Fans of offense should stay up late for the April 2nd Bucks at Trail Blazers matchup considering oddsmakers have set the betting total at 240. Is that huge number a result of great offenses, bad defenses, or a little bit of both?
Both sides come into Friday’s meeting at the Moda Center on different momentum streaks. The Bucks did score a win last time out to halt a three game losing streak, but it came against the shorthanded Lakers. On that same token Portland has won four straight and all on the road – but the last three have come against Orlando, Toronto, and Detroit who are in the bottom 1/3 of the East.
Bucks Favored By 3, Should They Be?
Oddsmakers could have very easily called the April 2nd Bucks at Trail Blazers game a PK. Instead Milwaukee is a -3 favorite which could very well be an example of setting the bait. Portland has won four straight, yet are still home ‘dogs? Especially against a Bucks team that has lost by 8 at home to Boston, 6 at home to the Knicks, and by 24 at the Clippers before beating the Lakers on Wednesday.
Of course it’s not like the Bucks are some Eastern Conference bottom feeder, and Portland’s recent successful road trip was predicated on beating up on some pretty poor quality teams. There are also reasons to think Milwaukee giving only 3 is a steal, most notably Portland’s 29th ranked defense in efficiency.
Some other good news for Milwaukee is that Giannis Antetokounmpo seems to have gotten over a tricky ankle that held him to 16 points or less in two matchups with the Celtics last week and forced him to sit out the loss to New York. Antetokounmpo has bounced back to average 28.5 ppg the last two. Jrue Holiday is also averaging 26 ppg the last two, and he gets the Trail Blazers’ #25 defense vs. the PG in this spot.
Portland Welcomes the Challenge
Some will say that the Trail Blazers recent win streak was built upon beating up soft teams, but you can only play who is put in front of you. Plus, their road trip started off with a win over the 5th seed Heat, and they’ve taken care of business in beating Orlando by 7, Toronto by 5, and Detroit by 23.
Remember, it’s not easy for West Coast teams to travel out East, regardless of the opponent. Plus the recent schedule has been almost perfect for welcoming Norman Powell to the team from Toronto, and trying to integrate Jusuf Nurkic back into the rotation after returning from an injury. Now the Trail Blazers are more familiar with each other, have a little momentum from the win streak, and are back at home for the first time in 10 days. Portland is 14-9 at the Moda Center this year.
Portland seems to match up well with the Bucks. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum can cancel out any scoring from Antetokounmpo and Holiday, while Powell and Khris Middleton are very similar players as well. If anything, the Trail Blazers have more depth when they can bang Nurkic against Brook Lopez, only to have Enes Kanter come off the bench and dominate Milwaukee’s 2nd unit. Having a scorer like Carmelo Anthony off the bench never hurts Portland either.
Free April 2nd Bucks at Trail Blazers Pick
You kind of have to read beyond the line in this one, because it doesn’t seem like Milwaukee should be favored here. That would mean Portland comes out flat in their first home game in awhile – but how could they? 61% of the public likes the Bucks as the 2nd most popular pick of the night. It’s very well possible that I overvalue Portland, but that’s the way I’m headed.
Trail Blazers 129 – Bucks 128
Pick: Trail Blazers +3