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Mar 26th NBA Action: Indiana Pacers @ Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee Bucks -2 (-118) vs Indiana Pacers

Our Real Plus/Minus based power ratings make Milwaukee a tad more than 3 points better than Indiana when the Bucks host the Pacers this evening at BMO Harris Bradley Center. As such, we see value backing the home team to beat the number. Our framework correctly handicapped 56% of the 52 instances where we have observed similar value propositions. However, the model has been unprofitable, generally speaking, grading games featuring either the Pacers or Bucks in particular (winning only 48% of 60 games).

Nonetheless, we are comfortable recommending the Bucks -2, as our logistic regression model corroborates the signal from our primary power ratings methodology -- the regression model is based on two independent simulation routines, a power rankings factor, a composite of the sim work and the power ratings output and betting spreads. We have observed a 58.7% win rate when the RPM-based power ratings and regression model are in accord.

Before Tuesday's out, the Bucks had lost their last six games. In Milwaukee's defense though, most of those losses were doled out by high-quality, playoff caliber teams (i.e. the Spurs, Cavaliers, Pelicans and Grizzlies). Another key to explaining the Bucks' recent underperformance is stretch Guard, Jared Dudley's limited availability (Dudley has struggled with a knee-cap issue throughout the season).

Milwaukee's tough stretch ended (or at least was interrupted) two days ago though, when a three-pointer from Khris Middleton at the final buzzer sent the visiting Miami Heat on thier way with the 'L'.

As with Milwaukee, Indiana too managed to press the reset button in their last game, after dropping six straight. Also like the Bucks, the Pacers' tightly contested win came in fairly dramatic fashion -- a layup by Indiana's George Hill, with less than three ticks remaining, proved to be the play that finally put the Washington Wizards away last night.

In fairness though, the Wizards were without Bradley Beal for most of Wednesday's action, after the starting Shooting Guard sprained an ankle late in the first quarter (given that Beal's RPM is +1.95 RPM, while backup Martell Webster's, is -5.57, we can easily make the case that this injury-mandated substitution was the primary determinant of the against-the-spread result). As such, Indiana's win is marred by an asterisk.

As the tight betting line for this contest reflects, this game is likley to be close. To support this outlook, consider that last week our power ratings scheme pitted Milwaukee and Indiana in slots #15 and #16 respectively. This pair was separated by a mere three-tenths of a point margin. In games between teams with pretty even capabilities, we have observed that home court advantage oftentimes arbitrates the final outcome (such was the case when these same Bucks eked out the aforementioned win over Miami on Tuesday).

Further, the Pacers are one of the older teams in the league (based on Real Ages, which weights average player age by minutes played), and they did exert themselves last night to come-from-behind and overtake the Wizards. Indiana is 8-7 ATS when playing on zero days rest, but the potential for fatigue to assert itself is especially present at this advanced stage of the season.

On the other hand, the Bucks did not play Wednesday, and are an impressive 21-13-1 on one night's rest.

Bottom Line: In this reasonably even matchup between two mid-tier teams, we favor the Bucks to cover. Milwaukee is well rested heading into tonight, they own the home court advantage, and are likely to be invigorated by the confidence-inspiring win over Miami two nights earlier.

Milwaukee's Jared Dudley is listed as questinable, while Indiana's ROndey Stuckey has been rled out of tonight's action.

Happy betting!!

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