January 6, 2015 (Posted at 5:00 PM ET)
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Tonight's pick is a below average one risking 2% from our bankroll given that there are only 2 NBA games scheduled and value is therefore harder to come by than other days.
Take Milwaukee Bucks at +4.5 spread against Phoenix Suns risking 2%
The red hot Phoenix Suns travel to the BMO Harris Bradley Center to take on the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks are a much improved team this season and come into this contest having won 4 of their last 6 games which puts them a game above a .500 record. This is a much better position that many expected and has in fact put them right in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. They are led on offense by PG Brandon Knight, who is averaging 18 points and 5 assists per game! The talented playmaker has grown in confidence while Giannis Antetokounmpo who just turned 20 years old last month is next in line averaging 12 points and 6 rebounds per game! O.J. Mayo is having a quality season shooting proficiently from the field while the Georgian Zaza Pachulia continues to be an under-rated big in the NBA.
Despite injuries to Jabari Parker, Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova, this club has managed to win games thanks to its deep squad and its ability to play solid defense which has resulted in their last 6 games going 'Under' the set total. The Bucks come into this contest ranked 13th in the league in scoring defense and play as a solid unit with each player knowing their precise role. They are allowing opponents to score an average of just 98 points per game and that is in direct contrast to a Suns team that simply tries to outscore opponents and lacks defensive organization. The Bucks have managed to hold their opponents to just 38.2% shooting from the field over their last 5 games!
The Phoenix Suns are an offensively capable team. Coming from the run and gun style of the Western conference, their guard heavy play can put a lot of points on the board. Defensively however, they leave a lot to be desired and can be outright lazy at times! Milwaukee moves the ball around well themselves and has some capable scorers but they also realize that getting into a shootout with Phoenix won't play to their strengths. The Bucks have done well at contesting their opponents’ shots and tend to make life difficult from the field. They rank 8th in the league in field goal defense and will need another solid effort on that end tonight. They have been great at keep the score close by limiting the 3-ball and that will be key against a Phoenix squad that regulary tries its luck from beyond the arc.
Jason Kidd's squad managed to knock off the Suns 96-94 in a back and forth battle just a couple weeks ago out in Phoenix and while the Suns will no doubt be looking for revenge, this group has already shown its ability to neutralize high-powered offenses. They beat the Clippers and Memphis at home and even though they did get into a shootout with the Mavericks and lost, they did cover the spread on a night when they were once again 4.5 underdogs! The Suns are coming off a game where they put up 70 points in the first half against a quality opponent like Raptors and will no doubt be overly pleased with themselves. This is a squad that has a complacent nature and finds itself in a flat spot after such a big win! They start a 4-game road trip tonight and have another game to worry about against a Western conference team tomorrow.
Given the Cavaliers' recent poor streak which resulted in a loss to the lowly 76ers last night, this is a great opportunity for the post-season hopeful Bucks to make up ground. They can tie Cleveland's number of wins (19) with a victory tonight and we believe they are capable of that. Milwaukee has a chance to close the gap against its Central division rivals and improve its position in the Eastern cnoference seeding. This is a tough contest for both sides and the points could come into play. We believe the spread has been inflated too much with the public wanting to jump on the hot ATS (against-the-spread) streak of Suns much like they were late to the party last night with the Pelicans. Milwaukee has won and lost some very close games (but covered the spreads) this season and this could be another one. Take the precious points as this could go right down to the wire.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Milwaukee is 17-7 ATS as an underdog this season!
- Phoenix is just 2-4 ATS this season when revenging a home loss this season.
- Milwaukee is 11-3 ATS vs poor defensive teams (those giving up over 99 points per game) this season!
- Milwaukee is 12-3 ATS vs. teams scoring more than 99 points per game this season.
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