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NBA Preview: 31st January

WE welcome a new week in the NBA, with an eight-game slate for punters to dive into. Let’s take a look at the best value on offer:

Denver Nuggets @ Milwaukee Bucks

THE Denver Nuggets travel to Fiserv Forum to test their recent hot streak against the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks.

The Nuggets have seen a turn of form in recent weeks winning seven of their last 10 games. This game, however, will be a significant step up in opponent strength and a good opportunity to see just where both sides are at.

We will also be in for a treat with the leagues best big men set to battle it out. Reigning MVP vs current front-runner for the award will be a great matchup and an underlying battle within the battle.

Jokic has once again been an absolute anomaly. His play and effort on the court is incredible and once again he has proven his himself by shouldering the efforts of his team and making Denver a playoffs bound team. There have been notable efforts from Will Barton and Aaron Gordon – currently questionable for today – but the drop off after the top three players is so significant and damaging it not only erases the work of the Nuggets “big three” but leaves them in a negative by the time they return to the floor.

Lineups without Jokic have been nothing short of devastating on the team. They are cumulatively -15.6 in net differential this season and its actually impressive that the Nuggets have managed a 27-21 record despite this. When breaking down their record, a large part of their success in the season has come against sub .500 teams. When challenging teams ranked in the top 10 for halfcourt defence Denver has a straight Up record of 5-13.

Milwaukee was able to comfortably win and cover against the Knicks last time out and began their home stand with a bang.  With Grayson Allen back their most used starting five combination was back on court and looking in control.

Both teams have been vastly different sides when playing at home.  The Bucks 18-8 and Nuggets 13-9 have enjoyed home cooking this season but have only managed a .500 record when playing on the road.

As we touched on previously, the Bucks are an elite half court side. They are able to negate set defences with the ball in hand and create scoring opportunities through assisted baskets or isolation plays. Bobby Portis has been huge for the defending champs in the absence of Brook Lopez., currently averaging career highs in minutes played, points per game and rebounds.

He has been aggressive on the offensive glass off missed baskets and averages three offensive rebounds per game. He has also proven himself as a respectable three point scorer increasing his attempts by almost double and maintaining 40% accuracy from deep. That scoring ability provides much needed spacing to unlock Giannis’s inside scoring and reduce the ability for teams to double.

The Bucks have a large disparity in talent for this game. While Giannis and Jokic mostly cancel each other out, Milwaukee has four of the six best players in this match and their bench heavily outweighs  the wet paper bag that is the Denver Nuggets second unit.

The Bucks are a strong first quarter team. They like to come right out of the gate and get into a commanding positon.  This will be particularly important for this matchup given both sides have proven to produce particularly poor second half efforts.

The Bucks are by far the worst team in the league in third quarter ATS (19-32).  Their only saving grace is that the Nuggets fourth quarter capitulations are worthy of the Louvre, going 16-31 ATS with a -34.32% ROI is something different.

To say that their closing quarters have been poor is a massive understatement.  In what should be a tightly contested game through three quarters give me the Champs to come home strong with the wind in their sails.

I have this line closer to eight for this matchup and expect it to move positively in that direction by tip-off – especially if Gordon gets ruled out for the Nuggets.

Our best bet: Milwaukee Bucks -6.5 $1.92 at PlayUp


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