NBA Odds: Milwaukee Bucks at Brooklyn Nets

Bucks guard Khris Middleton is the best star few know about.
Bucks guard Khris Middleton is the unheralded star in the NBA.

Milwaukee Bucks at Brooklyn Nets
Time: 7 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: MIL -1.5
Total: 208

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

The Milwaukee Bucks are pretty long shots to make the postseason. The Bucks are six games behind No. 8 Detroit Pistons, and the two-game winning streak it rides may end up being a case of too little too late.

But that is still better than its opponent tonight, the hosting Brooklyn Nets who are just 18-47 on the season and has a lottery card already firmly punched. Even so, the Bucks are just 1.5 point favorites in the game which will air at 7 Central on NBA League Pass.

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The Bucks have gone 5-5 over its past 10 games, and they are coming off back-to-back victories against the Miami Heat and New Orleans Pelicans.

Khris Middleton has proven himself worthy of the max-contract he received last summer, and he led the way with 19 points in the win over the Pelicans. Milwaukee had all five starters score 15 points or more, using a balanced attack to wear down a poor defending Pelicans team.

But Middleton has been the No. 1 option, and over the past 10 games he is averaging 22.7 points, 4.6 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game. Middleton is shooting 40 percent from three point range on the season, attempting 4.8 of those per game. But the Bucks are a pitiful three point shooting team, averaging just 5.5 threes per game on 35.2 percent shooting. O.J. Mayo (1.3 makes per game) and Jarryd Bayless (2.0) more or less sum up the remainder of Milwaukee’s three point shooting, and neither player is a starter even.

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The Bucks also have never really received that “franchise player” type of play out of No. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker. Parker missed the majority of his rookie season, but even so he is averaging only 13.3 points per game in 30 minutes a night. He is thought to be a highly skilled swingman capable of being a perennial All-Star, but little of that has been seen thus far.

The Bucks true franchise talent, outside of Middleton, is Giannis Antetokounmpo, and he has started to bring his offensive game along as an intriguing forward really capable of manning all five positions. He has averaged 16.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game, but the Bucks are still struggling to score the ball. Milwaukee averages just 99.4 points per game this season while shooting 46.4 percent from the field as a team.

What has really crushed Milwaukee though is its regression on defense. The team was a top-five defensive club a season ago, but the Bucks are giving up 103.1 points per game which is the fourth-worst mark in the East. That is not a recipe for playoff success, and the Bucks have a -3.7 point differential which again ranks third-worst in the East.

The Bucks need a lot of things to become a better team, but atop that list is a committed effort to defense and some court spacing on offense. The Bucks will try to retool this offseason, but it is hard to imagine a franchise-changing talent choosing to play in Milwaukee.

The Nets meanwhile are an even worse offensive team, averaging just 97.6 points per game and getting little production outside of its 4/5 tandem of Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young. No. 3 leading scorer Jarrett Jack was lost for the season, and No. 4 scorer Joe Johnson was bought out and signed with the Miami Heat.

That has left the Nets struggling to find offense, and outside of the 4/5 tandem the team generates just 62 points per game. The roster is filled out by a lot of “nobodies.”

Former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani was worth little to nothing for the Nets, seeing just 13 minutes per game and only having appeared in 46 contests this season. He said he is waiting until next season to sign a contract, having been released by the Nets who were frustrated with getting close to nothing from the court-stretching big man.

The Nets would be prudent to shop Lopez and attempt to gain a talent capable of turning the team around. It is never an easy task acquiring franchise players, but the Nets cannot even round the team out with five solid starters. It has been a rough year in Brooklyn.

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