Welcome to the Tuesday, March 26 edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one NBA bet for tonight I feel has profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sportsbook, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
Season to Date:
ATS Leans/Picks: 49-38-1 (.563)
Moneyline: 29-9 (.763)
Over/Under: 28-15-1 (.651)
3/26/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Houston Rockets (47-27) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (55-19)
We’re treated to a late-season interconference battle of juggernauts Tuesday when the Rockets visit the Bucks in a nationally televised clash. What makes it all the more enticing is that both squads come into the contest running hot and building up steam for the postseason. And two of the NBA’s brightest stars, James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo, check in about as healthy as can be at this point in the season.
Only a one-point overtime loss to the Grizzlies three games ago separates Houston from a six-game winning streak. Plus, they’ve won a whopping 14 of their last 16 games overall. Then, Milwaukee has notched wins in three of its last four games, and in seven of its last 10 overall. The Bucks have been especially dominant on their Fiserv Forum floor all season. They own a 30-6 home record. That ties them with the Nuggets for best home mark in the NBA.
Milwaukee has naturally built that record on the back of excellent home metrics. To begin with, no team has averaged more points per game (120.0) on its home floor than the Bucks. And, Milwaukee is allowing the seventh-fewest points per game (106.7) at home as well. There’s also some strong shooting metrics on either side of the ball helping comprise those figures. For starters, the Bucks own the third-highest home shooting percentage (48.5), including a solid 36.0 percent success rate from distance.
They complement that by making life extremely difficult on opposing shooters at Fiserv. Milwaukee yields the second-lowest home shooting percentage (43.1) in the league. They also present as a bad positional matchup on paper for the Rockets’ most important offensive pieces. The Bucks check in allowing a bottom-five or bottom-10 offensive efficiency rating to point guards (23.1), shooting guards (19.9) and centers (30.5).
As those dominant all-around numbers imply, the Bucks have also often won by solid margins at Fiserv. Notably, Milwaukee is an outstanding 28-2 (93.3 percent) against Tuesday’s four-point spread in their 30 home wins this season. That sample includes victories over the likes of the Heat (by 29 and by 38), the Pacers (by 19 and by 17), the Jazz (by 12), the Pistons (by 23 twice), the Nets (by 14), the Spurs (by six), the Trail Blazers (by 43), the Nuggets (by six), the Kings (by 35), the Raptors (by 15) and the 76ers (by 15) in terms of playoff-contending squads.
Then, the Rockets haven’t been quite the same team when traveling as they are on their Toyota Center home floor. Houston is nearly as dominant a home squad as Milwaukee. That’s evidenced by their 27-10 record at Toyota. But, they’re just 20-17 outside of their home court. There’s notable disparity offensively between home and the road for the Rockets. Houston averages 110.4 points per away contest, compared to 115.9 at home. And the Rockets’ 44.6 percent shooting on the road qualifies as the sixth-lowest figure in the league in that category.
Granted, Houston does have road wins over some tough squads, especially lately. But when they’ve lost on the road, as they’re predicted by the oddsmakers to do Tuesday, they’ve often lost by larger margins than four points. In fact, the Rockets own a 4-12-1 mark (25.0 percent) versus Tuesday’s spread in their 17 road losses this season. Four of those 12 times they’ve lost by more than four points and the one push came in interconference games like the one they’ll play Tuesday.
Finally, it’s worth noting the Bucks already own a seven-point win against the Rockets this season in their one prior meeting. What’s more, that game unfolded on the Houston’s home floor. Chris Paul did miss that contest for Houston, and his presence Tuesday will naturally make a difference. But, the defense Milwaukee played on both Harden and Clint Capela can’t be understated. The Bucks forced Harden into 13-for-30 shooting while limiting Capela to a 4-for-16 tally from the floor. Both players significantly built up their final lines that night with double-digit free-throw attempts.
Houston also had no answer for Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak turned in a 27-point, 21-rebound double-double that also included five assists and one steal. And while the Bucks will continue to be without Malcolm Brogdon (foot) on Tuesday — an absence that’s particularly relevant considering he tallied 24 points versus the Rockets in the prior meeting — Houston will potentially be missing up to two key complementary pieces. First, Gerald Green (16 points off bench in prior game vs. Bucks) is already confirmed out with an adductor injury. Then, Eric Gordon, who’s been drawing starts at small forward, is very questionable with a sprained ankle he suffered in Sunday’s win over the Pelicans.
By The Numbers
The Rockets are 34-37-3 (47.9 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 15-21-1 mark (41.7 percent) as a road team. Houston is also 22-22-2 (50.0 percent) versus the number in games following a win and 13-14-1 (48.1 percent) against the spread in non-conference games.
Then, the Bucks are 44-27-3 (NBA-best 62.0 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 22-13-1 mark (62.9 percent) as a home team and a 21-13-1 tally (61.8 percent) specifically as a home favorite. Milwaukee is also 28-23-3 (54.9 percent) versus the number in games following a win and 30-15 (66.7 percent) against the spread in games they’ve played with one day of rest.
Finally, the one prior meeting between the teams this season resulted in a seven-point victory for the Bucks in the Rockets’ home floor of Toyota Center.
The Final Word
This is essentially the marquee matchup of the night, and both teams still have something to play for here in terms of playoff positioning. The Rockets also come in banged up at the small forward position, as alluded to earlier. The Bucks have simply been a dominant home squad all season and the spread here is particularly modest. As such, despite what should be a competitive game, I envision Milwaukee pulling away just enough late to secure the cover on their way to victory.
The Pick: Bucks -4, Bucks moneyline