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The Milwaukee Bucks Have Become A Betting Stay-Away Team

Nobody on the planet thought that the Bucks would be good enough to catch the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Central Division, but it was supposed to be closer than this. The Bucks have careened towards a 21-18 SU and 17-17-5 ATS season as one of the bigger disappointments in recent weeks. A 96-109 blowout loss to the Indiana Pacers typified just how bad things have become.

Seven players for the Pacers scored in double digits, and that is a very common problem for Milwaukee. I’m not saying that getting 10 points for a role player is that big of a deal, but it’s a symptom of a leaky defence. Jason Kidd’s defensive schemes don’t ever seem to give the Bucks some breathing room and that pressure eventually caves a team in on itself. There’s just never a sense of relaxation.

NBA Futures on Milwaukee -
To Win Central Division +1000
To Win Eastern Conference +1400
To Win NBA Championship +4000

Advanced metrics and points-per-possession are a great way of framing a conversation, but one of the true kitchen sink stats that tells a lot about how good a defence actually is remains opposing field goal percentage. The Bucks allow a clip of 47.2 percent, ranking them fifth worth in the NBA. That’s brutal and that glaring flaw is compounded by the fact that they allow the third best opposing three-point percentage at 38.6.

The margin of difference for these kinds of percentages often seems negligible, but the magnitude of scale is amplified over the long haul. To put it simply, the Bucks are not only vulnerable defensively, they’re also consistently under attack and don’t seem capable of slowing down opposing teams. On the surface= the 106.4 points against they allow ranks 18th, which isn’t terrible, but it’s not offset by anything else in particular.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is submitting an MVP caliber season that we should all be in awe of. He’s unbelievable, and I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say that. His 28.7 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists are fantastic and he (somehow) keeps improving. The issue is that the team surrounding him doesn’t seem to be doing the same.

The arrival of Eric Bledsoe, arguably the team’s second-most talented player, was seen as the perfect injection of wing scoring from a brutally capable player. His 17.8 points per game would be great if that was a realistic average, but a recent five game stretch where Bledsoe scored 26-8-29-7-17 is more honest of what he offers the team. Sometimes he’s there and sometimes he isn’t.

Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brodgon were both breakout players in 2016-17 but haven’t really accelerated their evolution that much. Middleton is a great player, and maybe the steal of the 2012 NBA Draft. Brogdon is still young and is basically the exact same player he was last year. Potential stalwarts like the young (or really old) Thom Maker and John Henson should be better contributors at this point.

But they’re not, and people are quickly pointing the finger routinely at Jason Kidd.

There’s no denying that Kidd’s track record is pretty strong but it also isn’t good enough to suggest that he’s safe at the helm. Where Kidd has been especially strong is improving the offence overall, but he hasn’t taken it to new heights in the way that many of us were expecting. Where I’ll forgive and recognize Kidd’s situation is that Antetokounmpo is not a normal player to center your team around. That in itself is difficult, and maturing Giannis from a wobbly infant fawn to a galloping stud is an accomplishment in itself.

I wonder, however, how much of that focus has detracted from the team’s ability to focus on defence. By being the head coach, Kidd is responsible for the production of his entire staff and that includes Sean Sweeney, the defensive coach of the Bucks. Sweeney is out of his depth at this level, at least for now. It’s obvious. He has seven guys that can completely dominate the perimeter and for some reason nothing’s getting better. If anything, the defence is getting worse.

You can’t praise Kidd’s ability as a head coach for developing a unique offence around a unique player while simultaneously invalidating his efficacy because of the defensive shortcomings that his team presents. That’s not entirely fair. My worry is that the Bucks don’t have the structure in place to build off of. At all times they feel like they’re simply running around trying to keep up with the other team. At very few points in the game do they feel like they’re a step ahead of the opposing team.

And their offence simply isn’t other worldly enough to justify it. Middleton and Bledsoe are fantastic scorers, but they’re erratic and both have moderate ceilings. Putting it all on the shoulders of Giannis is ridiculous. Everyone needs help in the modern NBA.

Next Games: vs. Orlando (1/10), vs. Golden State (1/12), at Miami (1/14), at Washington (1/15), vs. Miami (1/17)

The point is that the problems that the Bucks have are culture bound. They simply do not care about concentrating on defence, so what type of foundation could they possibly build off of? Half of defence is simply effort, but that energy has to be funneled through some sort of structure to be truly efficient and useful. I don’t see it in Milwaukee.

More importantly, this puts the Bucks right on path with being the team that gets knocked in the teeth by the Cavaliers in Round 1 of the 2018 NBA playoffs again. This is a message to all of you who want to believe that having an MVP candidate is enough in the post season. It’s not.

Toronto is getting better. Boston is awesome. Cleveland has issues, but a ceiling that’s above the clouds. Washington and Miami are overcoming a lot of their flaws and showing a personality that I love. Milwaukee is the sixth best team in the Eastern Conference Standings but feel like they’re miles behind the top-five.

Even worse, they’re becoming an absolute stay-away with the oddsmakers shelving them as major favorites in most matchups against bad teams that are exposing their defensive failures. It’s quite possibly the worst place to be in as an NBA betting team because nobody is ever going to trust you.

There are a lot of great bets in the NBA at, the Bucks simply aren’t one of them right now. Check out our daily betting board for the best lines out there, and visit the NBA futures for our constantly updating odds on the playoffs!

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