The New York Knicks are coming out of the All-Star break in a playoff position for the first time in god knows how long, but they still can’t get any respect, as evidenced by the double-digit spread the Bucks are being given for this Eastern Conference tilt. The Knicks are currently sitting just three and a half games back of Milwaukee, so can they prove they belong there—or maybe even higher—with a strong showing on Thursday night?
Free Picks: Milwaukee Bucks vs. New York Knicks
Knicks Look To Earn Respect Against Top Eastern Conference Team (Season Betting Record: 55-55)
Part of the reason for the spread being as high as it is could be that the Bucks have utterly dominated the Knicks over the past few years. Milwaukee had won eight of nine meetings before this season, but they were 20’d by this new-look Knicks team early in this campaign. Tom Thibodeau has turned what is usually a laughably disorganized group into a well-oiled machine that has become one of the NBA’s elite defensive units, not to mention a top team in the East.
The Knicks have been solid away from Madison Square Garden, putting up an 8-6 record against the spread as the away team this season. New York is 4-2 ATS in their last six games as the underdog, while Milwaukee has struggled to cover the spread recently, doing so in just four of their last dozen contests. The Bucks are also just 1-4 ATS in their last five against teams with winning records, which, believe it or not, the Knicks are.
An 11.5 NBA point spread is extremely hefty when we’re talking about two of the top five teams in the Eastern Conference, and with the size New York has down low, they’re pretty well-matched with Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo-led attack. We love the Knicks to prove their mettle and cover their +11.5 spread at -118 NBA odds as one of our top picks for Thursday night.
It’s a classic offense versus defense matchup, with a Knicks group that has allowed opponents 104.4 points per game this season, tops in the NBA, and a Bucks squad that is scoring 118.8 points per game, good for second in the association, going head to head.
The Knicks have been especially stingy on the road, with only five of their 19 road games going over the total so far this season. The under is also 7-3 when the Knicks are away underdogs of 7.5 points or more, and the under is 6-7-1 in the opposite scenario for the Bucks. The total has also gone under in five of New York’s eight games against the top eight teams in the East so far this season.
These teams combined to go over a 222.5 total—the same number for Thursday night’s clash—in their previous matchup back in December, but with both teams well-rested coming out of the All-Star break, we’d expect some solid defense from both sides to keep the total down. Our second NBA pick for this matchup will be the under on the 222.5 point total at -111 NBA odds.
The player we’d be looking out for during this game is Julius Randle. The 26-year-old just played in the first All-Star Game of his career and will surely be coming into the second half of the season on a personal high. I would also expect that with that double-digit spread, the chip on his shoulder will be even bigger than usual when he steps into Fiserv Forum.
He has been averaging career highs nearly across the board this season, and he was on a bit of a tear right before the break, having scored 25+ points in seven of his past nine games. With his player prop at 23.5 points, we like the over at -120 NBA odds as the third and final of our NBA picks here.
- The under is 14-5 this season when New York is on the road
- The under is 3-0 in Milwaukee’s last 3 games
- Milwaukee is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 against teams with winning records
- Julius Randle has scored 25+ in 7 of his past 9 games
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The Los Angeles Clippers will renew hostilities with the Dallas Mavericks, who they dispatched in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
The Denver Nuggets and the league’s presumptive NBA MVP will look to get off to a strong start against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1.
The Golden State Warriors will host the Memphis Grizzlies in the final play-in game, which will determine the Western Conference’s eighth seed.
The Washington Wizards will host the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night with the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference on the line.
Alex is an alumnus of Ryerson University's RTA Sport Media program, a contributing NHL, NBA, and MLB writer in the BetPicks.ca team. He has been writing on sports, betting, and fantasy contests for several years, including pitstops as an NFL Editor for theScore and as one of the lead NBA news writers for fantasy sports site FantasyPros. As a lifelong athlete, bettor, and sports fan, Alex is uniquely qualified to help you reach the sports betting success that you've always dreamed of and your wife never believed you could achieve.