Milwaukee (27-4) enters with the best record in the NBA after blitzing through the early part of their schedule with relative ease. Giannis Antetokounmpo is 2nd in the league with 31.0 points and 6th with 12.9 rebounds per game. The team’s leading assist-getter, Eric Bledsoe, continues to be sidelined with a fractured right fibula. The Bucks are now featuring a re-tooled backcourt with the emergence of Wesley Matthews who tied a season-high with 19 points in Sunday’s win over the Pacers.
Philadelphia (22-10) has won two straight, scoring 125 points in each game. The Sixers are excelling at taking efficient shots this season, ranking 3rd in the NBA with a 47.6 field-goal percentage. Philly’s offense is led by Joel Embiid who has team-high with 23.0 points and 12.6 rebounds per game. Ben Simmons recorded 17 assists and earned his 24th career triple-double in the Sixers’ last game, a 125-109 win over the Pistons on Monday.
ESPN’s FPI gives the Bucks a 62.6% chance of winning this game. We break down the line and offer our best bets and analysis for the Christmas Day matchup between the Bucks and Sixers.
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Bucks vs. Sixers Game Details
Date: Wednesday, December 25
Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
Location: Wells Fargo Center (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Spread: Sixers -1
This line opened at Sixers -1 and has been bet up to Bucks -2.5 with the large majority of the bets and money coming in on Milwaukee. This line is correlated with the action and is moving with the market.
- Bucks are 27-4 SU and 18-13 ATS this season
- Sixers are 22-10 SU and 14-15-3 ATS this season
- Under is 15-15-1 in Bucks games this season
- Over is 16-15-1 in Sixers games this season
Analysis & Picks
The line here is very telling. Despite having the best record in the NBA, looking almost unbeatable at times, the Bucks opened as a slight underdog on this Christmas Day matchup in Philadelphia. That tells me the books think this is going to be a very evenly matched game featuring two teams with Finals aspirations. Another trend to keep an eye on, the favorites are 8-2 ATS on Christmas Day the last two seasons. There does seem to be a distinct advantage to playing a home game on this day, which is why I like Philly in this spot. Another reason, the lack of a zone defense from Milwaukee. During the Sixers’ recent three-game losing streak, teams were employing a zone defense against them, to try and isolate Philly’s lack of perimeter offense. It worked very well, as the Sixers averaged just 97.0 points per game during the skid. The Bucks have not shown any zone defense looks so far this season. It’s not totally out of the question that head coach Mike Budenholzer could install such a scheme during the team’s practice sessions, but that’s unlikely. I’ll trust my guy and back the oddsmakers here in capping this game correctly.
PICK: Sixers +2.5
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith