Warriors vs. Bucks Preview: Golden State Not the Same Without Green

Joe Dellera previews Thursday's NBA game between the Warriors and Bucks, including betting odds and a prediction.

Warriors vs. Bucks Odds

Warriors Odds +3
Bucks Odds -3
Over/Under 223
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Warriors head to Milwaukee to take on Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks in a potential NBA Finals matchup. Although both teams may be missing a star, this showdown between two of the NBA’s best will be must-watch television.

Let’s break it down.

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Warriors Not the Same Without Draymond Green

The Golden State Warriors will be without Draymond Green as he recovers from a calf injury, but we will forgive him for missing tonight’s game considering his gutsy seven-second, one-foul effort in Klay Thompson’s return brought in tons of cashed bets for those that were able to bet on his under.

Thompson is expected to play against the Bucks but there has been no word of a minutes limit yet. He’s played 20 minutes in both of his appearances this season.

The Warriors have the league’s best Adjusted Net Rating and the league’s best Adjusted Defensive Rating, per Although Green’s individual +/- on the season is not incredibly notable — he is just a +2.7 — he is arguably the most important person on this team for them to reach their ceiling.

We know about his defense, and it’s partially why he’s the favorite to win his second Defensive Player of the Year Award, but his offense is underrated. Green is not a scorer, but what he does is give Steph Curry a break and the ability to play off-ball.

Green is an elite facilitator and roll man and he sees passing lanes before they are even fully developed. Defenses cannot key in on Curry in the same manner, because Green will find the open man. Green helps unlock Curry’s offense.

Additionally, Green has missed six games this season. In those games, the Warriors are just 2-4 with one of those wins coming against the hapless Pistons.

Bucks Have a Chance to Get Right

The Bucks have listed Jrue Holiday as doubtful for this matchup, and while I think he’s a critical player for the Bucks in the long run, I think they can survive his absence in this game due to their depth. Grayson Allen has been removed from the injury report and Pat Connaughton is listed as probable.

The Bucks have slid a bit of late, dropping two in a row to the Hornets, but the Warriors without Green could give them a get-right opportunity. The Bucks have the eighth-best Adjusted Net Rating in the League (+2.5) and this is partially because they’ve been docked by an easier strength of schedule so far this season. In terms of point differential, the Bucks are sixth (+4.3 points per 100 possessions), per Cleaning the Glass.

The Bucks should be able to attack the Warriors without Green. The Bucks shoot the ball 41.5% of the time from 3-point range, fourth-most often in the league. Despite the Warriors’ league-best eFG% allowed (49.9%), they allow opponents to take 3-point shots. With Allen and Connaughton returning, they along with Khris Middleton could be leaned on for their perimeter shooting.

Warriors-Bucks Pick

Had Green been available for this matchup, I think we see a totally different game.

While Curry is always able to explode, he has been in a bit of a shooting slump and is shooting just 39.3% from the floor and 33.9% from 3 over his last 10 games. Without Green to help set him up, I don’t expect him to see a ceiling game here against the Bucks.

I think Green’s absence is being overshadowed and undervalued because of Thompson. We really do not know how much Thompson can play, and I think he is being overvalued relative to the spread.

I’ll back the home favorite and lay the points.

Pick: Bucks -3