76ers vs. Bucks Odds
|8:30 p.m. ET
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A battle for Eastern Conference supremacy comes to a head on Saturday when the Sixers and Bucks collide in Milwaukee. The visitors sit five games behind the home team in first, but they can put a significant enough dent in that lead with a victory.
Both teams enter the game almost completely healthy, and both have been playing well of late. It should prove to be an epic clash, so let’s get into our preview and predictions for 76ers vs. Bucks.
Somehow, the Sixers have lost three times in their last four games. They came from 25 points down to take the lead against Dallas late in Thursday’s game only to fall by seven, failing to even cover the spread.
Prior to that — and before a victory over Miami — the Sixers lost by just two to the Heat at home despite an inspired second-half comeback. Then, there was a memorable loss to the Celtics last weekend when Joel Embiid sunk an impossible heave to win the game just after the final buzzer sounded.
So, it’s hard to say this team is playing poorly at the moment. In the last 10 games, it ranks sixth in Net Rating. It’s just been a complicated series of events, but it’s no guarantee things change here on Saturday.
After all, it’s Doc Rivers who has been changing up his rotations and pushing some different buttons to experiment with certain combinations on the floor.
Against the Mavericks, Rivers went with Tyrese Maxey in the starting lineup for a second straight game, hoping to capitalize on a tantalizing performance in a win over Miami the game prior. On that occasion, Maxey had started for an injured Joel Embiid. In the Dallas game, he started in place of De’Anthony Melton, who has been a staple in the starting lineup this year. It made sense, considering the Sixers were 9-2 in their last 11 games when trotting Maxey out with the starters.
It remains to be seen what Rivers will decide to do on Saturday, but considering Maxey (+3) was the only one remotely close to a positive +/- on Thursday with his 29 points in 35 minutes, we’ll likely see more Maxey.
The team has gained 2.3 points per 100 possessions on offense with him this season, so featuring him would be a good idea.
The Bucks can’t relate to any tough-luck losses.
They’ve won an incredible 16 games in a row, covering in eight of their last 10. Wesley Matthews remains out with a calf strain, but aside from that, there are no injuries impacting this team. They’re a fully-operational Death Star.
On top of owning the best defense in the NBA over the last 10 games, the Bucks are also second in rebounding rate. Even their offense, which ranks 19th on the season, has been stellar. It’s produced 181.1 points per 100 possessions in the last 10 games, good for eighth in the league.
One thing we look at ahead of games involving the Sixers is the opposing team’s ability to defend inside. Milwaukee can certainly do that, ranking fifth in defended field goal percentage inside of six feet at 61.2%. To make matters worse for Philly, the Bucks are second against the 3-pointer.
It’s also worth noting here that if you don’t already know, the Bucks are ridiculous at home. They are now 20-11-1 against the spread this season in Milwaukee after entering every game as the favorite.
In the first meeting between these two teams this season, it was the Bucks who managed to emerge the victor. They outrebounded the Sixers and outscored them in the paint, winning narrowly by two points. Embiid was held to 15 points on 6-of-21 shooting.
In the second game of the series, Embiid went 12-for-26, but the Sixers were still outscored in the paint and outrebounded. Despite that, they still managed to win — and it was all thanks to the fact that they shot 46.4% from 3, whereas they hit just 20.8% of their looks in the first go-around.
While going to Milwaukee might change things, I think the Sixers proved they can beat this Bucks team on the road with their rather commanding victory over them back in November.
Both teams were fully healthy, with the exception of Philly missing Tobias Harris. Philly just saw some shooting variance swing its way and continued playing well despite poor numbers inside.
This recent run for the Sixers is much better than it seems on the surface, as we touched on before. I don’t expect them to shoot 20% from 3, particularly with Maxey playing big minutes.
With that, I think we should see yet another close game, and I’d take up to four points with Philly.
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