Bucks at Lakers betting primer: Line moves toward Milwaukee in early wagering

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (AP Photo/Brett Davis)
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The visiting Bucks have taken the early sharp money ahead of Friday night’s marquee NBA clash in Los Angeles, as the point spread opened Lakers -2 but has been bet down to a pick ‘em on most oddsboards. In fact, the line has crossed the fence to Milwaukee -1 at some sportsbooks.

The total opened 223, plateaued at 228 and sits at 227.5 as of this writing.

The coin-flip betting line on the Lakers’ home floor indicates the betting market is firm in its sentiment that the Bucks are the superior team. Sure enough, Milwaukee has surpassed the Lakers on the NBA futures board, now priced as the +225 favorite at the Westgate SuperBook to win the title in June. At +275 odds, the Lakers are tied with the Clippers as the co-second favorites. The Bucks, of course, have a pass of lesser resistance through the East and are -250 to come out of the conference.

While the Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. LeBron James MVP debate rages on in mainstream media circles, the race isn’t close as far as the betting market is concerned. The Greek Freak is priced at a prohibitive -600 at the Westgate to win the award for the second year in a row, and while LeBron is the co-second choice with James Harden, those two stars are a distant 8/1 on the oddsboard.

Friday’s potential championship series preview is the second clash of the season between these teams. On December 19, Milwaukee beat the Lakers 111-104, covering the spread as 4-point home chalk. The game stayed UNDER the total of 227.

Both teams reside in first place with large leads in their respective conferences. They’ve also been moneymakers for bettors this season. Milwaukee’s 36-26 against-the-spread record is third best in the league; at 33-26-1 ATS, the Lakers are fourth best.

The Bucks have been particularly profitable away from home over the past few seasons, compiling a 51-17 ATS record on the road since Dec. 14, 2018, per SportsDatabase.com. Cashed tickets have been harder to come by with tighter spreads, though, as they’re just 2-3 SU and ATS in these spots when the line is 4 points or shorter.

At a pick ‘em or +1, we see a tinge of value in the Lakers at home Friday. LeBron and Co. have been favored in all 29 of their home games (22-7 SU, 16-12-1 ATS), and with revenge on their minds, we like their chances to pull out a win.

The UNDER also warrants consideration. The playoff atmosphere figures to translate to intense defense and cautious possessions. And while the Bucks are lighting up the NBA at a league-best 119.1 points per game, they’re also second in points allowed (106.6) and the Lakers are fifth (107.1). The UNDER has cashed in five straight games for Milwaukee and six of its last seven. We’ll ride that trend with a small play in this spot.

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