A struggling duo of Eastern Conference teams attempt to get back on track today as the 24-41 New York Knicks visit the 34-31 Milwaukee Bucks (8 p.m. ET Friday).
New York is almost eliminated from playoff contention after a solid start to the season. The Knicks lost Kristaps Porzingis to a knee injury a month ago, and the squad was already starting to slide before he went down. The Knicks have a 6-23 record since the start of January and have been miserable on both ends of the floor.
The Bucks have struggled in a difficult portion of their schedule. Milwaukee is still a respectable squad, but it has lost seven of its last nine games. Eight of the nine teams the Bucks played in the stretch have a record of 35-30 or better.
Today could be a good opportunity for the Bucks to get back on track. But will the Knicks spoil that opportunity? We’ll dive into some important aspects of this game and then preview the game’s betting lines, concluding with our New York Knicks vs Milwaukee Bucks predictions, taking account of the betting lines from the best sportsbooks for American players.
Will Anyone Step Up to Match Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Production?
The Knicks are clearly missing Kristaps Porzingis. The young star big man was averaging 22.7 points per game before tearing his ACL last month, and the offense is now without an obvious go-to guy.
No one for New York has scored as many as 27 points in a game since the All-Star break midway through February. Antetokounmpo of the Bucks averages 27.2 points per contest and has cracked the 30-point barrier two times in his last three contests.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Michael Beasley and Trey Burke are the three players most capable of an offensive outbreak for New York. However all are missing the consistency factor. One (or preferably more) of them will need to score an efficient 20 to 25 points to win this road game.
Will New York Protect the Ball Against Milwaukee’s Length?
Milwaukee’s calling card on defense is its ability to create turnovers. Bucks opponents turn the ball over on 14.3 percent of possessions, which is the third-highest mark in the NBA. While Milwaukee is slightly lacking in the strength department near the basket, it has no shortage of length and athleticism.
The Bucks have won just one of their past seven games, though. In the win, they forced 26 turnovers, and they averaged 13.2 turnovers forced in the six losses. There’s a clear correlation between Milwaukee’s ability to force turnovers and its chances of winning. The team is much better scoring in transition than in half-court settings.
New York’s offense has struggled in a lot of areas over the past several games, including turnovers. The Knicks have had more turnovers than their opponents in 10 of their last 14 games. Can they keep this problem under control against Milwaukee?
How Will Enes Kanter Perform For the Knicks?
Milwaukee’s biggest problems as a team are its rebounding and interior defense. The Bucks frequently use slender post players or guys who just aren’t strong on the glass or protecting the rim.
Enter Kanter, the Knicks’ post expert. Kanter is a very limited player who is a defensive liability, doesn’t make plays for others and doesn’t shoot well outside of the paint. However, his brute strength is impressive and he is one of the top low-post scorers and rebounders in the NBA.
At Kanter’s worst, he is unplayable because opponents exploit his slow feet and lack of awareness with repeated pick-and-rolls. At his best, he provides an efficient 20 points and 15 rebounds and overwhelms his counterparts physically.
New York’s chances at winning will hinge significantly on the production of Kanter, as well as how much Milwaukee can exploit his poor defense.
Our Preview’s New York Knicks at Milwaukee Bucks Betting Picks & Predictions
New York is on the fringes of the tank race. While the Knicks have the ninth-worst record in the NBA, they are only four games away from the third-worst record in the league.
Milwaukee will appreciate the transition to much easier competition than it has played the past few weeks. This one could be a blowout for the Bucks. So we come to this preview’s betting picks and here are those New York Knicks vs Milwaukee Bucks predictions:
- Milwaukee is a 10-point favorite with nearly all online sportsbooks. Therefore, this preview advises betting on the Bucks -9.5pts @ -115 with Bookmaker, which has the most preferable line here.
- Interestingly enough, Bookmaker also has the best total points line for this game. Since the Knicks have been blown out a lot recently, they have picked up the pace a lot. Milwaukee will also gamble for lots of steals, which should result in a bunch of points for both teams. Bet the over 213.5pts @ -110 with Bookmaker.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.