Bucks vs. Knicks Preview: Keep Fading New York at Home

The Knicks return home on Sunday to face the Bucks, and Kenny Ducey expects their struggles at MSG to continue.

Bucks vs. Knicks Odds

Bucks Odds -5
Knicks Odds +5
Over/Under 215.5
Time 12 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Knicks and Bucks clash on Sunday in a game which couldn’t mean any more to New York. In the midst of a bad slump, a win would do wonders, but it not only has to deal with playing at home — where life has been miserable — it will have to do it without two key players. Does this open up some value on the Bucks? Let’s take a look.

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Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee has looked just the slightest bit vulnerable of late, dropping two of the last five after a massive winning streak and covering the spread just once in that period of time (in a 12-point win over Miami). It failed to cover against the Houston Rockets, lost outright to Toronto and will now be out to right the ship as five-point favorites in New York.

The Bucks have been superb as a road favorite this year, covering in six of nine games, which is a nice record to hear considering they’re just 11-16 against the spread overall. With that said, we generally see that happen with very public teams who are pushed out to heavy favorites, so it may not be all that surprising.

Despite the poor showing against the spread, the Bucks have really not seen much of a drop-off over their last five games. They rank ninth in Defensive Rating, 11th in Offensive Rating and have shot up to fifth in Rebounding Rate over that period of time.

New York Knicks

Throwing yet another twist into their season, Knicks forward R.J. Barrett was ruled out of Sunday’s game after being placed in the league’s Health and Safety protocols.

While the splits might tell you that’s not a big deal, it’s definitely a big blow considering Obi Toppin, who has impressed this year and taken over for Barrett on the second unit, has also been ruled out under the protocols.

At least defensively, the Knicks could be better suited without Barrett. The team has allowed 112.7 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor this year and 104.2 per 100 with him off, according to Offensively, Barrett has brought a good amount to the table even with his inconsistent shooting, and with Alec Burks likely filling in for him as a starter, they probably won’t miss a beat on that end.

The Knicks will need a strong performance in front of their home fans. New York is just 4-9 against the spread at MSG this year, compared to 7-6 ATS on the road. In some good news, New York is 7-6 ATS coming off a loss this year. However, the Knicks are coming off their fifth loss in six games and are 1-4 ATS in their last five.

Bucks-Knicks Pick

The Knicks have struggled all year to establish the slow pace they like to play at considering they’ve had to spend so much time trailing. With the state of this defense, it’s really hard to see Sunday’s game going any differently than the past six or seven; the Knicks will struggle to score from deep and Julius Randle will face double teams against a stout defense.

The Bucks should have an easy time getting past the Knicks when they’re on offense, taking a lead early and never looking back. Expect New York’s struggles at home to continue.

Pick: Bucks -5 (-110)