Los Angeles Clippers vs. Milwaukee Bucks Preview (2/2/23): Prediction, Starting Lineups, Odds

In a potential Finals preview, the Los Angeles Clippers (29-25) take on the Milwaukee Bucks (34-17). Marcus Morris is questionable and John Wall is out for Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Bobby Portis and Serge Ibaka will be unavailable for Milwaukee.

Which team will pick up a statement win? Odds, predictions, key matchups, and starting lineups are below.

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Milwaukee Bucks Betting Odds

The Bucks are a decent favorite as the spread is -3.5 with a -175 moneyline. For the Clippers’ +160 moneyline to be a profitable play, they must win here at least 39% of the time. The over under is set at 230.5, and it’s worth noting that the over is 6-2 in the last eight matchups between these squads.

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Milwaukee Bucks Prediction

3.5 is a tough line here, so I’m going with the following SGP (-120 DK):

  • Bucks Moneyline
  • Kawhi Leonard 20+ Points

Los Angeles runs far smoother as a half-court offense because they struggle to generate desirable transition opportunities. The Clippers half-court offense functions at its peak when they acquire plenty of three-point attempts to surround Leonard’s mid-range jumpers and Zubac’s touch around the basket. They subsequently threaten offense from every area of the court, which stretches out the defense.

This goal will be difficult against the Bucks, who rank 1st in half-court defense and allow the lowest quality three-point attempts in the NBA (per ShotQuality). Milwaukee does give up plenty of shots attacking the rim, but opponents struggle to convert because of Giannis and Lopez’s rim protection. Los Angeles is 29th in finishing at the rim frequency though, so it’s not an area they are comfortable exploiting.

Mid-range jumpers will be open, and Kawhi is primed for an effective outing as a result. However, it will be tough sledding for the other Clippers who rely on catch and shoot attempts around the arc.

On the other end, Milwaukee ranks 4th in 3PA and catch and shoot three-point frequency. Meanwhile, the Clippers are 30th in opponent open three rate and 25th in opponent catch and shoot three-point SQ points per possession (per ShotQuality). The Bucks should generate fantastic shots from deep, and it will be a matter of converting them at an expected rate. The Clippers defend the rim well though, and they have the personnel to slow down Giannis as much as possible.

Overall, I expect this to be a close contest with the Bucks three-point shooting leading them to a narrow victory. Milwaukee being at home is also a key factor here; they own a 7.5 Net Rating at home and a -3.1 Net Rating on the road. Kawhi 20+ points seems extremely likely given Milwaukee’s defensive tendencies and the fact that he is on a roll offensively (24+ in last 11 games).

Betting Trends

  • Clippers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall
  • Over is 16-5 in Clippers last 21 road games
  • Bucks are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS loss
  • Over is 13-4 in Bucks last 17 home games
  • Over is 6-2 in the last 8 meetings

Key Matchups

Which team will win the key matchups? Check out below for these vital battles.

Khris Middleton

Which Middleton will the Bucks receive? He didn’t hit the ground running after returning from injury in December, but his January was better. Middleton is on a minutes restriction currently (18-22 minutes) and coming off the bench. That may be a blessing in disguise considering the Clippers trot out a deep second unit. If Middleton provides a scoring spark and leads the Bucks bench to a push versus the Clippers bench, then the Bucks are in line to win this game.

Paul George

The Clippers need George to efficiently score off the dribble against a Bucks defense that limits catch and shoot opportunities. In addition, his playmaking is key because Los Angeles doesn’t start a traditional point guard or ball handler. If George can match Kawhi’s offensive production, then the Clippers will have a two-pronged attack that may be able to break through this Bucks defense and open up the court for teammates.

Los Angeles Clippers Starting Lineup

PG: Terance Mann
SG: Paul George
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Marcus Morris
C: Ivica Zubac

Milwaukee Bucks Starting Lineup

PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Grayson Allen
SF: Pat Connaughton
PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo
C: Brook Lopez

Key Injuries

Los Angeles Clippers Injuries: Marcus Morris (Q), John Wall (O)

Milwaukee Bucks Injuries: Giannis Antetokounmpo (P), Bobby Portis (O), MarJon Beauchamp (P), Serge Ibaka (O)

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2022 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs regarding analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions.

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