Bucks vs. Knicks: How to Bet the In-Season Tournament Matchup

Check out Action Network's Bucks vs Knicks betting preview with a full game breakdown, prediction and pick for the first game on tonight's ESPN doubleheader.

Knicks vs. Bucks Odds

Knicks Odds +5.5
Bucks Odds -5.5
Moneyline +184 / -200
Over/Under 223
Time Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Let’s preview Bucks-Knicks in the NBA In-Season Tournament with our expert Bucks vs Knicks prediction and picks tonight for Friday.

The Knicks and Bucks are in the same group as the Heat, Wizards and Hornets in the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament, which means this game between Milwaukee and New York could ultimately determine which team wins this group, given Miami’s rough start to the season.

Let’s get to our Bucks vs. Knicks prediction and pick for our in-season tournament best bet on Friday.

Bucks vs. Knicks Prediction, Best Bet

The Milwaukee Bucks shocked the NBA when they traded Jrue Holiday in a package for Damian Lillard, a move many expected to improve Milwaukee’s offense with one of the best two-man tandems in Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, this was not without cost as the Bucks’ defense has suffered without Holiday. Khris Middleton should join the offensive mix, but he’s been limited to start the season and has yet to play more than 17 minutes.

The Bucks also moved on from long time head coach Mike Budenholzer, who had a knack for creating nuanced defensive schemes. A new coach and some roster changes can definitely impact the early season results. Some of Milwaukee’s struggles have been magnified by significant losses, but this team still has elite offensive talent.

Through four games, the Bucks have a -6.6 Net Rating, but given the two blowouts they’ve suffered, that’s a bit misleading. Through those four games, the Bucks have allowed a league-worst 60.9% eFG%. It’s not exact, but even without Holiday on the floor last season, the Bucks only allowed an eFG% of 52.5%. The defensive downgrade from Holiday to Lillard is significant, but there’s definitely also some variance that hasn’t helped Milwaukee.

Opponents shouldn’t continue shooting 42% from 3 and 80% at the rim. Although, it it concerning that Milwaukee is allowing 38% of its opponents shots to come from 3-point range as the Bucks don’t have the backcourt personnel to defend that.

The Knicks are 2-3 and have yet to win (or lose) consecutive games. One of the Knicks’ strengths heading into the season was their continuity as they were able to keep the majority of their roster in tact. They also added Donte DiVincenzo for guard depth. DiVincenzo could be asked to play a larger role in this game if RJ Barrett (Knee – Questionable) is unable to go.

The Knicks have struggled offensively and have an Offensive Rating of just 103.8, which is 27th in the league, per NBA Advanced Stats. The Knicks have the worst eFG% in the league (47.2%) and although their expected eFG% isn’t much better (relative to league average), they should see a touch of improvement.

Randle has been a major issue. He’s commanding the highest Usage on the team (26.8%), but is scoring just 13.2 ppg on a paltry 0.742 points per shot attempt, well below the 1.18 mark he held last season. However, despite the scoring woes, he’s been valuable in other aspects. He’s averaging 10.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. His RA line is set at 12.5 for this game and I think that’s worth a look considering he cleared that line in all three matchups against Milwaukee last season and is averaging 13.9 this season.

One advantage the Knicks have in this matchup is that they score the majority of their points through their backcourt. Malik Beasley and Jae Crowder are decent on-ball defenders, but the rest of Milwaukee’s perimeter defense is a weakness at this point. The Knicks’ guards should be able to excel in this matchup and Jalen Brunson’s assists line (4.5) is enticing. He’s exceeded that in 70% of games over the past two seasons.

Bucks vs Knicks Odds, Pick

This game could ultimately decide this group for the In-Season Tournament and I expect the Knicks to put up a fight. Milwaukee has struggled to start the season and games have gotten away from the Bucks when they’ve gone cold. Antetokounmpo and Lillard are the two best players on the court in this matchup, but the Knicks’ continuity should give New York an edge.

Additionally, this is still a regular season game and I don’t expect the Bucks to experiment with different schemes considering they’ve struggled to implement their normal regular season game plan so far this season.

I’ll take the points with the Knicks, but I also think a small bet on them to Win the Group (+400) is worthwhile.

Pick: Knicks +5.5