Are Bucks the NBA Favorite Now After 45th Double-Digit Win?
It’s good to be the Milwaukee Bucks these days.
The team’s magical season continued Monday night when their late fourth-quarter surge led to a 131-121 victory over the Nets in Brooklyn.
The margin of victory was significant not only because they covered the spread – they were one-point underdogs – but because it marked a significant achievement that puts them in some excellent company:
The Bucks are the 8th team with 45 double-digit wins in a season in NBA history. Each of the previous 7 won the NBA title. pic.twitter.com/FbBm1xvMKX— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 2, 2019
This has been a dominant Bucks team all season, and it’s reflected in the fact that their 46-28-4 record against the spread in NBA betting is the league’s best. That is on pace for the best record against the spread since the 2014 Phoenix Suns (52-29-1).
The Bucks are an incredible 40-3-2 against the spread in those games they’ve won by double digits.
Bucks Nearing Homecourt Advantage
Being in such company doesn’t guarantee anything, of course, but the Bucks have been trending toward greatness and title contention all season. Their next step toward reaching the mountaintop is securing homecourt advantage, and Milwaukee’s magic number to clinch that is just one with four games remaining.
They’ve already locked up homecourt advantage in the NBA Finals should they get there, and that’s significant because the Bucks are an NBA-best 32-6 on their home floor. They’re also second best in the NBA on the road at 26-14, trailing only the Warriors.
Injuries Haven’t Slowed Milwaukee
That they’ve maintained their standing atop the NBA is nothing short of remarkable considering the injuries they’ve been dealt.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, the favorite in NBA MVP betting at -240, is dealing with a mild ankle sprain that kept him out of three games in March. The Bucks went 1-2 in those games and are just 4-4 when he sits, including Sunday’s buzzer-beater loss in overtime to Trae Young and the Hawks.
But having such a cushion over the second-seeded Raptors has allowed the Bucks to rest their injured players without cause for concern. All-Star Khris Middleton has missed the past two games with groin soreness, Eric Bledsoe rested on Sunday against the Hawks and Ersan Ilyasova (back) and Tony Snell (ankle) were out Monday.
On top of those nagging injuries, the Bucks are without shooting guard Malcolm Brogdon (foot), trade deadline acquisition Nikola Mirotic, first round pick Donte DiVincenzo (heel) and veteran Pau Gasol (ankle).
But players like Pat Connaughton, George Hill and Sterling Brown have stepped up. On Monday those three accounted for 48 points to complement the 57 points from Antetokounmpo and Bledsoe. Brook Lopez has been a constant, appearing in all 78 games while averaging 12.6 points, 2.4 3-pointers and 2.2 blocks per game.
Likely NBA Award Winners Galore for Bucks
It’s no surprise that, in NBA Finals betting, this team is being pegged as one that could topple the Warriors. They’ve got the MVP in Antetokounmpo and the likely Coach of the Year in Mike Budenholzer. Heck, they’ve even got a finalist for the NBA’s Teammate of the Year in Middleton.
The accolades will pour in for this team at season’s end but they also have an outstanding supporting cast, and the past couple of weeks have shown that their role players can step up in big spots.
Their title odds have been on a steady rise as the season has progressed. In the last week they’ve jumped the Raptors for the second-best odds at +850, and they continue to be the favorites to win the East at +200.
Knocking off the Warriors’ dynasty would be the tallest of orders, but the double-digit win Bucks are in the company of greatness – two of Golden State’s championships included 45+ double-digit wins. Milwaukee looks the part of title contender as the regular season comes to a close.