There are a couple of reasons that you should tune into today’s matchup between the 47-27 Houston Rockets and 55-19 Milwaukee Bucks (8 p.m. ET Tuesday on TNT).
First off, these are two great teams, which always makes for entertaining viewing. Milwaukee has had the NBA’s best record pretty much all season, while Houston has a remarkable 36-13 record since a poor start that was plagued by injuries.
Second, though, is the matchup between the NBA’s top two most valuable player candidates this season. The Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Rockets’ James Harden are two superstars having amazing campaigns that are both deserving of MVP honors.
There are several factors that could swing this game in one way or the other. Let’s examine them before we come up with the best ways to bet on the matchup with our Houston Rockets vs Milwaukee Bucks predictions for this preview.
Which Team Has a Second Star Play the Best?
I have no idea who’s better between Antetokounmpo and Harden. Since both guys so consistently dominate the opposition, there’s not much to analyze on their individual play. Both will very likely look like the worthy MVP today.
Milwaukee’s key support for Antetokounmpo is Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez. Harden has Chris Paul, Clint Capela and Eric Gordon, though Gordon is questionable for this game. All six of those supporting players are good enough to play like a star in this game.
The question is, which one or two will come through the biggest? Antetokounmpo and Harden would love to have another player that helps take the pressure off of them on offense.
Which Team Will Take Seeding More Seriously?
Down the stretch of the regular season, it is often easy to tell which teams are playing hard for playoff seeding and which teams aren’t. With two teams that are so good and playing so well, motivation could be a key factor in this contest’s outcome.
Milwaukee is definitely in a safer position in the standings. The Bucks have the East’s No. 1 seed by four games over the Toronto Raptors, while the Rockets are the third seed but are 3.5 games behind the top seed and four games ahead of the bottom seed.
However, the Bucks are new to the NBA’s upper class. They very well could continue to play motivated basketball to ensure that the league’s No. 1 overall seed belongs to them. The Rockets had the NBA’s best record last year only to lose a Game 7 at home to the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs. They may be less motivated by seeding and more motivated to enter the postseason healthy and rested.
Will the Rockets Keep Clint Capela Involved?
When Rockets center Capela is great, the Rockets usually win. He averages 18.6 points and 13.8 rebounds per 36 minutes in wins but just 15.6 points and 12.6 rebounds per 36 minutes in losses. Capela’s vertical threat in the pick-and-roll is very strong, and he can force a “pick your poison” decision by opponents when Chris Paul or James Harden are running that play with him.
When Capela is involved offensively, that also tends to transfer well to his defensive and rebounding effort. The main player guarding him will likely be Brook Lopez, who is a strong interior defender and outside shooter but is vulnerable on the glass and when he has to move laterally on defense.
Houston needs to involve Capela frequently on offense to get him motivated, force Lopez to move on defense and add an extra dimension to its offense.
Our Preview’s Houston Rockets vs. Milwaukee Bucks Betting Picks & Predictions
This should be a good game. In the end, though, Milwaukee being at home will help, as will their players’ superior defensive versatility. More of the Bucks players can chip in to guard Harden than Rockets players can guard Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo will draw more double teams, opening things up for the Bucks’ offense.
I think both teams will be motivated to perform well in this game, regardless of seeding. These are the two best teams in their respective conferences over the past couple months. The contest will have a playoff atmosphere, which means a slow pace and a lot of one-on-one offense.
- The Bucks are the USA online betting companies’ 3.5 or, mainly, 4-point favorite in this game. Put your money on the Bucks -3.5pts @ -113 with Bookmaker.
- Because of how many one-on-one offensive players there are in this game, as well as the MVP battle between Giannis and James, this NBA game should have a slow pace. Bet the under 226.5 total points @ -110 with BetOnline.
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.