Milwaukee Bucks vs Philadelphia 76ers Prediction: Can the 76ers Keep Up?
Milwaukee Bucks vs Philadelphia 76ers Prediction
Long ago, before he had to deal with the daily melodrama that is Ben Simmons, before he ever shepherded Lob City in LA, and before he won a championship with the Boston Celtics (still undefeated when fully healthy!), Doc Rivers broke into coaching with an undermanned Orlando Magic team that was expected to finish at the bottom of the league.
That team, the 1999-00 outfit with an over/under below 30 and whose best player was the barely six-foot Darrell Armstrong, won 41 games and barely missed the playoffs. Starting with that can-do squad, Rivers has now accumulated 1000 wins as an NBA coach, becoming only the 10th man to do so when he picked up that milestone victory over the weekend in Chicago. Through it all, the trend of his coaching career has never changed: although he sometimes struggles with prosperity, Rivers usually gets the most out of the talent he’s handed, and always does well with an underdog.
That’ll have to be the case right now, as he’s still without Simmons and has lost Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris to COVID for the time being. It almost didn’t matter last night against the Knicks, who were up 19 points but struggled to close out the victory, allowing the Sixers to draw within one on several occasions in the last 15 minutes. It took a herculean effort from Julius Randle and a poor shooting night from Philly (just 13-of-40 from deep) for New York to escape with the win.
It recalled the two-and-a-half week stretch last season when Embiid went down and the Sixers went 7-3, with all three losses coming by single digits. They had Ben Simmons for all but one of those contests, which puts the stretch in a bit more context, but the fact remains that Rivers does well with adversity.
One of those losses was a four-point home defeat at the hands of the eventual world champion Bucks. The Sixers lost all three of their games to Milwaukee last season, but were never fully intact for any of them and both of the other losses were on the road, one by seven and one by 38.
Turning to this matchup, this version of the Bucks is a far cry from last season’s three-seed. They are 4-6 and have lost five of their last six games. The last two have come with Jrue Holiday back in the lineup after he missed a handful of games with an injury, but they’re still missing three starters: Khris Middleton (health and safety protocols), Brook Lopez (back) and Donte DiVincenzo (ankle), who has been out all season.
The injuries are a large reason why the Bucks are just 1-5 in their last six against the spread. Rivers, meanwhile, had his Sixers on a five-game winning streak before yesterday’s close loss.
Even with the talent disparity, the Bucks haven’t earned the right to be getting points against almost anyone right now. Philly is home, where they’re always tough, and with Doc Rivers at the helm, you know they’ll give themselves a chance. Take the points.
Milwaukee Bucks vs Philadelphia 76ers Pick
76ers +5.5 (-103)
Los Angeles Clippers vs Portland Trail Blazers
Los Angeles Clippers vs Portland Trail Blazers Prediction
Tuesday’s second national television game features two of the more confounding teams of the early going.
In one corner, we have the Blazers, who just beat the even more confusing Lakers by 15 at home after dropping four straight against the spread. Damian Lillard is also still mired in the worst slump of his career, but despite those realities, the Blazers sport a .500 record and the ninth best net rating in the NBA.
In the other corner, we have the Clippers, owners of the sixth best net rating, a (barely) winning record, and an MVP candidate in Paul George that is putting up perhaps the best numbers of his distinguished career. The Clips have won four straight outright and three straight against the spread, although the quality of that competition (Oklahoma City, Minnesota twice, and most recently the suddenly struggling Hornets) leaves a bit to be desires.
Los Angeles and Portland have already played twice this season, with the home team winning in convincing fashion each time. This game is in LA, so as expected, the Clippers are getting points. This game feels like a toss-up, and is probably best considered a stay away given how these teams have performed on the whole. That said, LA has seemingly found their groove, and with the third best defense in the NBA, is the safer bet to at least be in this until the very end.
Give the points and go with the home team, especially with Dame Time still not looking ready to break out.
Los Angeles Clippers vs Portland Trail Blazers Pick
- Trail Blazers +3 (-110)