76ers vs. Bucks: Back Milwaukee at Home

Action Network betting analyst Chris Baker previews tonight's matchup with his 76ers vs Bucks prediction and picks on NBA on TNT.

76ers vs. Bucks Odds

76ers Odds +6
Bucks Odds -6
Moneyline +195 / -240
Over/Under 228
Time Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

A potential Eastern Conference finals matchup is here, and so is our 76ers vs Bucks prediction and picks today for NBA on TNT Thursday.

Will the 76ers be able to travel into Milwaukee and pull off an upset without James Harden? Or, will the new-look Bucks dominate a short-handed Philadelphia team now that Damian Lillard is in the fold?

Let’s preview Sixers vs Bucks with our 76ers vs Bucks prediction and picks and discuss how to bet the NBA on TNT.

The 76ers are running it back with pretty much the same roster they had a season ago. There are a few new bench additions in Kelly Oubre Jr. and Patrick Beverley, but those guys aren’t exactly needle movers.

Without Harden, we should expect to see more minutes for De’Anthony Melton and Beverley. This will bolster the 76ers perimeter defense, but limit their half-court offense. Defensively, expect those two to spend the bulk of their time chasing Damian Lillard around.

Offensively, we should see Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey soak up the majority of usage. Embiid will have a difficult matchup with Defensive Player of the Year candidate Brook Lopez guarding him. Lopez has the strength, length and IQ to contest Embiid without getting baited into his flopping antics.

I also expect the Bucks to help Lopez out a lot given the lack of perimeter threats on the 76ers. Embiid will often share the court with Beverley, PJ Tucker, Melton and Oubre — all guys Milwaukee can cheat off of to protect the rim. I think the 76ers will struggle to generate great shots, but I do like the outlook for Maxey.

Maxey is the obvious beneficiary of Harden’s absence in terms of usage, but I also like this specific matchup for him. The Bucks traded Jrue Holiday for Lillard in the summer, but the less talked departure of Jevon Carter was also impactful. Milwaukee lost its two best on-ball guard defenders and basically has no elite on-ball guard defenders left. Malik Beasley is likely the Bucks’ best defender and he is average at best.

Additionally, the Bucks ranked ninth in pace last year. As a result, Maxey’s points and assists line at over 26.5 (-115) is something I will likely look to play.

The Bucks have the clear talent edge here as they have more guys who can play both ends of the floor. The 76ers have a lot of players that are liabilities on the offensive end, the Bucks do not. Pretty much everyone in the Bucks lineup, outside of Giannis Antetokounmpo, needs to be respected from the perimeter. That is going to open up driving lanes for Lillard and Antetokounmpo and force the 76ers into long rotations.

Lopez should be able to stretch Embiid out of the paint and open up space for Lillard, Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton to operate. The Bucks may have some rust early as they adjust to playing alongside Lillard, but I expect them to be figure it out over the course of the game. Defensively, they should have no issues outside of the Maxey mismatch discussed above.

76ers vs Bucks Picks, Odds

This line is on the move, with some books going all the way to Bucks -6.5. I thought the opener of Milwaukee -5.5 was a little short, so the movement makes sense. I price this more around -7/-7.5 with Harden absent. I think the books are expecting there to be an adjustment period for Lillard and Antetokounmpo, but you can make the same argument with Beverley and Oubre being inserted into the 76ers lineup. Ultimately, the talent disparity is too significant and I’m willing to fade a Philadelphia side that’s clearly in-flux given Harden’s drama. I’ll take the Bucks at -5.5 in their home opener and would play that to -6 (-110).

Pick: Bucks -5.5 | Play to -6