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The Milwaukee Bucks (33-17) are looking to get their second win in the Doc Rivers era when they take on the star-studded Phoenix Suns (29-21) in the Valley on Tuesday night.
The Bucks are only 1-3 with two blown double-digit leads since Rivers took over for Adrian Griffin. On the other side, the Suns are just 3-3 over their last six games immediately after they won seven straight games.
Here, we will analyze the betting odds and share our favorite picks for the Bucks vs. Suns matchup on Tuesday.
The Suns are favored by 3.5 points on their home floor against a Bucks team that many still view as a tier-one Eastern Conference contender, but one that has struggled to consistently play at that level for the majority of the campaign.
|Over 243.5 (-105)
|Under 243.5 (-115)
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The Bucks’ top-end talent is beyond reproach. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard’s resumes speak for themselves, while Khris Middleton is one of the best third options in the league and Brook Lopez is a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
Milwaukee’s bench also ranks in the top half league-wide in net rating (13th, -0.2) which, while it could be better, is enough to survive.
So, what is the Bucks’ real problem?
The season started with Milwaukee changing its defensive focus and structure. They forced Lopez to abandon his trademark deep drop, had Lillard take on more of a defensive responsibility than he had at any point in the season, and prioritized gambling on the perimeter to create more turnovers.
That approach quickly failed, and Milwaukee shifted back into a more traditional deep drop with Lillard mostly off the ball. However, that did not solve the issues.
The Bucks are one of the worst teams in the league containing dribble penetration. Beasley is playing the best defense of his career but still allows one point per possession defending the pick-and-roll ball-handler, well below league average for starting guards.
Milwaukee is just 15th in blocks and 22nd in points in the paint allowed despite the towering presences of Giannis and Lopez. They’re also 20th in opponents’ fastbreak points and 24th in steals, all of which is why they’re just 19th in defensive rating after finishing last season ranked fourth.
To make matters worse, the Bucks allow 3.7 more points per 100 possessions on the road compared to when they’re at home and also conceded more points per possession ever since Rivers took over.
The Suns’ season can be split into two parts: pre and post-injuries. They’re 14-6 ever since Beal rejoined the lineup on December 29 and have the seventh-best net rating in the league over the last 15 games.
While Phoenix’s defense is serviceable, their offense looks incredible. Their 121.6 points per 100 possessions over the last 15 games would be the highest in NBA history if applied to an entire season, and the blend of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal is too much for nearly every team to contain.
What makes Phoenix even scarier is it has arguably the most impressive non-star in the league this season, Grayson Allen. The 28-year-old is shooting a ridiculous 49.1% from three, just ahead of Durant (46.1% - third).
The Suns also rank seventh in rebound rate and do a great job controlling the glass despite typically not playing the largest roster.
Where Phoenix struggles is taking care of the ball. They commit turnovers at the fourth-highest frequency, and even Beal’s return did not help remedy that issue.
The Suns aren’t a great home team, but all that means is they’re most consistent night-to-night and not as volatile as other teams that depend on playing in front of their fans.
Milwaukee has only been an underdog four times all season and only covered once and is 9-15 against the spread (37.5%) on the road. At the same time, Phoenix is 13-22-2 (37.1%) ATS as favorite and 7-17-1 (29.2%) at home.
Clearly, the trends do not provide much of an indication here since neither team has been impressive from a betting perspective. Judging by their recent performances, the Suns are in a much better run and seem to have more things figured out than the Bucks do.
Giannis scored 40+ points in two of his last three meetings with Durant but also has not faced him since he was traded to Phoenix. We expect the latter to get the job done by winning and covering at home.
Bucks vs. Suns pick: Suns -3.5 at BetMGM
When: Tuesday, Feb. 6, 7:00/10:00 p.m. PT/ET
Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ
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Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.
In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.More info on Grant Mitchell
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