-3 ATS with one day between contests.

Charlotte has a hard road affair in two days at Houston on New Year’s Eve and will also face the Cavaliers this week for their first game of the New Year.

The Hornets are 4-12 and 7-8-1 ATS with a day off.

 

The Choice
With rookie Jabari Parker done for the season, Brandon Knight becomes the Bucks’ most dangerous scorer. Playing alongside Kendall Marshall frees him up from some of his point-guard responsibilities and coach Kidd has a versatile bench he can call on most nights to pick up the slack when starters fail.

Backing Charlotte with the NBA odds even with their success versus Milwaukee just does not seem like a good investment. The Bucks are 16-7 ATS as underdogs and 12-3 ATS off a loss this season and with one of my Monday sports picks, I say – Fear The Deer.

NBA Free Pick: Milwaukee covers +3 (-105) at 5Dimes