Sacramento Kings @ Milwaukee Bucks FREE PICK

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Bucks free pick

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Sunday night, the sports weekend will close with the Milwaukee Bucks hosting the Sacramento Kings. February has been extremely unkind to the Bucks and the Kings might be exactly what Milwaukee needs to get back on track.

On Holiday

The big problem for Milwaukee has been the absence of point guard Jrue Holiday. The Bucks third-leading scorer has missed six consecutive games due to the league’s health and safety protocols associated with the coronavirus. Holiday averages 16.4 points, 5.4 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game for the Bucks.

Two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (28.0 ppg) can surely pick up some of the scoring slack, but Khris Middleton (20.1 ppg) has had a tough time without Holiday. In the season’s first 23 games, Middleton was on fire hitting 46.5 percent of his three-pointers. He was also among the leaders in offensive rating.

Since Holiday has been out of the lineup, Middleton’s offensive rating has dropped significantly mostly due to his poor long-range shooting. In the six games that Holiday has missed, Middleton is shooting just 28.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Kings Defense

If not for the Washington Wizards, the Sacramento Kings would be the worst defensive team in the NBA. As it stands, the Kings are 29th in points allowed per game at 119.2. There is still time to catch the Wizards who give up 119.5 per game.

The Kings, like Milwaukee, lost five straight games before heading into the weekend. In those five games, Sacramento gave up 118, 136, 124, 123, and 119 points. Where Sacramento really struggles is right when the game starts. They often find themselves down early in the first quarter.

In addition to being the NBA’s second-worst in points allowed per game, the Kings are also second-worst in average points allowed in the first quarter. Sacramento gives up 30.5 per in the opening quarter of every game. In their last three games, the Kings have been even worse allowing 32.3. In those three games, Sacramento has fallen behind by an average of 5.7 points at the end of the first quarter. Making up six points is hard enough. Making up six points against Milwaukee is even tougher.

The Bucks at Home

The recent five-game slide aside, Milwaukee is still a contender for the Eastern Conference crown. One of the reasons is that they usually win at home. They are 9-4 at Fiserv Forum this season and one of the reasons is their ability to get out to a big lead early. It could be the extra rest the Bucks get when playing at home or just the familiarity with the court. Whatever it is, Milwaukee plays well at home.

The Bucks also do very well in the first quarter. Milwaukee is third in the league in first quarter points scored. They are also the second-leading scoring team in the league (119.6) behind Brooklyn. When you take into account just home games, the Bucks are No. 1 in the NBA.

Milwaukee averages 32.6 points per first quarter at home. If you recall, Sacramento is not so good in the first quarter. The Kings give up nearly 31 points early. Now, the Kings aren’t all bad in the opening quarter of play. They do average 29.9 points in the first quarter, but in their last three games they have come out flat and scored just 26.7.

Double Play

With both teams ability to score and the fact that the Kings are awful on defense, bettors can play the Over up to 236. Both the Kings and the Bucks trend toward the Over. Sacramento has the fourth-best Over-Under mark in the league at 18-10. Milwaukee is sixth at 17-11-1.

The Over is 8-4 in the Bucks last 12 games with totals ranging from 229 to 236. Each of the Kings last four games has seen the total go Over. That includes going Over 242.5 in a game with Brooklyn last week.

In addition to the Over, bettors might want to play the Race to 20 Points prop bet. Milwaukee is the top scoring first quarter team at home in the league. They are playing a team that gives up the second-most first quarter points. The Bucks will be favored in the Race to 20, but it’s a bet worth making.

NBA FREE PICK: OVER up to 236 and/or Bucks Race to 20 Points

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