NBA on TNT Picks: Philadelphia 76ers at Milwaukee Bucks

Philadelphia at Milwaukee

Time: 7 PM CST (TNT)

Spread: MIL -10

Total:  228

Odds c/o 5dimes

The Milwaukee Bucks are 43-7 and 26-3 against the Eastern Conference. The Bucks have fared 23-3 at home this season where it hosts the visiting Philadelphia 76ers as 10-point favorites. The over/under is set at 228 points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes, and the game will tip-off at 7 PM (CST) on TNT.

PHILADELPHIA NEWS & NOTES:

The Philadelphia 76ers are seeded No. 6 in the East currently, with an 8.5 game lead over No. 7 Brooklyn and an identical record to No. 5 Indiana. Philadelphia trails No. 2 Toronto by six full games, though, as well.

Philadelphia averages 108.4 points per game, ranking No. 22 in the Association in scoring. It allows 106.1 per, and the Sixers have a win-differential of +2.3 points. Joel Embiid is the team leader. He averages 23.4 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.2 steals/blocks in just 31.1 minutes per game. The signing of Al Horford has helped the Sixers manage the load of Embiid much better. Embiid has also appeared in only 31 games to this point and is currently now cleared for non-contact conditioning drills. He is expected to be evaluated again in another week.

Horford is averaging the same 30 minutes per game, and he averages 12.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals/blocks per game. The Sixers have Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson starting on the wings, and both are producing, combining to average 34.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.

Ben Simmons is certainly a unique point guard, but he has not been without his issues. The 6’9” point-forward is averaging 14.9 points, seven rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game, but the mantra that he “cannot shoot” is not dying any sort of quick death. While Simmons shoots a very fine 56.3 percent from the floor, he is still passing on most jump shots, and he very rarely (0.1 per game) shoots the triple.

It does affect matters. Teams do not respect Simmons’ shooting ability and that makes it easier to double team Embiid and Harris. Until Simmons gains a respectable mid-range jumper and potentially even a three, it is tough to imagine the Sixers making that final step towards true contention. Philadelphia is a good team, but in some senses, it is an easy team to prepare for. While Embiid is extra-worldly, Simmons’ upside is quite mitigated by his errant shooting. It is not much different than the trajectory seen in the career of Rajon Rondo. Either add a respectable jump shot or keep launching uncontested bricks. It is up to Simmons which it is.

MIL

Milwaukee has been outstanding thus far and has wholly dominated its competition with its 43-7 record thus far. Milwaukee is 26-3 against Eastern Conference opponents.

The Bucks are No. 1 NBA in scoring at 120 points per game, and it allows just 107.6 per game. The Bucks have a win differential of +12.4 points. Milwaukee is the league’s best rebounding team, too, averaging 51.8 boards per contest.

Giannis Antetokounmpo may finally win his elusive MVP award, too. The Greek forward is averaging 30 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game while posting a silly-high PER of 33.50. That does not even take his defensive talents into play, where he averages 2.3 steals/blocks per game while playing outstanding one-on-one defense.

Khris Middleton is the No. 2 scorer at 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game. Eric Bledsoe is the third-option after Middleton with 15.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. George Hill has been a great sixth man for the Bucks. He is scoring 10 points and dishing three assists per game in just 21 minutes a night.

Veteran center Brook Lopez has been somewhat effective, but his 30.4 percent three-point shooting on 4.8 attempts per game certainly helps keep defenses honest and spreads the court for the Bucks. Lastly, Donte DiVicenzo has stepped into the same role he served at Villanova for the Bucks. He is providing a spark. The second-year guard is averaging 8.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in just 22.6 minutes per game. He has also started 20 games this season. The Bucks are legitimate contenders, now that the Warriors dynasty has come to its end, and also because LeBron James headed to the Western Conference.

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