76ers at Bucks Preview

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By Tony Mejia

Straight Up (SU), Against the Spread (ATS)

Betting Odds Breakdown

The Bucks were installed as a 8.5-point home favorite. The total opened at 226.5.

Eye Test

The 76ers were a 2-to-1 shot to win the Eastern Conference when the season began per the Westgate SuperBook, coming in just behind favored Milwaukee. They were a 7-to-1 bet to win the entire championship. Fast forward to this week, where the latest odds update lists Philadelphia as a 7-to-1 choice to win solely the East and 20-to-1 to win it all. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons made the All-Star team but Tobias Harris and newcomer Al Horford have been disappointing, the latter now coming off the bench. Embiid and head coach Brett Brown have heard boos from the fans in taking the brunt of the blame for the team underperforming, but Philly remains fifth in the East, a half-game behind current No. 4 seed Miami. Given their size and length, the Sixers remain one of the top threats to come out of the conference.

The Bucks aren’t going to break the Warriors’ 73-9 record, but they remain on pace for 70 wins provided they remain healthy. They’ve owned the league’s top record for most of the season and own a 14-game lead on second-place Indiana in the Central, which means they should clinch a second straight division title by mid-March. The last time Milwaukee won consecutive Central titles occurred in 1985-86, part of a seven-season run that produced three conference final appearances but no trips to the Finals. The Bucks are still looking to play for a title for the first time since 1974 and are currently -200 to win the East at Westgate, making them an overwhelming favorite. Their odds to win a championship are 11-to-4 (+275). Giannis Antetokounmpo is a near-lock (-600) to win his second straight MVP, while the Bucks lead the NBA in scoring (119.7) and scoring margin (+12.3).

Current Form

The 76ers are hoping to match their longest winning streak of the season by notching a fifth consecutive victory, something they’ve done on two occasions. They’re 2-3 on the heels of a four-game winning streak this season, picking up a fifth straight conquest to open the season 5-0 and lastly, back in mid-December. All of the wins have come at home, where Philadelphia is a league-best 26-2. The Sixers beat the Grizzlies, Bulls, Clippers and Nets, covering in three of the victories. Six of their next eight will come on the road, so Philly will have to fare much better outside of its own building than it has to date if it wants to avoid opening the playoffs in an opposing arena. The 76ers have dropped five consecutive road games. Ben Simmons sat out Thursday’s win over Brooklyn with lower back tightness but is listed as probable to play here. If he’s active, Brown will have a completely healthy roster at his disposal.

Milwaukee went 11-2 in January and has won 20 of its last 23 since falling to the 76ers on Christmas Day. Antetokounmpo sat out the Feb. 12 loss to the Pacers following the birth of his child. The last game the Bucks lost that the “Greek Freak” played in came on Jan. 31 against the Nuggets, who rallied from a halftime deficit and caught the Bucks flat coming out of the break. That loss was Milwaukee’s only one at Fiserv Forum since Dec. 16. Antetokounmpo returned with 33 points and 16 rebounds in a 126-106 rout of Detroit on Thursday. The Bucks’ last 10 victories have all come by double-digits. Only reserve forward Kyle Korver (back) has been ruled out.


This is the third of four meetings this season in this budding rivalry between teams that are likely to see one another this postseason. The Sixers dominated 121-109 on Dec. 25, in the first of just three games this season where they’ve been an underdog at home. Joel Embiid dominated with 31 points and 11 boards while Antetokounmpo struggled, shooting under 30 percent from the field and finishing with just 18 points following an 0-for-7 effort from beyond the arc. Philadelphia held a 100-73 lead after three quarters and saw all five starters score in double-figures. The Sixers, a dreadful shooting team, tied a franchise record by making 21 3-pointers, nearly connecting on half of their attempts. The Bucks trailed by as many as 29 points. Milwaukee got even at home with a 112-101 win that stayed under the posted total. The Bucks trailed early but ended up earning the cover by shutting down Embiid and Horford, who shot a combined 11-for-43. Antetokounmpo finished with 36 points and 20 boards. The teams will wrap up the regular-season series on April 7 in Philly.

Inside the Stats (Away/Home)

Points Per Game:
Philadelphia 108.7 (105.5)
Milwaukee 119.7 (121.5)

Points Allowed:
Philadelphia 106.2 (110.5)
Milwaukee 107.5 (108.4)

Away-Home Records

-- Philadelphia 9-19 SU, 9-19 ATS
-- Milwaukee 25-3 SU, 16-12 ATS

Situational (Eastern Conference Matchup)

The 76ers have a conference mark of 23-14, which ranks fifth in the East. They’ve dropped five of their last seven conference games and are on a 4-9 run against East foes.

The Bucks’ 29-4 mark against East foes is the best in the conference, tying the Raptors in the win column while losing four fewer times. Milwaukee has a 16-game winning streak at Fiserv Forum against Eastern Conference opposition.

Score Projection


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Betcha Didn’t Know

The Bucks have averaged 121.4 points while shooting over 47 percent of the field over the past 10 games, bolstered by a 151-point outburst against the Wizards on Jan. 28. They outrebounded the 76ers 60-50 and dominated in the pant despite Brook Lopez scoring just four points on six shots in 25:16. Count on him being more of a factor in this one as he looks to stop a confident Embiid.

NBA Expert Picks – Tony Mejia

The Sixers can make progress even if they lose since they’ve shown such little backbone on the road. The presence of Josh Richardson and the newly acquired Alec Burks should help Philadelphia better compete on the perimeter. Embiid looks like he’s in better shape than he’s been in for most of the season and he was absent during the Bucks’ win earlier this month, so this should be a must tougher challenge for team with the NBA’s best record. Take the points.
Best Bet: 76ers

VI Prediction Tool

The VegasInsider.com Prediction resource gives an edge to either team in eight specific categories listed above and there are instances where both clubs receive a positive edge (). Depending on how you weigh the below factors could provide more reason to fade or follow those teams in your wagers.

VI Edge Predictions
Categories Philadelphia 76ers Milwaukee Bucks
Eye Test
Current Form
Head-to-Head -
Inside the Stats
Score Projection - -
Betcha Didn't Know -
Expert Picks - -

Total Talk (Over-Under)

Philadelphia: 26-29-1 (Away, 12-15-1 Under)
Milwaukee: 27-26-2 (Home, 15-12-1 Over)

The ‘over’ is 6-3 during Philadelphia’s last nine overall but the ‘under’ is 8-3 through its last 11 road games.

The ‘over’ is 6-3 through Milwaukee’s last nine and has connected in three straight contests.