Trail Blazers at Bucks Picks and NBA Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 3/19/2013
I'll be honest in that I thought the Miami Heat's epic winning streak was going to end Friday night in Milwaukee as the Bucks generally have given the Heat trouble since LeBron James arrived in South Beach. Well, that didn't happen, and it probably gave Milwaukee a heightened sense of urgency. Why? The Bucks are currently No. 8 in the Eastern Conference. They aren't going to give up that last playoff spot but very much need to catch Chicago or Boston right ahead of them -- otherwise the Bucks will have a short postseason as they would have to face Miami in the first round. Milwaukee enters this week three games behind the No. 6 Bulls and No. 7 Celtics.
Portland, meanwhile, is No. 10 in the West and 3.5 games behind the No. 8 Lakers. The Blazers are a playoff-caliber team at home with a 22-11 mark but are pretty lousy on the road at 9-23. Portland played in Philadelphia on Monday night to begin a five-game road trip. The Blazers entered that game off back-to-back easy wins (and covers) over New York and Detroit. Their schedule is a beast the rest of the way with 14 of their remaining 17 games against current playoff teams, so I wouldn't expect to see Portland playing playoff basketball.
Trail Blazers at Bucks Betting Story Lines
The Bucks aren't a great defensive team despite having a stud shot blocker in Larry Sanders (he leads the league at 3.07 per game). They have allowed triple-digit points in nine of the past 10 games. Milwaukee did end a three-game losing streak on Sunday in beating putrid Orlando, 115-109. The Bucks were down 13 entering the fourth quarter, and then Monta Ellis went crazy. He scored 25 of his season-high 39 points in that quarter as the Bucks put up 45. It was the most points in any quarter by an NBA player this season and the most fourth-quarter points by any player since early in the 2009 season when Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki had 29 vs. Utah. Ellis is averaging 26.4 points on 53.2 percent shooting this month, although he was held to seven in that loss to Miami. The Bucks have won 13 games this year when trailing by at least 10 points. They've also lost 12 games when ahead by at least 10.
Ersan Ilyasova also had a big game with 20 points and 11 rebounds against the Magic -- his third straight double-double -- but he's got a sore back and hip and likely will sit this one out. For sure out is forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, as he has turf toe. Marquis Daniels has been starting at small forward in his absence.
The Blazers entered Monday having lost eight of their past nine on the road. That one win, oddly enough, came at San Antonio. LaMarcus Aldridge had one of his best games of the season in Saturday's win over Detroit with 31 points and 12 rebounds. He, LeBron James and Kevin Durant are the only three players in the NBA with at least 1,300 points and 500 rebounds this season. Aldridge was the Western Conference Player of the Week last week. Aldridge joins Clyde Drexler and Brandon Roy as the only Blazers to win that award more than once. Meanwhile, it appears that Damian Lillard is past that proverbial rookie wall. He's averaging 23.6 points on 51.5 percent from the field this month along with 7.0 assists. The Rookie of the Year race is over.
Milwaukee beat Portland 110-104 at the Rose Garden on Jan. 19 as a 4.5-point underdog (total 196). Ilyasova led the Bucks with 27 points and 14 rebounds. Brandon Jennings added 30 for Milwaukee. Of course, that was before the trade deadline, at which the Bucks got J.J. Redick. He's averaging about two points less than he did with Orlando. Lillard had 26 points and 10 assists in the loss. The Blazers got just 15 points from their bench and were 8-for-28 from long range. Milwaukee led by 22 in the third quarter and 16 with 3:45 left before Portland made a late run.
Trail Blazers at Bucks NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, the Bucks were opened as four-point favorites with the total at 208. Portland (all trends entering Monday) is 30-32-3 ATS (13-19 on road) and 36-28-1 “over/under” (18-14 on road). Milwaukee is 30-35 ATS (12-22 at home) and 32-31-2 O/U (17-15-1 at home).
Portland is 0-4 ATS in its past four Tuesday games. Blazers have covered four straight vs. the East. The Bucks are 1-8 ATS in their last nine home games vs. a team with a losing road record. They are 0-8 ATS in their last eight games playing on one day of rest. The over is 6-0 in Portland's past six Tuesday games. The over is 5-1 in the Bucks' past six Tuesday games.
Trail Blazers at Bucks Picks and Betting Predictions
While Portland has won three of the past five trips to Milwaukee, the Bucks are looking for their first four-game winning streak in this series since 1985 & '86. The winning team in this series has scored at least 100 points in four straight meetings and in nine of the last 11 meetings. Milwaukee has no right losing this game. Take the Bucks and the over.
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