Milwaukee Bucks Favorite to Win In-Season Tournament in Las Vegas
Posted on: December 7, 2023, 11:30h.
Last updated on: December 8, 2023, 06:12h.
The Milwaukee Bucks are +170 odds to win the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament, and they’re a slight favorite over the Los Angeles Lakers (+240), New Orleans Pelicans (+360), and the high-scoring Indiana Pacers (+425).
Four teams advanced to Las Vegas for the In-Season Tournament semifinals on Thursday. The Lakers and Pelicans meet in the Western Conference semifinal, and the Bucks and Pacers slug it out in the Eastern Conference semifinal.
The winners of Wednesday’s semifinal games at T-Mobile Arena will meet in the In-Season Tournament finale on Saturday. Players on the championship team will each earn a $500K bonus for winning the In-Season Tournament. The runners-up will bank $200K each.
Despite initial skepticism and cynicism, the In-Season Tournament has been a huge hit among fans. It has been a great way to give exposure to small-market teams that don’t usually play televised games, which is the exact case with the Pacers. The In-Season Tournament provided a chance for the world to catch a glimpse of up-and-coming star point guard Tyrese Haliburton.
Milwaukee Bucks +170
Damian Lillard is thrilled at a chance to finally win something in the NBA. The veteran point guard has never been to the NBA Finals or won a championship, so the In-Season Tournament is his first opportunity to potentially hoist a trophy. Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to a championship in the 2020-21 season, but this is Lillard’s first season with the Bucks since they acquired him in a blockbuster trade with the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Bucks (15-6) have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference behind the Boston Celtics (15-5), and only the Minnesota Timberwolves (16-4) have won more games. Through the first quarter of the regular season, fans haven’t been disappointed with the pairing of Lillard and Antetokounmpo. The two will be putting their pick-and-roll skills on display in Sin City for the first semifinal game on Thursday against the Pacers.
The Bucks and Pacers played against each other only once this season. The Bucks edged out the Pacers, 126-124, but Lillard sat out the game with calf soreness. Antetokounmpo dropped 54 points in the victory, which is the most points scored in a single game by any player this season.
The Bucks are a -5 favorite on a neutral court in Las Vegas. They have a losing betting record with a 9-11-1 clip against the point spread. The Pacers are 11-8 ATS this season.
Lillard and the Antetokounmpo are second cofavorites at +400 odds to win the In-Season Tournament MVP.
LA Lakers +240
The Lakers held off the Phoenix Suns in the quarterfinals, 105-103, to advance to Las Vegas. LeBron James logged 40 minutes and led the Lakers with 31 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds, and five steals. Big man Anthony Davis added 27 points and 15 rebounds, and guard Austin Reaves dropped 20 points off the bench.
Even though the Bucks are the favorite to win the In-Season Tournament, James is the betting favorite to win the MVP at +350 odds. The Lakers saw a lot of public money backing them during the entire tournament, and they’re +240 odds to win the first In-Season Tournament.
The Lakers are a -3 favorite against the Pelicans in the semifinals. The two teams have yet to meet each other this season. The Pelicans have the sixth-best betting record in the NBA with a 13-8-1 ATS record. The Lakers have a losing record against the spread at 10-12.
New Orleans Pelicans +360
Zion Williamson has battled injuries during his entire career with the Pelicans. The former #1 pick in the draft hasn’t competed in a playoff game with the Pelicans, so this is his first chance to appear in a high-profile game.
When Williamson is healthy, he’s one of the top power forwards in the league. Right now, Williamson is in peak form and has a chance to show off his skills against James and Davis.
Small forward Brandon Ingram leads the Pelicans in scoring and assists this season with 23.7 points and 5.3 dishes per game. Willaimson is the team’s second-best scorer, averaging 22.7 points per game, but he leads the Pelicans with a 56.9% field-goal percentage.
Veteran shooting guard CJ McCollum returned to the starting lineup after he recovered from a collapsed lung. McCollum averaged 19.3 points per game since his return.
Indiana Pacers +425
Haliburton, 23, is one of the best players in the NBA who flies under the radar of casual fans. The fourth-year player is the floor general of one of the highest-scoring teams in NBA history.
Haliburton averages a career-high 26.9 points per game this season, which is 6.2 more points per game than last season. He’s the NBA assists leader with 11.9 per game.
Haliburton put his underrated skills on display in an upset over the Celtics in the semifinals. He recorded a triple-double with 26 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds in a 122-112 victory. The Celtics have the best record in the NBA, and they’re the consensus favorite to win the 2023-24 championship. But Haliburton led the Pacers to an impressive 10-point win over the Celtics in the quarterfinals.
The Pacers are a +5 underdog against the Bucks in the semifinals. The total is 257 over/under. The two teams combined for 250 points in their only meeting of the season in early November.
Haliburton is +425 odds to win the In-Season Tournament MVP.
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