The Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets will take on each other in the ultimate game of Sunday’s NBA schedule at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Florida. The tip-off is set at 8:30 PM ET, so we bring you all need-to-know betting tips and trends for this marquee matchup between the Bucks and Rockets.
Both teams re-opened the season successfully, while the Bucks defeated the Rockets 117-111 as 1.5-point road underdogs in their lone head-to-head duel of the regular season way back in October.
The Bucks missed Pat Connaughton and Eric Bledsoe in re-opener. They are doubtful to play Sunday night, still building up their game sharpness after coming down with COVID-19. On the other side, the Celtics are coming in full strength.
What’s at Stake?
The Bucks need one more victory to clinch the top spot in the Eastern Conference. However, they are only three games ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers, so the Bucks need to stay on the winning path to secure the home-court advantage through the playoffs.
The Rockets continue their battle for the highest possible seed in the Western Conference. At the moment, the Rockets sit at the fifth spot, only one game behind the fourth-seeded Utah Jazz, but the Oklahoma City Thunder are right behind them.
Milwaukee re-opened the season with a 119-112 victory over the Boston Celtics as 3.5-point favorites. Houston outlasted Dallas 153-149 in re-opener and needed overtime to cover a 1.5-point spread.
The Bucks are undefeated in three straight encounters with the Rockets, covering on all three occasions. Interestingly, all three games went in the under and produced 228 or fewer points in the total. Houston is only 1-5 ATS in its last six matchups with Milwaukee.
Despite a double-digit lead in the first half, the Bucks had to work hard down the stretch to beat the Celtics this past Friday. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 36 points and 15 rebounds, making 14 of his 20 field-goal attempts. Khris Middleton had 18 points and eight assists, while the Bucks limited the Celtics on 40.7% shooting from the field.
On the other side, the Rockets relied on their dynamic duo James Harden-Russell Westbrook to beat the Mavs. Harden accounted for 49 points, shooting 18-for-21 from the charity stripe, while Westbrook added 31 points, 11 boards, and eight assists. The Rockets shot 51.5% from the field and 39.6% from downtown.
Houston continues to roll with small-ball lineups. However, that will be a huge problem against the Bucks who are arguably the most physical team in the NBA. With Brook Lopez at five and Giannis Antetokounmpo at four, the Bucks’ frontcourt should torture the Rockets.
Also, the Bucks are the best defensive team in the Association. They surrender only 102.0 points per 100 possessions (1st in the NBA) on 41.3% shooting from the field (also 1st). The Bucks allow their rivals to shoot 35.5% from deep (17th), but that’s only because the Bucks’ interior defense in so string that their opponents often take a lot of triples (36.6 per game which are the third-most in the NBA).
The Rockets take the most 3-pointers per game (44.3) while shooting 34.9% from beyond the arc (23rd). They are tied with the Bucks for the most points scored per game (118.7), but the Rockets’ defensive rating of 110.4 points per 100 possessions is 16th-worst in the NBA.
The Rockets will try their best to defend well and get the most of their lethal backcourt. Still, they will have a huge problem to defend Giannis Antetokounmpo, and I expect the Bucks to dominate this game in the paint. Milwaukee should grab a victory here, but I think there are some better betting options.
First, I would go with Giannis to surpass his line on the rebounds once more. I already nailed it Friday night when Antetokounmpo posted 15 boards against the Celtics. Second, I would rather go with the over on the totals instead of betting on the spread, despite the fact that the last four encounters between Houston and Milwaukee went in the under.
The Bucks are very strong defensively, but Eric Bledsoe’s absence could be a problem, so James Harden and Russell Westbrook will be a huge danger. Anyway, Giannis remains my top betting pick here.