The Bucks and 76ers both have relatively empty injury reports, so both starting lineups should be at full strength entering this matchup. This game has significant seeding implications for the Eastern Conference playoffs and it could be a preview of a 2nd or 3rd round playoff series. It should have a playoff-like atmosphere.
In such a critical matchup, there is a lot to consider when making best bet picks and the betting prediction for this game.
Read on for in-depth analysis of tonight’s 76ers vs. Bucks matchup.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Milwaukee Bucks Betting Odds
The Bucks opened with -4.5 odds against the spread, and that line has been as high as -5.5 and was at -5 as of this writing. The Bucks are getting -190 odds on the moneyline while the 76ers are at +160.
These odds are nearly identical to the closing odds when these teams met in Milwaukee almost exactly one month ago, a game the 76ers won 133-130.
Public sentiment is split on this matchup, with the 76ers getting just over 50% of the handle against the spread at DraftKings, per VSiN. The Bucks are getting more action on the moneyline with 66% of the money at DraftKings.
The over/under for this matchup opened at 234.5 and is up to 236.5 as of this writing. That line could get juiced up another point or two before kickoff, as the public is hammering the over with 70% of the money. Considering these teams scored 263 combined points a month ago, it’s not surprising that lines and the betting trends are moving in that direction.
The implied outcome of these odds is the Bucks winning 121-115.5.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Milwaukee Bucks Prediction
My pick: 76ers +5.5, Over 236.5
The last time the Milwaukee Bucks took the court, they were getting embarrassed by one of their top competitors in the Eastern Conference. The 2nd seeded Boston Celtics went into Milwaukee and trounced the top-seeded Bucks by 41 points.
Now the Bucks have an opportunity to bounce back against another top Eastern Conference contender in the 76ers. Milwaukee holds just a 1.5-game lead over Boston for the #1 seed with five games left to play this season, while the 76ers sit 2.5 games behind Boston in the three seed.
The 76ers’ playoff seeding is unlikely to change at this point, as the Celtics essentially have a 3.5-game lead since they own the tiebreaker, and Cleveland trails Philadelphia by 3.5 games (4.5 when considering the tiebreaker). For Philadelphia, this game is less about playoff seeding and more about building momentum entering the playoffs.
In the three previous matchups between these teams this season, Philadelphia is 2-1 straight-up and 2-1 against the spread, and the average margin of victory has been 4.33 points. Milwaukee’s win also came in the second game of the season, as the 76ers struggled out of the gate.
After a slow start, Philadelphia has been a significantly better team since December 1, and was especially good in the month of March. They led the NBA with 12 wins (tied with Memphis) and an offensive rating of 123.5 and were 2nd in net rating at 8.1.
Those numbers might look even better if not for a three-game losing streak late in the month that coincided with James Harden missing four games with a sore Achilles.
Considering how tight these teams have played each other this season and the way both teams have looked recently, I have to take the points and back the 76ers. My biggest hesitation with that pick is knowing that Milwaukee has more to play for and they will be motivated to play better after their terrible performance against Boston. I may be tempted to pick the 76ers on the moneyline if not for those factors.
I also like the over in the game. As we will get into more below, Milwaukee has struggled defensively over their last few games, especially when guarding the perimeter. Philadelphia has been arguably the best offense in basketball over the last month, and they lead the league in three-point shooting percentage at 38.8%.
I like that combination to lead to efficient scoring and a relatively fast-paced game, which will push the total over 236.5.
- The Bucks are 1-5 ATS in their last six home games.
- The Bucks are 1-8 ATS in their last nine games against teams with a winning percentage above .600.
- The Under is 5-2 in the 76ers last seven games, while the Over is 4-1 in the Bucks’ last five games.
This game features a marquee matchup between two of the top contenders for the NBA MVP award. The performances of those two stars will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game, but the 76ers’ hot three-point shooting might be the biggest factor.
Milwaukee’s perimeter defense vs. Philadelphia’s three-point shooting
Milwaukee is in a bit of a slump defensively over their last four games. Although they have been one of the league’s best defenses for most of the season and own the 3rd best defensive rating at 110.6, that number has spiked to 127.3 over their last four games (3rd worst in that span).
The biggest difference has been their perimeter defense, specifically guarding the three-point line. For the season, Milwaukee is allowing 11.7 made threes per 100 possessions (tied for 4th) on 35.2% shooting (8th). Over the last four games, they have allowed 14 made threes (4th worst) on 43.6% shooting (dead last).
That may be a small sample size, but it still raises some red flags as they get set to face a hot-shooting 76ers team. Philadelphia improved on its league-leading three-point shooting percentage by posting a 40.4% mark in the month of March.
The 76ers made 18 three-pointers on 48.6% shooting when these teams last met. The Bucks actually matched that figure with 17 threes on 50% shooting. The team that wins this battle in this contest will have a big edge in the final outcome.
MVP Battle: Embiid vs. Giannis
Marquee matchups like this one, especially this late in the season, can have a disproportionate effect on voting for NBA awards like the Most Valuable Player. The battle for the 2023 NBA MVP is shaping up to be one of the closest MVP races in NBA history, and this game features the current favorite and two of the top three candidates.
ESPN's NBA MVP straw poll 3.0 was released this morning and Joel Embiid is the new frontrunner:
Joel Embiid – 790 total points
Nikola Jokic – 788 total points
Giannis Antetokounmpo – 612 total points
It's insanely close. pic.twitter.com/9tzGGRq5T3
— SPORTSRADIO 94WIP (@SportsRadioWIP) March 30, 2023
The performances by Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo in this game could go a long way in determining the winner of this year’s MVP award. While Giannis is currently a distant third according to the odds and the latest ESPN straw poll (which has been a reliable predictor of the award in years past), there is still a realistic chance he could end up winning the award for the third time in his career.
At the end of the day, Antetokounmpo is still the best player on the team with the best record in the league, and that combination often leads to MVP awards.
Needless to say, Embiid and Antetokounmpo are MVP candidates for a reason, and their teams will need them to play like MVPs to win this tightly contested matchup.
Philadelphia 76ers Starting Lineups
Milwaukee Bucks Starting Lineups
Philadelphia 76ers Injuries: None
Milwaukee Bucks Injuries: SG Jevon Carter (Q – knee), SF Thanasis Antetokounmpo (O – suspension), C Meyers Leonard (O – calf)