Bucks vs Cavaliers: Back Milwaukee's Elite Offense

Joe Dellera breaks down his expert NBA pick and predictions for Bucks vs. Cavaliers on Wednesday, January 17.

Bucks vs. Cavaliers Odds

Bucks Odds -4
Cavaliers Odds +4
Moneyline -170 / +142
Over/Under 238
Time Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Milwaukee Bucks visit the Cleveland Cavaliers for their second contest this season. The Bucks captured a victory on December 29th 119-111 despite a 34-point performance from Donovan Mitchell. Will we see a repeat of last month’s matchup, or can the Cavaliers protect home court?

Let’s get to our Bucks vs. Cavaliers prediction and pick.

>> Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds, track your bets and follow all of our experts’ picks.

Bucks Offense Is Elite

The Milwaukee Bucks have an advantageous schedule spot with their last game being on Sunday and their next game on Saturday. No players are listed on the injury report, and Jae Crowder will be available after missing the last two months with an abdominal tear. Crowder averaged nearly 28 minutes per game in his eight full games before his injury, so he will provide an immediate boost.

On the season, the Bucks are 28-12, but they have been carried by their offense. The Bucks have the third-best Adjusted Offensive Rating (119.9), which helps to offset their 16th-ranked Adjusted Defensive Rating (116.5), per Dunks and Threes. They are elite at the rim and they have maintained strong shooting from beyond the arc.

On defense, the Bucks have allowed their opponents to take long-midrange shots at the highest frequency in the league. Ordinarily, this is a shot teams would want to allow; however, the Bucks are allowing their opponents to shoot 45.7% from midrange, the sixth-worst mark in the league, per Cleaning the Glass.

Stylistically, it’s a clash with the Cavs, who take the lowest frequency of midrange shots in the NBA but shoot above the league average when they do.

Mitchell Must Lead the Cavaliers

The Cavaliers continue to be without a number of their starters and will have to make do without Darius Garland (jaw) and Evan Mobley (knee) for this contest. They will also be without Ty Jerome (ankle), and Caris LeVert (wrist) is listed as questionable.

The Cavaliers have relied on elite defense this season as they have the fourth-best Adjusted Defensive Rating (112.1), per Dunks and Threes. However, the underlying shot profile that they have allowed is interesting. The Cavaliers have an allowed eFG% of 53.2%; however, their Expected allowed eFG% mark is 55.3%.

They allow their opponents to take a relatively high frequency of 3s but defend the 3-point line well and have the third-best FG% allowed at the rim, per Cleaning the Glass. Those are two areas the Bucks try to target on offense.

Donovan Mitchell is one player who should thrive in this matchup. He dropped 34 when these teams played in December and did that despite shooting just 2/10 from 3-point range. His points prop is set high at 33.5, but given Milwaukee’s struggles to defend lead guards, this matchup sets up Mitchell for a strong opportunity to score.

Bucks vs. Cavaliers Prediction

This matchup pits two teams against each other that clash in style. The Bucks dominate on offense while the Cavaliers live and die by their defense. Here, I expect the offense to win out.

When these teams last played, the Cavaliers struggled immensely from 3-point range; however, the Bucks got to the free throw line at will. That game seemingly was only close because Milwaukee surrendered 17 turnovers.

The Cavaliers have struggled against elite talent, and they are just 3-7 straight up against the top-10 teams in Point Differential compared to the Bucks, who are 5-2 with a +10.8 Net Rating against top-10 teams, per Cleaning the Glass.

The Bucks rise to the occasion against stronger opponents, and I expect them to take care of business in this spot as the healthier team with the better offense.

Pick: Bucks -4