Bucks vs. Magic NBA Preview and Best Bet

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Bobby Portis #9 of the Milwaukee Bucks. Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP

The Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic run it back after meeting on Tuesday night. The Bucks won pretty easily on Tuesday; will they do so again? Which team is the right NBA pick?

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Orlando Magic

Thursday, December 30, 2021 – 7:00 PM EST at Amway Center

Milwaukee Bucks

The win over Orlando on Tuesday night was Milwaukee's 4th in a row. Milwaukee has won five of their last seven. Milwaukee is also 17-5 in their last 22 games. Milwaukee had a bit of a championship hangover and started the season with injuries to Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton. Now that the team is at full strength, they have returned to their Championship form.

Bobby Portis has been a big part of the Bucks improved play as of late. Portis scored 19 points in the win on Tuesday night. Portis is a fan favorite. His scrappy style of play endeared him to the Milwaukee crowd. Portis' big contributions in the playoffs last year have carried over to this season, and once again, Portis' play is key to the success of the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Milwaukee Bucks have a surprisingly low point differential of +3.8. The Bucks in the past have led the league in point differential, on their way to the top of the standings in the Eastern Conference. After multiple deep runs in the playoffs, with last year's run culminating in a championship, maybe this is a sign that the Bucks are taking things easier in the regular season. The Bucks are also 11-8 on the road SU this season. The Bucks are 10-9 ATS on the road.

Orlando Magic

The Magic were quite shorthanded in the loss to Milwaukee at home on Tuesday. Cole Anthony, Michael Carter-Williams, Chime Okeke, and Jalen Suggs will all miss the game. However, help may be on the way in the form of Mo Bamba and Terrence Ross, who are both game-time decisions. Both Ross and Bamba are hoping to test out of covid protocols to be able to participate in the game.

This could be a boost for the Orlando team that has struggled on both ends of the floor. Bamba is an excellent, versatile defender who has really blossomed into a solid NBA contributor this season. Bamba's size and quickness make him a versatile defensive piece in the frontcourt and can help shut down a team with a lot of size like the Milwaukee Bucks.

Terrence Ross would help the Magic on the offensive end if he's able to return. Ross has a reliable jump shot and can create off the dribble when needed in half-court situations. If Bamba and Ross are able to return, it would be a boon to the Magic and be very beneficial in their hopes to have a more competitive game this evening.

Franz Wagner led the team in scoring with 38 points in the loss on Tuesday night. Wagner has been a pleasant surprise for Orlando at the 8th pick. It could be reasonably argued that Wagner has been the third-best rookie so far this season, and his performance on Tuesday night helped solidify this claim. In addition to the scoring and rebounding, Wagner plays excellent defense for a rookie and is one of the bright spots for the Magic this season.

Key Matchup

Khris Middleton vs. Franz Wagner

Middleton is the type of impact player that Wagner hopes to develop into. Middleton plays excellent defense, can space the floor with his three-point shooting, and also create in the mid-range when his team desperately needs a bucket.

Franz Wagner possesses all those traits, he just needs to develop to be able to perform them consistently night in and night out like Middleton does. If Wagner is able to repeat his big performance, the Magic could cover against the NBA odds.

If Middleton is able to prevent Wagner from having another big night, the Bucks could win by even a larger margin than they did in the last game.

Best Bet

Don't overthink this game! We have the defending NBA champions versus a depleted rebuilding team. There are not a lot of adjustments the Magic can make to make this any closer. The Bucks have the advantage in talent and experience.

The Magic are still learning how to compete at an NBA level. I expect a repeat of Tuesday night's game. The Bucks will win and cover the spread.

NBA Pick: Milwaukee Bucks -12.5 (-110) with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Milwaukee Bucks -12.5 (-110)
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