Bucks Favored in Opener Against Undermanned Sixers
The mood could not be any more different between Philadelphia and Milwaukee. As they prepare to start the season, the 76ers vs Bucks betting odds have the latter favored by six points. Not only is Milwaukee the home team, but franchise man Giannis Antetokounmpo re-committed to the team to match new superstar Damian Lillard’s terms. Meanwhile, the 76ers will travel without disgruntled star James Harden. Could all these impact their performances and the betting lines?
Records (2022-23): Philadelphia 76ers (61-32), Milwaukee Bucks (59-28)
Location: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
Streaming: TNT, FuboTV
Philadelphia Looks To Shine Even Without Harden
To answer the question, yes, the Philadelphia drama may influence how the public views this NBA matchup. It’s an intangible not calculated by the computers. But Harden being on the NBA injury report today could also be a boon for Philadelphia. Without his presence, the team could focus more on playing the Bucks.
“He’s been gone for 10 days, so we’re in ramp-up phase again,” 76ers coach Nick Nurse told reporters following Wednesday’s practice. “So, like we would normally do, he will stay and get on-court work with our staff and with our players from the [G-League team]…”
Harden will sit out of the Sixers’ two-game road trip. They were 11-13 as road underdogs last season. That 45.8% winning percentage is the second-best among NBA teams that played 10+ games as one. And Nurse has also been great at proving the NBA odds wrong.
Since 2018-2019, when he first became a head coach, his Raptors had the best winning percentage (42.9%) for road underdogs. Nurse enters Philadelphia looking to revitalize a perennial contender that can’t get over the hump.
The new coach is ingenious and could reinvigorate Joel Embiid. Last year’s leading scorer and MVP is still one of the NBA’s best players. Philadelphia has had the second-best record in the league (62.2% winning percentage) since he became an All-Star in 2017-18.
Beating Milwaukee can prove quite a task. The 76ers vs Bucks betting odds spot Philadelphia with six points. The team is just 3-9 and 4-8 against the spread (ATS) in its last 12 games against Milwaukee. Still, Nurse’s Raptors went 12-11 against the Bucks including a playoff series win in 2019. Few coaches have an answer to the “Greek Freak”. But Nurse could be one of them.
But Lillard Changes the Answers to the Bucks’ Questions
Antetokounmpo is still the Bucks’ focal point. And the team still has most of its core intact from Khris Middleton at forward to Brook Lopez at center. But the addition of Lillard in place of Jrue Holiday, and Adrian Griffin now coaching the team, changes things.
Griffin, a former assistant coach of Nurse in Toronto, will coach a more defensive style for the Bucks. It could be a reaction to the Bucks getting outlasted by the Heat for the second time in the NBA playoffs last year. Not under Griffin’s watch. Milwaukee will push harder.
The team already ranked as the fourth-best defense (110.9 defensive rating) last season. The Middleton-Antetokounmpo-Lopez frontcourt will remain tough to score against.
But Lillard, also with former coach Terry Stotts on the team, could further boost Milwaukee’s inconsistent offense. The Bucks’ offense worked just fine at home last NBA season (116.7 versus 111.9 on the road). That’s why 63.6% of their games went over the total (28-16-0), which led the league. The total of 225 could be a tad too low here given these trends.
Lillard gives Milwaukee a prodigious scorer, ball handler, and more notably, closer. That’s why Milwaukee will continue to be a top team on the NBA standings and an NBA championship favorite. And it will be comfortable chalk, not just at -225 on these 76ers vs Bucks betting odds, moving forward.
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