Brandon Ingram dropped 32 on Wednesday night and will be looking to replicate that performance when the Bucks come to town on Friday. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- The Milwaukee Bucks visit the struggling New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night
- The reigning Eastern Conference champions enter as 7-point favorites against Zion Williamson and the Pels
- Get our odds, preview, and best bet below for this contest
Things won’t get any easier for the struggling New Orleans Pelicans as they welcome one of the East’s best teams in the Milwaukee Bucks to the Smoothie King Center on Friday, January 29th, tip-off 7:30pm ET.
NOLA is off to a poor start at 6-10, while going 2-8 in their last 10 games. The Bucks meanwhile, are 11-6, which puts them second in the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee won both games against the Pels last season and have also captured four straight victories against Zion Williamson and co. dating back to December of 2018.
Bucks vs Pelicans Odds
|Milwaukee Bucks||-7 (-110)||-300||O 228.5 (-110)|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+7 (-110)||+245||U 228.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Jan 28 at Fanduel
Bucks Look To Continue Win Streak Against NOLA
After making a splash in free agency in order to build a legitimate championship squad around Giannis Antetokounmpo, The Bucks have enjoyed a respectable start to this season.
Although six losses aren’t ideal, considering Milwaukee lost just 17 times all of last season, there’s a lot of positives to take away from their play. Mike Budenholzer’s team is first in the NBA with a 117.8 offensive rating, while also sitting in the top five of several other different categories, including three-point percentage and rebounds per game.
Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday have formed a nice partnership, with the Greek Freak averaging 26.8 points this season and grabbing 11 boards per night. As for Holiday, his numbers are slightly down with Milwaukee at 15.5 points per contest. But that’s understandable considering he’s not the focal point of the offense like he was in New Orleans.
Holiday’s usage last season was 24.3% and now with the Bucks, it’s just 19.3%. Friday night will also be his first time back in NOLA after the offseason trade that sent the veteran to Milwaukee.
Wednesday’s win over the Raptors really showcased what this Bucks team is capable of when the majority of the offensive unit is clicking. Even though Holiday had an off night with just seven points, Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez, and Khris Middleton all showed out with more than 20 apiece.
The MVP with a monster game:
24 PTS | 18 REB | 9 AST pic.twitter.com/3sjs3P92Cv
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 28, 2021
Milwaukee dominated Toronto on the glass as well, although that’s not necessarily anything to brag about considering the Raps don’t have the most impactful bigs. Nevertheless, this Bucks team has been playing good basketball and when they’re shooting it well, using their length inside, and playing strong defense, it’s a scary sight for any opponent.
Zion, Ingram Leading The Way For Pels
Although New Orleans isn’t playing all that well this season, the duo of Brandon Ingram and Williamson are looking sharp. They’re both averaging 23.9 points per night and running the offense for Stan Van Gundy.
The Pelicans broke their three-game losing streak on Wednesday night against the NBA-worst Washington Wizards, with Zion and Ingram each dropping 32. It was the first time in two seasons together they scored more than 30 points in a single game. Although the Wizards have been absolutely dreadful, it was a promising sign for NOLA to see their two stars ball out.
However, this team needs to practically improve in every category imaginable. New Orleans ranks in the bottom 10 of the league in defensive rating, assists, three-point percentage, and free throw percentage, among others.
One glaring issue has been their lack of playmaking. Ingram and Lonzo Ball lead the squad with 4.8 and 4.6 dimes, respectively, but that’s not even close to good enough. In comparison, Lonzo averaged seven assists last season. The former UCLA standout is listed as questionable on Friday though, as he suffered an ankle injury on Wednesday against DC.
Lonzo Ball (ankle) listed as questionable for tomorrow’s game against Milwaukee @SmoothieKing | #Pelicans https://t.co/e3spZmKFCQ
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) January 28, 2021
If there is one area where the Pels have impressed though, it’s around the rim. Steven Adams has been a force inside, grabbing 9.6 rebounds. Williamson is a bully in the paint as well and certainly does his part on that end, helping New Orleans rank fifth in the Association in boards per game.
It’s going to be exciting to see Giannis and Zion go toe-to-toe. This will definitely be an exciting sight, but I don’t believe Milwaukee will have any problem winning this contest. However, Williamson and Ingram will build off their fantastic showing on Wednesday and put up a good fight here.
Even though New Orleans is 6-10 ATS this season, it’s worth putting your money on a slimmer defeat for the home team. But in the end, the Bucks will come out victorious.
Pick: Pelicans +7 (-110)
Quinn Allen is a sports journalist, with a background and education in broadcast journalism (BCIT ’17). He writes about European Football, Basketball, and Baseball for numerous sites across the globe.