Buck Battle: Milwaukee Visits the Orlando Magic

Milwaukee Bucks AT Orlando Magic
April 5, 2011 at 7 PM EST
Opening Line: Orl -8.5
Current Line: Orl -8
Opening total: 179
Current total: 180.5
Opening Moneyline:  Orl -385 / Mil +325
Current Moneyline:  Orl -410 / Mil +340

Jennings may be exciting, but he is horribly inefficient

As badly as Milwaukee has struggled this year, this game tonight against Orlando is of crucial importance if they are to keep their playoff hopes alive.  They currently sit three games behind 8th seed Indiana and the Bucks have split their last ten games, going 5-5.  To make the playoffs, they are going to have to win all of their remaining 4 games after tonight and pray for Indiana losses.  Indeed, the Bucks plight is very far fetched, but a loss tonight would mathematically eliminate Milwaukee from the post season.

The last meeting between the teams went into overtime, with the Magic emerging as 4 point victories despite turning the ball over 19 times and failing to hit their free throws.  Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said he was “[just] happy to get out of here with a win.”  The Magic have not significantly improved their quality of play since March 16th, when they last faced the Bucks.  In fact, Orlando has dropped two of their last three and just lost to Eastern Conference Cellar Dwellers Toronto.

Speaking of the Toronto game, Van Gundy said:  “We certainly didn’t even try to turn it on tonight, Our guys want to try to pick their spots. I’m not at all confident. I’m confident in what we’re able to do when we want to play, but I’m not confident that our guys will come with an approach to really come out and play hard and play with great energy. I’m not confident in that at all.”

If Orlando can’t come out with the necessary energy tonight, the desperate Bucks will pour on the pressure and try to get the Magic out of sorts and silence the home crowd.

Some betting trends:

The total has gone UNDER in 16 of Milwaukee’s last 23 games and the total has also gone UNDER for 8 of their last 12 on the road.  Milwaukee is 3-10 SU in their last 13 road games and the total has gone UNDER in 4 of the last 5 meetings with the Orlando Magic.  Milwaukee is 1-5 SU in their last 6 against Orlando and they are 0-5 SU in their last 5 road games with the Magic.  Milwaukee is 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games in Orlando.

The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Orlando’s last 11 games and Orlando is 6-3 SU in their last 9 games.  Orlando is 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games and the total has gone UNDER in all 5 of the last 5 Magic home games.  Orlando is 6-2 SU in their last 8 at home and they are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 against the Bucks.  The total has gone UNDER in 4 of their last 5 against the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando is 5-1 SU in their last 6 against Milwaukee.  Orlando is 5-0 SU in their last 5 games at home against the Bucks.

Key Matchups:

Andrew Bogut vs. Dwight Howard

Bogut is one of the few centers in the league that theoretically should be able to cover Howard.  Despite the teams facing one another 3 times already, Howard and Bogut have only squared off once, in the second game.  In the first meeting, Howard sat out and Gortat started.  In the third meeting, Bogut sat out and Larry Sanders started.  Tonight will give just another example of how much Dwight Howard is than other center in the league, though.  Last game against Bogut, this year, Howard scored 28 points and ripped 13 boards.  Bogut?  6 points and 7 rebounds.  Clearly, despite how good Bogut is against most of the league (13.0 ppg and 11.2 rpg), he is no match at all for “Superman.”  Howard is simply too strong, too quick, and too smart to let a player like Bogut slow him down, and with Dwight’s improving outside jumpshot, Bogut is going to be backpedaling all night and probably will seek to foul Howard until he has used all 6 fouls.

Brandon Jennings vs. Jameer Nelson & Gilbert Arenas

The Jennings – Nelson matchup should be a fun one.  Both are very diminutive guards that are shoot first ask questions later type of point guards.  Jennings probably has one of the worst shot selections in the league, and takes a number of shots that he simply can’t make.  To make matters worse, at least for his field goal percentage, is that he often ends up taking shots to beat the shot clock, which are invariably clunkers.  Jennings is shooting 38.7% from the field this year, only slightly up from his even more disgusting 37.1% last season.  He also doesn’t get that many assists, with only 4.9 a game, actually down from last season when he recorded 5.7 assists per game in two less minutes of playing time per night.  Jameer, for as bad as a defender as he can be, should be able to control Jennings and mislead Jennings into thinking he has the upper hand against the Magic’s guard.  While Nelson is in, expect Jennings to struggle, but when replaced by Arenas, if Boykins isn’t in (who would also burn Arenas), Jennings will get to the basket at will and create for himself and others.  Overall, though most would say the Bucks have the better point guard, knowledgeable basketball fans know otherwise.

Tonight’s matchup, as mentioned, is of much more importance to Milwaukee.  Tonight is a must win.  Both teams are rested since no NBA teams played last night, and even though the game will likely be low scoring, there will be a lot of energy on the court.

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