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Our expert hoops handicapper has given us access to his exclusive NBA picks

How good is it to have hoops back? Last night saw a rare sighting of Markelle Fultz whilst his old team the Sixers destroyed the Celtics. Now onto tonight.

Today's NBA pick:

Milwaukee Bucks @ Houston Rockets (-2), TNT, 8:00 PM ET:

Three NBA MVPs will be on the basketball court when the Milwaukee Bucks visit the Houston Rockets on Thursday night.

The reigning league MVP, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, is by far the team’s best player and if they want to compete for a championship once again in 2019-20, the Bucks will only go as far as he takes them.

Antetokounmpo averaged 27.7 points to go along with 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals per game last season to lead the Bucks to a 60-22 record, which was by far the best in the NBA during the regular season.

Milwaukee, however, fell to the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Antetokounmpo will need help from his teammates if the Bucks are going to take it to the next level.

Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton are two key players for Milwaukee.

Bledsoe finished with 15.9 points, 5.5 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game and Middleton contributed 18.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists per contest last season.

Both players will be instrumental for the Bucks once again this campaign.

The Houston Rockets will look to take the next step as well.

The Rockets washed their hands with point guard Chris Paul in the offseason and they reunited James Harden with his old Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook.

The storyline surrounding the Rockets all season will most certainly be how two ball-dominant superstars (Harden and Westbrook) co-exist on the same team.

Last season, Harden averaged a league-high 36.1 points to go along with 7.5 assists, 6.6 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. Harden was coming off an MVP season two years ago, and many thought he should have won back-to-back league MVP awards after he put together an encore performance last year.

Westbrook averaged 22.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 10.7 assists last year, which was a third straight season he averaged a triple-double per game. There’s a real chance now that he has a better supporting cast around him, Westbrook will be able to make it four straight years of triple-double performances.

Now, let’s get to this season opener for both teams.

I think there’s no doubt about it that both teams will be playoff bound. The Rockets may have a tougher time since the Western Conference is much more challenging, but I truly believe Harden and Westbrook will co-exist and they will get things right this year.

The Bucks, on the other hand, are in NBA Finals or bust mode. Milwaukee’s toughest competition in the East will be the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and maybe the Brooklyn Nets.

Now that Kawhi Leonard is on the Los Angeles Clippers, the Raptors don’t have a realistic shot at making back-to-back Finals appearances.

I think the Rockets will have some growing pains early on and even though they are hosting this season opener, the Bucks will be on a mission right from the beginning.

Look for Antetokounmpo and company to come away with a victory in Houston on Thursday night.

Take the Bucks and the 2 points in this basketball game.

Pick: 1u - Milwaukee Bucks (+2) @ -110

Article Author

Expert handicapper known for his deep knowledge of all things NBA and his ability to pick winners.


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