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Vegas is Still Undervaluing the Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis could be closing in on his first NBA MVP award in 2019. Photo by Keith Allison (flickr).
  • Milwaukee has the 6th longest odds to win the 2019 NBA Championship despite having the best winning percentage in the NBA
  • Will the Bucks be the last team standing in the East when the season is done?
  • Does Milwaukee have enough fire power to compete with Golden State?

The Bucks have already won 26 games this season, but they have yet to win over Vegas.

Milwaukee’s odds to win the 2019 NBA Championship have barely budged over the past month and now sit at +1700 across a number of top online sportsbooks. Bookies seem unimpressed with the fact that the Bucks have the best winning percentage in the NBA, or that they’re the only team in the league ranked in the top three in offensive rating, defensive rating, and net rating.

Milwaukee’s tepid title odds are even longer than those of the Toronto Raptors, who went 8-7 in December, and the maddeningly inconsistent Boston Celtics, who have dropped five of their last 10 games.

2019 NBA Championship Odds

Team Odds
Golden State Warriors -150
Toronto Raptors +600
Boston Celtics +950
Houston Rockets +1400
Los Angeles Lakers +1600

The odds may suggest otherwise, but we think there are three reasons why Milwaukee should be considered a bona fide championship contender:

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo Has Been Freak-ing Awesome

For years, the knock on Giannis Antetokounmpo was that he didn’t have a jump shot. Turns out he doesn’t need one. The Greek Freak has emerged as the favorite to win the 2019 NBA MVP Award by hitting an astounding 65% of his two-point attempts. While other players have increased their range and retreated to the three-point line, he’s gotten closer to the rim, where he’s been able to punish defenders with an endless supply of ferocious slams.

Antetokounmpo’s dominance in the restricted zone has opened up the rest of the court for players like Malcolm Brogdan, who is hitting a career-high 44% of his threes, and Khris Middleton, who is nailing 37% of his three-point attempts. Even Brook Lopez has gotten in on the act and is launching 7.1 treys per game. Their open looks are all courtesy of Antetokounmpo and his peerless ability to attract double and triple-teams every time he ventures into the paint.

2. The Celtics Are Still Rudderless

Few teams have given bettors more fits this season than the Celtics, who have peppered eight-game winning streaks with head-scratching losses to the Suns and Knicks. Just when you think you’ve figured them out, they flip the script again and blow a gimme they were heavily favored to win.

Boston’s consistently inconsistent results could continue well into the New Year due to the latest injury to All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, who suffered a scratched eye against the Spurs on Monday night. Irving is listed as day-to-day but could sit out a week or more if he experiences any setbacks.

3. Kyle Lowry’s Health is a Legitimate Concern

The Raptors looked like the beasts of the East until December 14th, when Kyle Lowry was sidelined due to lower back soreness. Toronto has gone 5-4 since and has been held under 100 points in four of those contests. Lowry’s absence has brought Toronto’s offense to a grinding halt and has put too much pressure on third-year point guard Fred VanVleet, whose field-goal percentage and true shooting percentage have plummeted while playing extended minutes.

Lowry received anti-inflammatory injections in his back over the weekend, but he remains immobile and the Raptors have not set a timetable for his return. At 32, it’s fair to wonder whether he’ll be the same player when he gets back on the hardwood.

Should You Throw a Few Bucks on Milwaukee?

Milwaukee’s evolution from Eastern Conference afterthought to championship contender has been mesmerizing, but 2019 won’t be the year the Bucks hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

The title belongs to the Warriors, whose odds haven’t risen above -160 since last June. Oddsmakers understand that Golden State is still the most lethal team in the NBA, and that Steve Kerr’s squad will discover a new gear when DeMarcus Cousins makes his long-awaited debut.

Boogie’s interior presence will give Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Steph Curry all the space they need to splash their way to their third straight NBA championship.

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