The Thursday TNT double-header is upon us, with the Milwaukee Bucks squaring off against the Philadelphia 76ers at 4:30 p.m. (PDT) followed by the Los Angeles Lakers facing the Los Angeles Clippers at 7:00 p.m. (PDT). Each team has a legitimate shot at winning their matchup, but tonight we’re diving into the betting odds. Where are you putting your money?
First, let’s take a look at Milwaukee vs. Philadelphia.
MIL Spread: +4 (-115) Moneyline: +140
PHI Spread: -4 (-105) Moneyline: -165
Neither team is expected to dominate this matchup; both boast perennial MVP candidates and have feasible title aspirations this year. But there are two main reasons we’re seeing the Sixers as the favorites here.
1) The game is in Philadelphia. No way around it, the 76ers are the home team. Philly went 24-17 at home last season and should have the advantage against Milwaukee on Thursday.
2) The Bucks are missing small forward Khris Middleton (left wrist surgery). Middleton is the team’s primary scoring option after Giannis Antetokounmpo, generally posting around 20 points per game while moving the ball and setting up his teammates as well. In his stead, some combination of Jordan Nwora, Wesley Matthews, and Grayson Allen will pick up the slack.
Those two factors put the smart money on Philly, though the Bucks cannot be entirely discounted. The spread is only 4.0 for a reason. If you’re going to bet the underdog tonight, Milwaukee is the way to go. This is one of the few instances this season where they will be underdogs at all. Not to mention the Sixers looked out of sorts against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday.
Main takeaway: Bet on the Sixers if you’re being cautious, but bear in mind that any team with a healthy Giannis Antetokounmpo has a real chance to win. The Sixers are by no means unstoppable.
Now let’s get into Clippers vs. Lakers
LAC Spread: -5 (-110) Moneyline: -210
LAL Spread: +5 (-110) Moneyline: +180
The Clippers are huge favorites to win this matchup for good reason. Although neither team flourished last season, the Lakers stagnated – unable to find a trade partner for Russell Westbrook – where the Clippers gained and regained some important pieces.
1) Kawhi Leonard. No longer sidelined with an ACL injury, the two-time NBA Champion and five-time NBA All-Star is ready for game action. Spending his time off focused on strength training, he looks to have built back better. There is no reason to believe he won’t make a major difference in this matchup and the season beyond.
2) John Wall. The second piece the Clippers added is the dynamic playmaker who could be their missing component at a title run. Is he the same pre-injury Wall we saw with the Washington Wizards years ago? Almost assuredly not, but the Clippers do not need him to be. He’s a gifted facilitator and, at 32 years old, has plenty left to contribute.
Of course, the Lakers aren’t some push-over just because they were unable to make meaningful offseason moves. LeBron James, at 37, is somehow still elite, as is his younger frontcourt counterpart Anthony Davis, who looked stellar against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. But there just isn’t enough there to suggest they’ll be victorious. They will also require an adjustment period to learn the style of first-time head coach Darvin Ham.
Main takeaway: Bet the Clippers. They’ll likely cover the spread and make you some money. I could waffle here and throw in the usual caveats, but it’s just the smart move.