By George Higgins
This line opened a half-point higher than the nine points the Bucks were favored by when these teams met two weeks ago. The Bucks won that game 112-101 to improve to 12-6 ATS in the last 18 meetings in Wisconsin.
Ben Simmons missed the Sixers’ first game back from the All-Star break on Thursday, but the shooting guard is expected to suit up against the Bucks. Philadelphia could have used Simmons’ services against Brooklyn, needing overtime to get past the Kyrie Irving-less Nets — although a 9-1 surge in the extra period allowed the Sixers to still cover the spread as seven-point chalk. Philadelphia is now 26-2 SU and 16-10-2 ATS at home this season.
Unfortunately for the Sixers, they’ve been nearly as bad on the road as they’ve been dominant at home. Philadelphia has lost five straight on the highway to fall to 9-19 SU as the visitor, and the Sixers have covered just seven of those 28 games. Philly has been especially bad as a road underdog, going 0-7-1 ATS in its last eight when catching points away from home.
The Bucks showed no signs of rust coming out of the All-Star Break Thursday in Detroit, jumping out to a 29-point lead by halftime and going on to whip the Pistons 126-106. The rout came a week after Milwaukee’s 118-111 loss at Indiana and improved the Bucks to 8-0 SU (6-2 ATS) in games following a loss.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed the game against the Pacers after becoming a dad earlier in the week, led the way with 33 points and 16 rebounds in just 32 minutes of action, while Khris Middleton added 28 and eight. Brook Lopez continued his stellar play in February with 18 points — going 9-of-10 from the free-throw line — and is averaging more than 15 points per outing this month.
George Hill returned to the Milwaukee lineup Thursday after missing the Bucks’ previous seven games due to a hamstring injury. However, the Bucks remain without another veteran, sharpshooter Kyle Korver, who has already been ruled out for Saturday’s contest due to back spasms.
Betting Pick: Bucks -9.5
Eight of the Sixers’ last nine losses on the road have come by double digits.