NBA Odds: Milwaukee Bucks at Houston Rockets

America East Tournament PreviewMilwaukee at Houston
Time: 8 PM ET, Jan 18, 2014
Spread: HOU -14
Total: 199

Betting odds courtesy of Bovada

Milwaukee is the owner of the league’s worst record, with just seven wins in 38 games. Traveling to face James Harden and the potent Houston Rockets offense will not be an easy task for the Bucks, who are 14-points underdogs in the contest. ]

Milwaukee has struggled to score this season, averaging just 91.3 points per game, and for all that Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings may not have been as a backcourt, the tandem could score. Replacing the duo with Brandon Knight and O.J. Mayo has been a miserable experiment in futility.

Mayo stood out last year in Dallas, but is seeing just 28 minutes a night and posting a below-league average PER of 11.7. Knight is doing slightly better and leading the Bucks in scoring with 15 points per game, but after that duo the Bucks really have no other decent offensive options.

John Henson is limited offensively, but quietly becoming a very good power forward, and Larry Sanders doesn’t have any offense to speak of either. Rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo has looked very promising in spurts, but is far too raw to be much of an offensive contributor.

All of this has the Bucks hurdling towards a high draft pick in a loaded draft, and as owners of the league’s worst record it could select no lower than fifth. With six potential franchise players in the draft, that is a note of hope for suffering Bucks fans.

The Rockets are 26-15 this season, but most still don’t believe the team can contend. The popular reason is to cite the Rockets lackluster defense. James Harden has been realxing on “D” and saving his energy for the offensive end, and Dwight Howard has once again been left to cover the blunders of the perimeter defenders as he did in Orlando.

Jeremy Lin still needs a lot of work on his lateral foot speed, and though Patrick Beverley is an excellent defender, he’s not as capable a playmaker which often renders him out of the picture offensively. He’s out with an injured hand but will be back later this week, most likely.

And, of course, Harden’s usage rate is once again near the top of the league, and the guard is posting 24.4 points per game this season. At times, he’s having a Carmelo-like effect on his teammates who stand around and watch him jack up ill fated fade away threes. Though Harden is a great scorer, his mindset is going to have to shift some to involve his teammates more.

Dwight Howard has looked much more like the dominant force he was in Orlando and is posting a PER of 21.4 while averaging 17.9 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. His back appears healed, and though he isn’t quite blocking shots at the rate he used to (just 1.8 per game this season), his defensive impact still remains strong and should be a featured part in revamping the Rockets defense.

For, if this Rockets team is to contend, it cannot have a bottom-third type of defense anchoring it. The lack of strong defenders in the frontcourt rotation hurts, too, and Omer Asik and Dwight Howard are horrible on the court together.

Asik hasn’t played in months, and wants to be traded, but Daryl Morey passed the Dec deadline (contractual clause) without finding a deal he liked. Perhaps for the Rockets to contend truly, another offseason is needed for Morey to attempt to strengthen the team’s overall defense.

MIL Trends: 0-4 ATS in last 4 road games; 1-6 ATS in last 7 overall; 1-5 ATS in last 6 following SU loss.

HOU Trends: OVER 5-0 in last 5 following SU loss of more than 10 points; 5-0-1 ATS in last 6 on Saturday; 1-5 ATS in last 6 vs teams with winning percentages below .400

Head-to-head: Bucks 4-1 ATS in last 5 meetings in Houston.

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Posted by on Jan 18 2014. Filed under Headlines, NBA. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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