NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference First Round
August 20: Game 2 – Orlando Magic versus Milwaukee Bucks
The Magic went just 33-40 during the regular season versus 56-17 for the Bucks. Milwaukee took all four games between the teams during the regular season by an average of 17 points per game. Those numbers were thrown out the window in game one as the Magic shocked the Bucks, 122-110. Nevertheless, the Bucks are a 12 ½ point favorite in game two with an over/under of 227 ½.
In the first game, the Magic showed more depth and clearly just more will to win. Nikola Vucevic led the Magic with 35 points, hitting 5-of-8 from three-point range, to go along with 14 rebounds. Terrence Ross added 28 big points, while Gary Clark (15 points), Markelle Fultz (15 points), D.J. Augustin (11 points, 11 assists) and James Ennis (11 points), each played big roles in the win. Orlando made the most of every trip to the free throw line, hitting 94.7 percent.
The Bucks were led, per usual, by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 31 points, 17 rebounds, and seven assists. George Hill added 16 points and Eric Bledsoe chipped in with 15. All-Star Khris Middleton was held in check, scoring just 14 points. The Bucks struggled form the foul line, knocking down just 64.3 percent.
During the regular season, the Bucks outscored the Magic by a 118.7 to 107.3 margin. Both teams play elite level defense, holding opponents to under 109 points per game. Milwaukee has a clear rebounding edge at 51.7 to 44.5 per game, while the Magic take better care of the ball, committing just 12.2 turnovers per game. Both teams are merely average from beyond the arc.
Can the Magic pull off another upset? That appears to be unlikely, but there is a recipe for a chance. They need to slow the tempo, take care of the ball, make the most of every offensive possession, and play solid defense. It’s a lot to ask for a repeat, but I do see the Magic staying close enough to cover the spread. Expect the Bucks to win in a lower scoring game, so betting “under” is a wise play.