San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gets the chance to coach against his former assistants frequently. His most accomplished former assistant is probably Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer. Coach Bud was successful as the Atlanta Hawks’ head coach for five years and he has now led an elite Bucks team for the past season and a half.
Pop and Bud will face off against each other today as the 14-19 Spurs visit 31-5 Milwaukee in the first half of a home-and-home series (8:30 p.m. ET Saturday).
The Bucks clearly have the more talented and balanced team. MVP favorite Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to dominate and Milwaukee has a host of well-fitting role players around him. The Spurs are having a disappointing season, but there have been some encouraging signs in the past few weeks as they’ve bounced back from a 6-13 start.
This NBA game preview will discuss the contest’s key influences before breaking down its betting lines in our concluding San Antonio Spurs at Milwaukee Bucks predictions.
Will Bucks Punish Spurs On Offensive Glass?
The Bucks aren’t usually a team that go for lots of offensive rebounds. Big men Brook Lopez, Ersan Ilyasova and Robin Lopez all take more than one-third of their shots from three-point range and stay closer to the perimeter on offense a lot of the time. Even 6’11” superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo is taking six three-pointers per game this season.
However, this might be a good team for the Bucks to start crashing the offensive glass. San Antonio is a good defensive rebounding team, ranking fifth in the league with a 79.0 defensive rebound percent. The squad is just 2-12 in games when it doesn’t reach that defensive rebound rate and those two wins came by a mere three points combined.
Considering the Spurs aren’t a great transition offensive team (or at least they aren’t when they play certain lineups), the Bucks can afford to go after those offensive rebounds a little bit harder than they normally might. They do have plenty of great athletes, even guards, who can go and get contested rebounds.
Will Bryn Forbes Have One of His Better Shooting Games?
Forbes has started every game for the Spurs this year, for some reason. The 6’2” shooting guard is a rather one-dimensional player who shoots pretty well from three-point range but is not a good defender, ball-handler, playmaker or finisher at the rim. For him to be effective, his long-distance attempts need to be falling at a very high clip.
Recently, Forbes’ shot has been up and down. In four of his last 10 games, he combined to score 59 points on 20-of-37 shooting from the field and 16-of-25 from three-point range. In the other six games, he combined for a mere 23 points on 7-of-41 shooting from the field and 3-of-27 from three-point range. He had just a combined five assists in those six games, as well.
That sort of offensive production is not acceptable from a starting guard playing 25 to 30 minutes per game, much less an offensive-minded one. The Bucks are going to victimize Forbes when he is on defense, so he desperately needs to contribute on offense if the Spurs are going to have a chance of winning.
Can LaMarcus Aldridge Keep His Strong Outside Approach?
For many years, Aldridge has been a high-volume midrange shooting big man who never really embraced the three-point shot. Is that changing? If the past five games are any indication, it is.
Aldridge has knocked down 14 threes in 20 attempts (70 percent) over his past five games, mostly on pick-and-pops with Dejounte Murray and DeMar DeRozan. That’s not only extra points on the board for the Spurs, but it opens up more space for the team’s slashers to get to the basket when Aldridge pops to the three-point arc instead of the midrange area.
Considering the Bucks are a better team than the Spurs in just about every way, San Antonio needs several things to go well for it to pull out a win. Aldridge firing confidently from three-point range will increase the Spurs’ offensive potential against an elite Bucks half-court defense.
Our Preview’s San Antonio Spurs vs Milwaukee Bucks Betting Picks & Predictions
The Spurs have actually put forth some strong performances against the NBA’s elite teams this year. Since the Bucks are a heavy favorite in this game, San Antonio keeping this contest respectable might be enough for it to cover.
While Giannis Antetokounmpo will likely give the Spurs’ mediocre defense fits, San Antonio seems to be figuring out some rotation issues that led to a very poor defense early on in the season. The Spurs’ strong defensive players in the backcourt should keep the Bucks’ perimeter attack from totally feasting. Take a look at our San Antonio Spurs vs Milwaukee Bucks predictions for this preview:
- The Bucks are projected as an 11.5 or 12-point favorite with the stateside bookies. I recommend betting on the Spurs +12pts @ -110 with Bovada, 5Dimes, Intertops or Bookmaker.
- Considering how stingy the Bucks’ half-court defense is and the Spurs’ preference to get back in transition, I see a lower-scoring game in this contest where Giannis Antetokounmpo wills his team to victory with post-ups and drives against mismatches in a half-court setting. Bet on the under 228.5 total points @ -110 with Bookmaker or Intertops.
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.