Currently, the Bucks hold a -200 moneyline and a -4.5 spread (BetMGM). However, Stan Son at The Athletic gives New York more than a fighting chance in his latest article, “NBA In-Season Tournament odds, expert picks, schedule: Previewing the knockout stage.” ($)
Milwaukee and New York came out of Group B, with the Knicks getting through on a Wild Card. The Bucks dispatched New York, Charlotte, Washington, and Miami to clear the first round. The Knicks beat those teams, too, just not Milwaukee. The Knicks lost that one to the Bucks 110-105 due to a terrible shooting night. Don’t expect Milwaukee to get so lucky a second time.
Damian Lillard on what it's going to take to knock the Knicks out of the In-Season Tournament Tuesday: "We gotta control the ball. Jalen Brunson is aggressive. He's playing w/ a lot of confidence & he's the head of the snake, so we gotta handle that. We just can't let everybody… pic.twitter.com/inJEGItxIp— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) December 4, 2023
Son observes that only the Bucks and the Pacers topped 500 points in Group Play; however, the Knicks were the only team to surrender under 400. That makes sense: Milwaukee has a top offense but a bottom-third defense; the Knicks have a top-tier defense but are middle-of-the-pack on the other end.
Son observes that the Bucks, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard (still getting used to that), have dominated at home with an 8-1 record. But, he writes, “I like the Knicks to go into Milwaukee and turn that M upside down and walk away with the W. Defense travels, and Jalen Brunson is playing very well right now. Shooting over 50% from downtown is unlikely to be replicated by Milwaukee.”
As for the other matchups: Son likes the Suns over the Lakers if Booker is healthy (easy pick, Stan), the Sacramento Kings over the New Orleans Pelicans, and the Celtics over the Pacers. If his predictions hold true, that would pair Phoenix vs. Sacramento in the West and New York vs. Boston in the East for the next stage. After that, he thinks Boston will win it all.
Can’t wait for New York to prove him wrong and hoist that Cup. Go Knicks!