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Shorthanded Bucks Look to Ground High-Flying Rockets Attack

Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks, right, heads to the basket past Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics during the first half of an NBA basketball game.

The league-leading Bucks opened as just four-point favorites against a Rockets squad that torched the Mavericks for 151 points in their NBA Restart opener on Friday. Milwaukee has covered five of the last six meetings.

Milwaukee Bucks vs Houston Rockets
  • Date/Time: August 2, 8:30 p.m. ET
  • Stadium: The Arena (WWOS)
  • TV Coverage: ABC
  • Opening Odds: Bucks -4 | O/U 241.5 (Line History)
  • Bucks vs Rockets Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

If Milwaukee closes as favorites of four points or less, it’ll be just the fifth time this year they’ve been favored by that small of a spread — but also the second game in a row. The Bucks have struggled as short favorites over the last two years, losing SU in six of their last eight games when favored by four or less.

Milwaukee News & Notes

The Bucks might not have been at their best on Friday, but they still found a way to cover yet another point spread. After Boston fought back from a 15-point deficit to tie the game late in regulation, Milwaukee outscored the Celtics 9-2 the rest of the way to win 119-112 as 3.5-point favorites and improve to 37-29 ATS on the campaign.

Even without forward Marvin Williams and guards Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton, coach Mike Budenholzer continued to spread out the floor time. Ten different Bucks saw at least 14 minutes of action and scored at least three points, while Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton played just 33 and 32 minutes, respectively. Bledsoe and Connaughton have already been ruled out again for Sunday’s contest as they continue to work themselves back into shape after testing positive for coronavirus, but Williams is expected to return.

Houston News & Notes

As poorly as the Rockets played defensively in Friday’s wild 153-149 OT win over the Mavericks, Houston managed to tighten up when things mattered most. After getting lit up for 85 points in the opening half, the Rockets held Dallas to just 64 points the rest of the way — and just 18 in the final seven minutes of regulation and five of overtime. Coach Mike D’Antoni attributed the improvement to better communication on switches, although Houston’s small lineup will still need to find a way to grab more rebounds after allowing 24 second-chance points against the Mavs.

Offensively, the Rockets were no worse for wear Friday despite the absence of guard Eric Gordon, who remains sidelined with a sprained left ankle. James Harden scored 49 points and Russell Westbrook showed no ill effects from recently recovering from COVID-19 in a 31-point performance. Houston didn’t simply rely on the three-point line either: the Rockets outscored Dallas 64-44 in the paint and 20-7 off the fast break.

Betting Pick: Bucks -4

Milwaukee’s league-leading rebounding should generate plenty of second-chance opportunities against an undersized Rockets squad that allowed 13 offensive rebounds Friday against the Mavs.

Shark Bites
  • The Rockets are 14-6 ATS in their last 20 as an underdog.
  • The Bucks are 5-1 ATS in their last six games against the Rockets.
  • The total has gone UNDER in the Bucks’ last four games against the Rockets.