Pelicans vs. Bucks: Early Scoring Likely in Milwaukee

Action Network contributor Andrew O'Connor-Watts previews Sunday's NBA matchup between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Milwaukee Bucks, including a betting prediction.

Pelicans vs. Bucks Odds

Pelicans Odds +9.5
Bucks Odds -9.5
Over/Under 234
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The New Orleans Pelicans travel to Milwaukee to face the Bucks on Sunday night. These teams met on Dec. 19 and the Bucks came away with a 128-119 victory.

The Pelicans will look to avenge that home loss, but may have to do so without Brandon Ingram. Additionally, New Orleans is on the second night of a back-to-back after hosting Washington on Saturday.

Here’s my handicap and pick for the New Orleans Pelicans vs. Milwaukee Bucks.

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New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans welcomed Ingram back Wednesday from a 33-game absence, but things didn’t go as planned in his 26 minutes. Ingram struggled to find his shot and finished with 13 points on 4-of-18 shooting in a loss to the red-hot Minnesota Timberwolves.

Ingram wasted no time heating up Saturday night against the Wizards as he tallied nine points, one rebound and two assists on 4-of-6 shooting in the first quarter. New Orleans closed the quarter down 32-30, but went over the first quarter total (56.5) with ease.

Scoring early is something the Pelicans have done all season — with or without Ingram. New Orleans has gone over the first quarter total in seven of its past 10 games and in four of the past six on the road. The Pelicans are averaging 29.1 points in the first quarter.

Despite their tendency toward points in the first quarter, the Pelicans tend to slow it down in the second and struggle to find points when the reserve unit plays more minutes.

In their past 10 road games, the under is 3-6-1 in the first half, according to EV Analytics.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks look like a different offense with Khris Middleton in the mix. His presence requires a level of defensive attention that frees up the perimeter for 3-point shooters like Grayson Allen (40.2%) and Jevon Carter (40%).

Since Middleton’s return, the Bucks have erupted for points in the first quarter. They’re averaging 40 points per game, although some of that could be credited to a lack of defense by their opponents.

The past three Bucks games have been against the Pacers, Nuggets and Pistons. The Pacers and Pistons rank 29th and 23rd defensively, per Dunks and Threes. The Nuggets are exactly league average at 15th, but were without Nikola Jokic.

Despite the lackluster defense of recent opponents, the Bucks have still been scoring early. The over is 7-3 in Milwaukee’s past 10 home games.

Pelicans-Bucks Pick

Expect scoring early in this one. Ingram could sit on the back-to-back, but even if misses this game, I like the first quarter line up to 58.5.

If the first quarter does go over, I’ll look to live bet the first-half under. Both teams tend to even out their scoring after the first quarter, which provides a good buy-low spot on an under.

Pick: Over 57.5 1Q