Milwaukee Bucks vs Orlando Magic: Round 1, Free Picks, Odds & Predictions

Milwaukee Bucks vs Orlando Magic NBA Playoffs Round 1
Milwaukee Bucks vs Orlando Magic, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

The Milwaukee Bucks’ defense showed up at the right moment in the NBA postseason, denying the Orlando Magic any hope of extending the series between the two teams. The Bucks limited the Magic to just 39.4 percent shooting in the decisive Game 5, notably holding Nikola Vucevic to just 22 points on 9-of-25 shooting in the contest. Giannis Antetokounmpo was himself with 28 points and 17 rebounds in just 28 minutes while Khris Middleton chipped in 21 points and 10 rebounds as he continues to find his rhythm again.

Milwaukee Bucks win 4-1

After the Orlando Magic shocked the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of this series, there was never a doubt as to who was the better team. Milwaukee might not have been able to slow down Nikola Vucevic for the first four games of the series, but every other Magic player failed to get going against the Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo was dominant in all five games of the series, but his teammates – notably Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton – began to assert themselves as well in the latter part of the series. Now the Bucks face a challenge in the Miami Heat, who will test Milwaukee’s defense in different ways.

Game 1

August 18th, 1:30 p.m., The Field House

The Milwaukee Bucks never looked like the team that dominated the NBA during their eight games in the Orlando bubble, but they also approached these games very differently than most teams. The Bucks were comfortable as the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the playoffs, and rotated their bench with the goal of getting all of the role players in form for the postseason. As a result, Milwaukee won only three games, but there is no reason to panic yet about the Bucks.

The Orlando Magic didn’t need to do much in order to secure the eighth seed, but they also failed to impress since the restart of the season. The Magic went just 3-5 inside the bubble and lost all four games against teams with winning records. And as if Orlando wasn’t at a big disadvantage already, the Magic are dealing with some injuries that could affect their depth for this series.

Milwaukee won all four games this season with Orlando fairly handily with the closest victory being 11 points in December without Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks have two scorers – Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton – averaging at least 20 points per game, which is more than Orlando’s leading scorer, Nikola Vučević. The Magic did allow the fifth-fewest points per game in the NBA this season, but also scored the 24th-most points per game.

This is the type of series you probably should stay away, so we’ll need to get exotic to make it worthwhile. The Bucks are -10000 to win the series at New Jersey online sports betting sites, and -125 to sweep the series. There is just no winning a lot of money in this series without going crazy and picking Orlando to win a game – +190 for Milwaukee to win the series 4-1 and +200 for the series to last five games.

The Bucks are going to win Game 1. They have the best player in the league, they have the best defense in the league and they scored more points than any other team. The best odds you can find on Milwaukee to win Game 1 is -500, so you’ll need to take the Bucks minus-10 points at -110 odds.

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Game 2 (Orlando Magic lead 1-0)

August 20th, 6 p.m., The Field House

If Orlando is going to have any chance in this series, it needs to play three more games exactly like it played Tuesday in the opener. The Magic shared the ball well, limited their turnovers and shot efficiently from the floor. It didn’t matter that Antetokounmpo had a monster game because the Magic worked well defensively to limit his supporting cast by forcing off games from the two main scoring options behind Antetokounmpo. Of course the challenge is now replicating that.

A loss to Orlando in the first game of the first round isn’t a death sentence for Milwaukee, though. The Raptors lost Game 1 to the Magic last season before rolling to the title. But the loss did showcase some of the flaws the Bucks have not addressed from their eight regular-season games in the bubble. Another main concern is Brook Lopez cannot continue to be lose the battle in the paint to Nikola Vucevic as badly as he did Tuesday. Lopez had just five points and four rebounds in the loss, while Vucevic had 35 points and 11 boards.

Milwaukee has a chance to make a lot of people look foolish again because it is such a heavy favorite in Game 2 according to the New Jersey online sports betting sites. The Bucks are listed at -1000 odds on the moneyline for Thursday’s game as 12.5-point favorites. I do believe the Bucks will win the game outright, but I don’t know if it will be by more than 12 points, so I’d hedge and also pick the Magic +12 points at +100.

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Game 3 (Series tied 1-1)

August 22nd, 1 p.m., The Field House

Giannis Antetokounmpo was one of two Milwaukee Bucks players who finished with a double-double as they evened their series with the Orlando Magic on Thursday. The other player with a double-double was Pat Connaughton, who finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds off the bench for Milwaukee to help neutralize the effect of Nikola Vucevic’s 32 points and 10 rebounds for Orlando. Brook Lopez also made a bigger offensive contribution for Milwaukee with 20 points as the Bucks shot 47 percent from the field as a team.

Milwaukee really needs to get Khris Middleton back into a rhythm again now that he’s struggled for the last two weeks. Middleton had such a strong start to bubble life, but in his last four games, he’s shot 35.5 percent from the field, including just 2-of-13 from behind the arc. The Bucks need him to be more productive in the long term, and it would be nice for them if that started in this series. Milwaukee will be in big trouble if it continues to rely on Connaughton and Donte DiVincenzo to score in double figures on a consistent basis.

Orlando needs to keep funneling its offense through Vucevic in the middle, but it desperately needs more production from its guards if it wants to compete with Milwaukee. The Magic cannot afford to shoot 7-of-33 from the perimeter or 34.8 percent from the field and still win a game in this series. Orlando also needs to do a better job at limiting the rebounds Antetokounmpo is able to collect because if he can dominate the glass at both ends, and still score 25-30 points, it’ll be a long road back in this series.

The odds are always going to be tough in this series because Milwaukee is such a large favorite that there isn’t a chance to really make money. The Bucks are at -835 odds on the moneyline at the New Jersey online sports betting sites, and they’re listed as 12-point favorites at -110 odds. Milwaukee should continue to beat up on the Magic behind strong efforts from Antetokounmpo, so the question becomes finding the right combination of bets to make a payout worthwhile. For me, it’s the parlay of Milwaukee winning straight up and the under 226.5 points at +115 odds.

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Game 4 (Milwaukee Bucks lead 2-1)

August 24th, 1:30 p.m., The Field House

It was a historic day for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who once again proved why he might be the best player in the NBA right now. The Milwaukee Bucks forward became the first player in NBA history to score 35 points and grab 10 rebounds in a playoffs game while shooting 85 percent or better from the floor. While the Orlando Magic had no answer for Antetokounmpo, the Bucks were able to limit Nikola Vucevic in their win over Orlando.

Milwaukee received some much-needed offense from Khris Middleton, who was far from perfect, but still scored 17 points in the win on 7-of-17 shooting. Brook Lopez added 16 points, but his biggest contribution was limiting the efficacy of Nikola Vucevic. The Magic’s center had scored at least 30 points in each of the first two games of the series, but Milwaukee held him to 20 points on 8-of-19 shooting as part of a dominant defensive effort on Orlando’s bench.

What ultimately doomed Orlando was a stretch in the second quarter when it went nearly five minutes without scoring while Milwaukee doubled its lead to 24 points. The lead was as large as 34 in the third quarter, but D.J. Augustin and Terrence Ross came off the bench to make 8 of 15 3-pointers to help spark a comeback down to 12 points. Augustin finished with 24 points for the Magic and Ross had 20, and the Orlando bench made 12 of the team’s 19 3-pointers in the loss.

The Bucks are 13.5-point favorites in Game 4 and that’s where we need to look to find value when betting on this matchup. Milwaukee is an overwhelming favorite on the moneyline at the New Jersey online sports betting sites as expected, so we need to mix and match wagers to find value. I’m the biggest fan of taking Orlando with the 13.5 points and under 225.5 combined points, which nets you +280 odds because the Magic should be able to stay close enough to be in that ballpark of 13 points at the end of the game.

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Game 5 (Milwaukee Bucks lead 3-1)

August 26th, 4 p.m., AdventHealth Arena

Khris Middleton admitted after the game that he sometimes gets too selfless with the ball, but he wasn’t going to be passing up his shot in crunch time Monday. The Milwaukee Bucks guard came alive in the fourth quarter of Game 4 to lead Milwaukee to a critical win over the Orlando Magic and move one win closer to the next round. It was a breakout performance for Middleton, who scored more points in the final quarter of Monday’s game than he had scored in any of the previous games in the series.

Middleton’s emergence will be vital for Milwaukee moving forward as the opponents become more difficult. The Bucks were surviving without his scoring, but Middleton should gain a lot of confidence from scoring 18 points in the fourth quarter of a big win. If he is able to sustain this momentum and add a true secondary scoring threat to Giannis Antetokounmpo, it will only make the Bucks that much more dangerous in the NBA playoffs. Wesley Matthews also added some timely shooting by making four of his six attempts from behind the arc in just 21 minutes on the floor.

Orlando keeps doing a lot of good things on offense against this Milwaukee defense as the Magic made 18 3-pointers on 45 attempts, but the defense is an issue. It’s not about stopping Antetokounmpo as much as it is about slowing him down, and the Magic have struggled to prevent him from taking over this series in the last three games. That isn’t necessarily Orlando’s fault per se, but once Middleton got going in the fourth quarter, it added a second scorer the Magic just don’t possess. Vucevic has been remarkable in this series, but he isn’t getting that one big secondary scorer to help push Orlando over the top.

Anyone picking against the Bucks to close out the Magic in Game 5 must have some weird psychic powers because Milwaukee is finally starting to round into form. The Bucks are again massive favorites at the New Jersey online sports betting sites rendering any bets on them on the moneyline pointless. Any return on a wager on the Bucks has to start with taking them laying 14 points at -112 odds or taking advantage of the double bets that tie the spread to the over/under on points. I’ll do the latter and take Milwaukee laying 14.5 points and the under 227.5 total points.

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

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