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NBA Preview: 29th January

WE’RE ready for another busy Saturday in the NBA as we take a look at what stands out as the best bit of value on offer for punters.

New York Knicks @ Milwaukee Bucks

Just when you thought the Knicks had hit rock bottom, they head to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks to finish off their three-game road trip.  With only one win from their past six outings, Tom Thibodeau has struggled to get consistent performances from his rotations.

New York has been fine defensively and have a strong rebounding unit which has helped their struggling offence by creating repeat possessions and second chance points.

The additions of guards Kemba Walker and Evan Fornier was supposed to add different levels of scoring and deepen the Knicks points of attack but the two have struggled to be integrated into the offence and make real impact.  Julius Randle has continued to struggle to create scoring for himself but continues to be the Knicks primary point of attack, an issue that became magnified in their postseason matchup with the hawks last year.

As a team, New York rate 29th in the league for assists per game and only 57% of their scoring is assisted on, 25th in the league.  New York don’t have the pieces to suit this isometric style of offence and it is unsurprising to see them struggle in half court sets. New York rate 22nd in half-court offence and as we touched on earlier, this number is greatly enhanced by the teams strong offensive rebounding capabilities. Their opponent, however, ranks 7th in points allowed in half court sets and top the league in fewest opponent offensive rebounds allowed.

Milwaukee will look to bounce back after a being blown out by the Cavs in a little let down spot for the defending champs.  The Bucks are a complete nightmare matchup for the Knicks. They have the capacity to score the ball in a multitude of ways and have high level offensive players who can create their own offence.  Khris Middleton has been huge for the Bucks, scoring efficiently and carrying the load throughout a season marred by player availabilities.

The Bucks lead the season series 2-1 and have won both of their recent outings by twelve and fifteen points respectively.  Milwaukee dominated the paint in their most recent encounter, owning a sixteen point advantage in the paint.  All of their matchups this season have been heavily played in the half court with low transition frequency.  Two sides that do a good job of taking care of the basketball and strong defensive rebounding teams.  If we see this continue in todays matchup the Knicks will struggle to score against a set Milwaukee defence.  The bucks five man starting unit own a 110/95 (+13.9) offensive and defensive rating in halfcourt settings while the Knicks starting five are 104/119 (-15) in half court sets.

In all three head to heads this season, the Bucks have been able to capitalize early by winning the first quarter.  Don’t be surprised if we see this continue in todays game as the Knicks have the worse first quarter ATS record in the NBA (18-29) and the Bucks at the other end of the scale (27-21).  The Knicks have been heavily reliant on their bench, who have performed well, owning the leagues best plus minus rating.  Winning the battle of the second units has allowed them to remain competitive and not take a backwards step when going through their rotations.

The Bucks will make a strong push into the All Star break and will continue through to the playoffs.  This starts right now with a statement win against a struggling conference opponent.  There is definitely some value on the total in this game (under) but my projections have the Bucks winning by 10+ points and while this isn’t a huge edge, the stylistic matchup between these two sides trending in different directions is too big to ignore.  Back the Bucks to win big at home.

Our best bet: Milwaukee Bucks -9.0 $1.94 at PlayUp


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