Milwaukee at Philadelphia
Time: 1:30 PM CST
Spread: MIL -3
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Milwaukee Bucks are 27-4 and 12-2 on the road where it will take on the Philadelphia 76ers in the second game of a five-game Christmas Day slate. The Bucks are 3-point favorites, and the over/under is set at 220 total points according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
Milwaukee has been outstanding thus far and has wholly dominated its competition. The Bucks enter the Christmas Day matchup as winners of 22 of its last 23 games. The Bucks lead the NBA in scoring at 120.6 points per game, but it also has the 10th-most-stingy defense, allowing just 107.1 per game. The Bucks have a win differential of +13.5 points. Milwaukee is the league’s best rebounding team, too, averaging 51.3 boards per contest.
Giannis Antetokounmpo may finally win his elusive MVP award, too. The Greek forward is averaging 31 points, 13 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game while posting a silly-high PER of 34.62. That does not even take his defensive talents into play, where he averages 2.5 steals/blocks per game while playing outstanding one-on-one defense.
Khris Middleton is the No. 2 scorer at 18 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. Eric Bledsoe is the third-option after Middleton with 15 points and five rebounds per game. George Hill has been a great sixth man for the Bucks. He is the only Buck other than Antetokounmpo to boast a per over 20 (20.09) and 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 percent three-point shooting on 4.9 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 8.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in just 22 minutes per game. He has also started 15 games this season.
The 76ers are 15-2 SU at home where it hosts the Milwaukee Bucks Christmas Day. Philadelphia trails Boston by just 1/2-games for the lead of the Atlantic Division. If the Toronto Raptors win today, it will move Philly into 2nd place if it wins as well.
Philadelphia averages 109.8 points per game, ranking No. 17 in the Association in scoring. It allows 104.9 per, and the Sixers have a win-differential of +4.9 points. Joel Embiid is the team leader. He averages 23 points, 12.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.3 steals/blocks in just 30 minutes per game. The signing of Al Horford has helped the Sixers manage the load of Embiid much better.
Horford is averaging the same 30 minutes per game, and he averages 13.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals/blocks per game. The Sixers have Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson starting on the wings, and both are producing, combining to average 34.3 points and 10 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 14.4 points, seven rebounds, and 8.5 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 percent from the floor, he is still passing on most jump shots and he rarely (0.2 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.