Knicks vs. Bucks Preview: Back the Over in Jrue Holiday's Return

Expect the offenses to bounce back in Milwaulkee in a showdown between the Knicks and the Bucks? @JoeDellera breaks it down

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Knicks vs. Bucks Odds

Knicks Odds +5
Bucks Odds -5
Over/Under 215.5
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Knicks dropped two consecutive games and are looking to avoid a three-game skid as they head to Milwaukee to take on the defending champs.

Can the Knicks right the ship, or will the Bucks start to climb up the Eastern Conference standings?

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Knicks Looking to Bounce Back

The Knicks are finally healthy heading into this matchup with the return of Nerlens Noel to the bench squad. However, his return did not translate to a win for the Knicks against the Pacers.

That loss was alarming, not because it was the Pacers, but because of the abrupt change to the Knicks’ shot profile. Not to dwell on the past, but the Knicks were outscored by 33 points from 3-point range after only shooting 5/24 from 3 compared to season averages of 16.6 makes on 40.6 attempts.

The concerning part here is with fewer 3 point attempts, you can’t absorb the poor shooting performance. The classic “math problem.”

If the Knicks want to rebound, this needs to be a blip on the radar – an outlier. The perimeter shooting not only is more efficient with this team’s construction, but it also opens up the passing lanes and lob opportunities for Mitchell Robinson.

That being said, the Knicks are still the sixth-best team in point differential (+4.0), per Cleaning the Glass. The offense has been the story this season as they’ve scored 114.4 points per 100 possessions (third) while allowing 110.4 points per 100 (23rd).

Part of the reason the Knicks need to knock down 3s is they surrender 3-point attempts at the fifth-highest rate in the league (42%). This is why it is critical for the Knicks to return to their game plan of shooting 3s on 41.7% of their shots prior to their Wednesday night loss. Considering the blowout, I think they get back to what’s worked this season.

Bucks Hopeful for Holiday’s Return

The Bucks have struggled to stay healthy this season and will be without Khris Middleton (COVID protocols) and Brook Lopez (back). The Bucks are hopeful that Jrue Holiday (ankle – probable) can return for this contest, but that remains to be seen. Keep an eye on his status at the Action Network’s Injury Report tool.

The Bucks are still 12th in Net Rating (albeit just +0.6), but that’s been without multiple starters. In a very limited sample size of 43 minutes, the Bucks are +27.0 points per 100 possessions with Jrue Holiday on the court. While that’s well beyond expectations, he improved not only the Bucks’ offense but their defense as well. His return will be welcomed.

On the offensive side of the floor, the Bucks have taken 42.0% of their shots from 3-point range (sixth most), but they’re only making 32.9%. Last season they converted on 38.8% of those attempts, per Cleaning the Glass. While 3’s are down across the league, the return of Jrue Holiday should help open things up for the Bucks’ offense.

Knicks-Bucks Pick

Both of these teams have enjoyed shooting 3s this season, and both are among the top 10 in 3-pointers made per game this season. Additionally, we’ve seen both of these teams allow 3-point field goals with above league average frequency, per Cleaning the Glass.

With the Knicks looking to bounce back and return to what was successful, and the Bucks bringing back Jrue Holiday to facilitate the offense, I expect more 3s and more points in this game.

I’ll take the over in what I expect to be a high-scoring affair.

Pick: Over 215.5