The Milwaukee Bucks and the Portland Trail Blazers square off in a battle between two early leaders on Tuesday, 11/6/18 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon.
The Bucks have opened the season at 8-1 and are currently the #2 team in the Eastern Conference while the Blazers have come out of the gates with a 7-3 start while having the 3rd best record in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks are fresh off blowing out the Sacramento Kings 144-109 in their last game while the Blazers are coming off a 111-81 dismantling of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Milwaukee Bucks can attribute their good start to the play of Giannis Antetokounmpo who has been even freakishly better this season. Antetokounmpo has improve leaps and bounds year after year in his NBA stay but this season, the Greek Freak is putting up even better numbers. Giannis is averaging 26.1 points per game while adding a career high averages in rebounds at 13.9 boards per game and assists at 5.9 dimes per contest.
Antetokounmpo’s even improved played produced a triple double in the Bucks’ last outing. The Greek Freak poured in 26 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and issued 11 assists in Milwaukee’s 144-109 shellacking of the upstart Sacramento Kings. The triple double was Antetokounmpo’s second of the season, tying him with the Sixers’ Ben Simmons for most in the league this season. Giannis also has 7 double doubles this season, 4th most in the entire NBA.
Khris Middleton remains the second option in Milwaukee with his 19.2 points per game average to add to his 5.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Eric Bledsoe is also contributing 13.6 points and a team leading 6.2 assists per game. Transferee Brook Lopez is adding 10.8 points per game and is second in the team in three point shots made at 2.1 triples per contest.
The Portland Trail Blazers bounced back with a 30 point win over the Minnesota Timberwolves after losing to the struggling Los Angeles Lakers the previous night. Portland had won 16 straight games over Los Angeles but saw their win streak end after Los Angeles unleashed a 32-16 third quarter run that put the Blazers in a 20 point hole. Portland did come back but came up short in the end and lost 110-114.
For the Blazers, it’s the usual suspects leading the team to victory. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are one of the best starting guard duos in the NBA today. This season Dame is averaging 28.1 points per game while McCollum is barely missing the 20 point mark with his 18.1 point scoring average. Lillard leads Portland with 2.7 three pointers per game while McCollum is right behind him at 2.0 However, McCollum is struggling to shoot the ball this season at 42.95 from the field.
Portland’s dynamic duo is getting the needed support from big man Jusuf Nurkic who is averaging a double double with 15.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game this season. Zach Collins is the fourth player averaging twin digits scoring with 10.8 points per game while leading the team with 1.6 blocks per outing.
The Bucks are 4-1 SU in their last five games, 8-1 SU overall through nine games played this season and 2-1 SU on the road this season. On the other hand, the Blazers are 4-1 SU in their last five games played, 7-3 SU in their first 10 games of the 2018-19 NBA season and 4-2 SU in their four games played at home this season.
Milwaukee leads the all-time series between these two teams at 72-51 and the Bucks have taken six out of the last eight overall meetings including the last four games played in the previous two seasons. The Bucks have also won the last two games played in Portland but prior to that, the Blazers won three of four at home.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the man to watch here as he averaged 32.0 points per game against the Blazers last season. Portland was only one of seven teams during the 2017-18 campaign whom the Greek Freak averaged 30+ points against. Antetokounmpo is a career 6-3 against the Blazers although he is a career 2-3 in Portland.
The Bucks are off to a great start at 8-1 but they’ve played just three games on the road so far and have gone 2-1, losing to the Celtics in their biggest test of the season so far. They have a win over the Raptors but Kawhi Leonard did not suit up in that contest.
The Blazers are 4-2 at home and between those two records, I trust the Blazers’ home record better. There’s so much talk about Portland’s offense being too dependent on Lillard and McCollum but this season, Nurkic has stepped up to provide a steady third force. On the other hand, it’s Milwaukee whose offense is too dependent on one player to score and create for them. I like the Blazers because their offense has more balance and they are playing at home. We’re picking the Portland Trail Blazers to beat the Milwaukee Bucks on 11/6/18.
The Bucks are 6-2-1 ATS in their nine games played so far this season while the Blazers are 7-3 ATS in their first 10 games of the 2018-19 NBA season. Milwaukee is 1-2 ATS in their three road games played this season while Portland is 4-2 ATS in their six games played at the Moda Center this season.
The Blazers have been very solid at their home floor so far with their losses coming by a combined two points and their four wins coming by at least a 13 point margin. I like the Giannis and the Bucks but they have yet to be tested by a Western Conference playoff team. I’ll take whatever plus they give the home team. Prediction: Blazers +1
The total has gone over in seven out of the nine games Milwaukee has played this season while the over is 6-4 in Portland’s ten games played so far. The over is also 2-1 in the Bucks’ three road games and the over is also 4-2 in the Blazers’ six games at the Moda Center this season. Head to head though, the over is only 3-7 in the last 10 games between these two teams.
Teams have not put much premium on defense so far this season. But if we talk about stats, the Bucks are the 5th best defensive team in the NBA in points allowed. The Blazers aren’t far back at #7. Portland is coming off its best defensive effort of the season against the Wolves. The Blazers have held three out of their last five opponents to 93 points or fewer. Prediction: Under 229