Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers host Khris Middleton and the Milwaukee Bucks in the second game on the 2019 Christmas Day NBA schedule. Both teams are mostly healthy entering Thursday's action, with only a couple injuries to report. For Milwaukee, Eric Bledsoe (lower leg) is still sidelined, meaning second-year guard Donte DiVincenzo will remain in the starting lineup. The Sixers will be without rookie defensive stopper Matisse Thybulle (knee), leaving them a bit shorthanded on the wing.
Tip-off for this one is set for 2:30 p.m ET from the Wells Fargo Center. Sportsbooks list the Bucks as 3.5-point favorites, while the over-under for total points is 220 in the latest Sixers vs. Bucks odds. Before making any Bucks vs. Sixers picks or NBA predictions, you'll want to see what SportsLine's Mike Barner has to say.
Barner was recently nominated for Basketball Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, and his work has appeared in Sports Illustrated and Yahoo, among many major outlets. He's also been featured on ESPN Radio. Barner digs deep into NBA data, examining team trends and projecting game outcomes. Now, Barner's exhaustive analysis is paying off big-time at SportsLine. The No. 1 NBA expert, Barner is on a sick 33-19 run NBA picks against the spread, returning more than $1,200 to $100 bettors.
Now, Barner has studied Bucks vs. Sixers on Christmas Day from every possible angle. You can head to SportsLine to see his pick. Now, here are several NBA betting lines and trends for 76ers vs. Bucks:
- Bucks vs. Sixers spread: Bucks -3.5
- Bucks vs. Sixers over-under: 220 points
- Bucks vs. Sixers money line: PHI +134, MIL -154
- MIL: Bucks are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
- PHI: 76ers are 26-9 ATS in their last 35 home games vs. a team with a road winning percentage greater than .600.
Why the Sixers can cover
Barner is well aware while Philadelphia will have its hands full trying to slow down Giannis Antetokounmpo, the same can be said for Milwaukee's attempt to contain Joel Embiid. He took home Second-Team All NBA and All Defensive Team honors last year, and his play was elevated even further when facing Milwaukee. He took it upon himself to keep pace with Antetokounmpo in this matchup last year, and the results were averages of 36 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists, and nearly three blocks.
Embiid also impressed on Christmas Day last year, finishing with 34 points and 16 rebounds against a tough Boston defense. The big stage brings out the best in Embiid, who is red-hot entering the Christmas day showdown. Embiid has averaged 26 points and 14 rebounds over the past two weeks, and he'll look to carry that momentum into the matchup against Milwaukee.
Why the Bucks can cover
Barner is also well aware that Antetokounmpo has been matchup-proof. Just a week ago, he hung 34 points and 11 rebounds on Anthony Davis and L.A.'s No. 2 ranked defense, all while knocking down 5 of 8 shots from beyond the arc. In three meetings with the Sixers last year, he averaged 42 points, 16 rebounds, and eight assists. Al Horford didn't play in that matchup, but that might not have been a huge factor.
In three meetings with Horford when he played for the Celtics, Antetokounmpo averaged 31 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists, while shooting 59 percent from the floor. Antetokounmpo has been on another level when playing in prime matchups like this, and he has elevated his play with Bledsoe out. He should have no problem imposing his will against a Sixers team that has sputtered a bit entering the holiday season.
We can tell you Barner is leaning under, and he's also found a critical X-factor that has him jumping all over one side of the spread. He's only sharing what it is, and who to back, at SportsLine.
So who wins Bucks vs. Sixers? And which critical X-factor makes one side of the spread hit hard? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of the 76ers vs. Bucks spread you need to jump on Christmas Day, all from the expert on a 33-19 run on NBA picks, and find out.