Mike Budenholzer and the Milwaukee Bucks (53-11) will face a top-tier contender without their best player in action on Monday evening. The Bucks visit the Denver Nuggets (42-21) on the second night of a back-to-back, and Milwaukee will be without Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) for the action. On the other side, the Nuggets have a healthy roster.
Tip-off is at 9 p.m. ET at Pepsi Center. Sportsbooks list Denver as a 5.5-point home favorite, unchanged from the opening line, while the over-under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 222 in the latest Bucks vs. Nuggets odds. Before making any Nuggets vs. Bucks picks or NBA predictions, see what SportsLine's advanced computer model has to say.
The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times, and it's already returned almost $4,000 in profit on all top-rated NBA picks during the 2019-20 season. It also entered Week 20 a blistering 49-31 on all top-rated NBA spread picks this season. Anybody who has followed it has seen huge returns.
- Bucks vs. Nuggets spread: Nuggets -5.5
- Bucks vs. Nuggets over-under: 222 points
- Bucks vs. Nuggets money line: Nuggets -219, Bucks +181
- MIL: The Bucks are 1-4 against the spread in the last five games
- DEN: The Nuggets are 2-7 against the spread in the last nine games
Why the Bucks can cover
The model knows that the Bucks are in a difficult scheduling spot on a back-to-back without their best player but, in short, Milwaukee has the best statistical profile of any NBA team. That is backed up by the NBA's best overall record, and Milwaukee's defense is elite by any measure. The Bucks lead the league in points allowed per possession, and they are also the best team in the NBA in shooting efficiency allowed and defensive rebounding.
On the opposite side, the Bucks are a top-three team in total offense and they have an effective shooting profile, landing No. 2 in the league in shooting efficiency. Milwaukee issues a turnover on only 14 percent of their possessions and, against a Nuggets team that has a propensity to send its opponents to the free-throw line at an alarming, bottom-10 rate, the Bucks should be able to get to the charity stripe on the road.
Why the Nuggets can cover
Even so, Milwaukee isn't a lock to cover the Bucks vs. Nuggets spread. The model also has considered that the Nuggets have a certified superstar in Nikola Jokic, and the All-NBA big man will need to be at his best against the Bucks. Jokic is averaging 20.5 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game this season for Denver, and he is flanked by another talented option in Jamal Murray, who is averaging 18.6 points and 4.8 assists per contest.
All told, the Nuggets are quite effective offensively, ranking in the top 12 in turnover avoidance, shooting efficiency and overall points per possession. Denver's best attribute is offensive rebounding, though, with the Nuggets grabbing nearly 29 percent of their missed shots in 2019-20. The Nuggets could be vulnerable against Milwaukee's elite offense, but Denver's biggest defensive weakness is rebounding, and the Bucks largely eschew offensive rebounding with a bottom-three ranking in the league this season.
How to make Bucks vs. Nuggets picks
SportsLine's model is leaning under on the total, with Jokic projected to fall short of his scoring average and Antetokounmpo out of the lineup. The model also says one side of the spread hits in almost 60 percent of simulations.
So who wins Bucks vs. Nuggets? And which side of the spread hits almost 60 percent of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Nuggets vs. Bucks spread you need to jump on Monday, all from the model that has crushed its NBA picks, and find out.