The Boston Celtics were nice enough to smoke the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night, easily covering their -4.5 point spread and getting me a win. It’s always nice to start off any new betting season at 1-0 and hopefully you were along for the ride.
Things get a bit trickier come Wednesday, as there will be quite a few contests to choose from. Keep in mind I am assigned specifically to the Eastern Conference, so I’ll be making my pick from that side of the NBA. Let’s shoot for 2-0 as I attack a game in Charlotte between the Hornets and Milwaukee Bucks.
I actually tend to hesitate to bet against the Hornets when they’re at home, but Charlotte was actually a middling 21-20 on their home court last year and these teams are headed in very different directions. The Hornets got rid of Dwight Howard this summer and while they certainly have some talent, it’s inferior to the stack job the Bucks have got going on.
Nobody on the Hornets can consistently check Giannis Antetokounmpo, while star scorers like Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton and newly added center Brook Lopez make this a formidable foe. Should you back the Bucks, go with Charlotte at home or attack the total? Let’s break this game down a bit further to find out:
Milwaukee Bucks (-2.5, -105) @ Charlotte Hornets (+2.5, -115) Total: 217 (-110)
The Hornets used to be a pretty tough out at home, but they regressed last year. Getting rid of Dwight Howard probably improves their locker room, but he was still a great rebounder, could defend and got easy buckets. They don’t have a dominant interior force like that anymore and that could be a problem with Lopez’s offense and The Greek Freak’s ability to attack.
It’s worth pointing out that these two did split the season series (2-2) last year and both sides were 2-0 at home. However, for one of those games in Charlotte, Antetokounmpo didn’t even suit up. I think this one registers a little differently, too. Not only have the Bucks made big moves and gotten better, but they need to send a message to the entire Eastern Conference with this season opener.
I’m sure Charlotte would love to do something similar in their home opener, but they’re the inferior team and I think they’ll have a difficult time stopping all of Milwaukee’s weapons. The Bucks have been encouraged to let it fly from the perimeter more this season and considering the Hornets ranked 27th out of 30 teams in three-point percentage allowed.
That won’t for sure translate to the new year, but it certainly could and Milwaukee’s willingness to attack from all angles could be a problem for the Hornets.
I think the ATS data can be of use here as well.
The Hornets were not good when Vegas bet against them on their home floor (1-9) a year ago. That’s not fully damning, but it can’t be encouraging if you were thinking about going with the Hornets. In fact, Charlotte (10-24-4) just wasn’t a great team to favor when perceived as the underdog in general last year.
Milwaukee was admittedly terrible ATS last season, but the Bucks for some reason responded very well (10-3) to being road favorites. That’s the spot they find themselves to start the new year and with their mission being proving to everyone they belong in the NBA Finals discussion, I don’t think they’re about to lay an egg here.
I was initially digging a flat -2 point spread for the Bucks, but just about every site added an extra 0.5 and I don’t like losing the safety of a push. The spread is still in play, but this game should be close. I’ll take the Bucks to win at a solid -135 price at Bovada.