The Milwaukee Bucks, the NBA’s second-hottest team right now, heads to New Orleans on Tuesday night for a showdown with the Pelicans. The Bucks are red-hot right now and have been for most of the season. They come in with only seven losses on the season and are 9-1 in their last 10 games. The loss came at the hands of the Denver Nuggets on Milwaukee’s home floor last Friday.
Over their last six games, the Pelicans are 3-3, which means that with Zion Williamson in the lineup, although his minutes are being restricted, New Orleans is .500. If nothing else, you could say that at least the Pelicans have been must-see TV since he’s been in the lineup.
New Orleans is 20-30 overall this season and trails Memphis by five games for the eighth spot in the Western Conference. Here’s our betting preview for this key game for both teams.
Buck Up or Shut Up
Milwaukee has hands down been the best team in the NBA this season. Whether you’re looking at the Bucks’ overall record of 42-7 or checking their statistics on the season, it’s very apparent they’ve outplayed the rest of the league so far, including the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers trail the Bucks by five wins on the season.
George Hill and Frank Mason are the only two Bucks on the injury report for Tuesday night’s matchup. Both were ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Suns. While Mason has only played in four games this season, Hill averages 21.1 minutes, 9.7 points, three rebounds and three assists per game.
The Bucks have been led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who’s been even more of a freak of nature this season. The reigning NBA Most Valuable Player is putting up 30 points, 13.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.1 steals per game.
The Bucks lead the league in points per game, scoring margin, shooting and true shooting percentage, fast-break points, and a ton of other stats. It’s not hard to see why they’ve only lost seven games this season.
Headlines and Heartbreaks
Now that the New Orleans Saints season is done, and Williamson is on the floor after missing the first half of the season, the Pelicans are finally starting to get some headlines in their hometown. While Williamson hasn’t propelled the team to six straight wins in his return, the Pelicans are a completely different squad with him on the floor.
Williamson is averaging over 18 points and eight boards since his return, not to mention he already has several plays that will end up on his highlight reel. This includes 17 straight points in his debut against the Spurs.
He even seems to affect facets of the game that he doesn’t have a direct hand in. Check out the numbers with and without Williamson for the Pelicans this season.
Before his return (44 games):
- Points per game: 114.4
- Opponents’ points per game: 117.6
- Field-goal percentage: .454
- Three-point field-goal percentage: .370
- Rebounds per game: 45.9
- Assists per game: 25.5
- Blocks per game: 5.2
- Turnovers per game: 17.5
Since his return (six games):
- Points per game: 119.8
- Opponents’ points per game: 113.5
- Field-goal percentage: .488
- Three-point field-goal percentage: .400
- Rebounds per game: 50.2
- Assists per game: 26.8
- Blocks per game: 6.0
- Turnovers per game: 15.1
Small sample size or not, he makes quite the difference for this team.
Betting With Zion in Play
Using the Pelicans’ record against the spread this season may not do them justice since Williamson has been out for 44 games of it, so we’ll break it down both ways. They are 25-23-2 against the spread as a unit and are 3-3 with Williamson in the lineup.
Milwaukee isn’t as impressive against the spread as it is against actual opponents. The Bucks come in 27-22 on the season. They are 6-4 against the spread in their last 10 games. The Bucks are favored by 6.5 points in this one, with the over/under at 244.5.