Phoenix Suns (-3.5, 209 o/u) at Milwaukee Bucks
There’s no doubt the Milwaukee Bucks (18-17, 7-7 home) have been one of the major surprises in the first half of the NBA season. However, the young squad did take a major hit three weeks ago when rookie Jabari Parker (12.3 PPG) went down with a torn ACL.
Without Parker, Bucks head coach Jason Kidd will need to extract even more from his already over-achieving team. Kidd got exactly that last game when Milwaukee beat the Knicks, 95-82, in New York. That night, the Bucks were led by the unlikely pair of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zaza Pachulia, who combined for 32 points and 26 boards (about 12 points and 13 rebounds above their cumulative season average).
“We play hard, and we’re a team not built on one guy,” Kidd said. “We’re built on everybody doing their job and understanding their role and doing it as hard as they can.”
Next up for the Bucks is a visit from the Phoenix Suns (20-16, 11-9 away), who have been hot of late winning eight of their last ten games. The Jeff Hornacek-led squad has averaged more than 114 points during the stretch, including an impressive 125-109 win over the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors
“They had their foot on the gas the whole game,” Hornacek said of his team. “If they play like that, they’re going to win a ton of games.”
Suns guard Eric Bledsoe scored 20 points in the win. But, as usual, it was a great collective effort that got Phoenix the W. As a team, the Suns shot nearly 54% from the floor against Toronto.
“I think that was the most complete game that we’ve had this season,” said Goran Dragic. “We were focused from the first minute to the last minute of the game, offense and defense.”
One of the strengths of the Suns is that a number of different players can step up on any given night. Phoenix has five players averaging over 14 points per game, but none averaging more than 17. Over the last seven games, Dragic has led the charge, averaging more than 19 points; and guard Isaiah Thomas has been scalding hot over the last three, averaging 25.0 PPG and 58.5% shooting.
Even though the Suns are 22-14-0 O/U on the season, the Bucks are 15-20-0 O/U. That’s why Milwaukee and the under (209) is the play.
(Photo credit: Joseph Glorioso Photography (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode].)