Friday NBA Odds: Bucks Favored Vs. Slumping Bulls

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (right) holds the ball above his head while being guarded by the Chicago Bulls' Troy Brown Jr. (left)
Image Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Not so long ago, the Eastern Conference was the redheaded stepchild of the NBA, the side of the league where sub-.500 squads often were in playoff contention late in the season. Well, times, they’ve definitely changed — for proof, just check the Friday NBA odds board.

Four of the top six teams in the Eastern Conference — all of whom are at least 10 games over .500 — square off against one another in pivotal late-season clashes. The defending champion Milwaukee Bucks are in the Windy City for a Central Division battle with the Bulls, while the James Harden show returns to Philly, where the surging 76ers host the upstart (but slumping) Cleveland Cavaliers.

All four squads are looking up at the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference standings — but all four are well within striking distance, no more than five games back.

Which teams have the edge both on the court and at the betting window tonight? breaks it all down in our Friday NBA betting preview.  

Odds via DraftKings and updated as of 5:45p.m. ET on March 4.

Milwaukee Bucks Vs Chicago Bulls

Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (left) drives to the basket against Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton (right)
Image Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Tipoff/TV: 7:30 p.m. ET/ESPN
Bucks: 38-25 SU/27-36 ATS
Bulls: 39-24 SU/36-26-1 ATS
Spread/Total: Bucks -5 (-105)/239.5
Last meeting: On Jan. 21, the Bucks edged Chicago 94-90, but fell way short of covering the 11.5-point spread
Did you know: Dating back to the 2016-17 season, the road team has cashed in 16 of the last 19 series meetings, with Milwaukee going 9-1 SU/ATS in Chicago

About Milwaukee: The Bucks have followed up a 1-4 SU slump with back-to-back victories over the Hornets and Heat. That said, Milwaukee misfired as a 4.5-point home chalk in Wednesday’s 120-119 victory over Miami and is now 1-6 ATS in its last seven. Having wrapped up a six-game homestand Wednesday, the Bucks hit the road, where they’ve won three of their last four SU and ATS. On the flip side, though, they’re 0-4 SU/ATS in their last four when visiting Eastern Conference foes. Milwaukee is tied for fourth in the NBA in scoring offense (113.7 ppg) but is in the middle of the pack defensively (110.2 ppg, 16th). Seven of their last eight opponents have scored at least 116 points.

About Chicago: The Bulls’ post-All-Star break freefall continued Thursday, as they dropped a 130-124 decision at Atlanta as a 2-point road underdog. Chicago has now lost three in a row SU and ATS, a slump that followed a six-game SU winning streak and a 6-1 ATS run. Defense has been severely lacking for the Bulls of late, as Thursday marked the 12th time in 16 games that they’ve surrendered at least 115 points. And only once during this stretch has Chicago held an opponent to less than 108 points. For the season, the Bulls are tied for eighth in scoring offense (112.5 ppg) while ranking 18th in scoring defense (110.8 ppg allowed). Chicago continues to play without key guards Lonzo Ball (knee) and Alex Caruso (wrist), both of whom are expected to be sidelined until the end of the month.

Editor’s Note: Looking to become a sharper NBA bettor? Check out our NBA betting guide for a few wagering tips. 

Notable Trends

  •     Milwaukee is 1-5 ATS in its last six as a favorite
  •     Milwaukee is 3-10 ATS in its last 13 following a SU victory
  •     Chicago is 22-11 ATS at home this season (9-3 ATS last 12)
  •     Chicago is 1-6 ATS in its last seven as an underdog
  •     Over is 9-1 in Milwaukee’s last 10 overall (4-0 on the road)
  •     Over is 9-1 in Chicago’s last 10 when playing a back-to-back
  •     Under is 5-2 in Chicago’s last six overall (4-1 at home)
  •     Under is 8-3 in the last 11 series meetings 

Milwaukee Bucks Vs Chicago Bulls Odds and Action

UPDATE 5:45 P.M. ET: Less than two hours before tipoff, Milwaukee sits as a 5-point chalk on DraftKings’ Friday NBA odds board. That’s after opening a skinny 1.5-point favorite Thursday night, then shooting as high as -5.5 this afternoon. The Bucks are taking a modest majority 56% of tickets, but that’s translating to 73% of money. The total rose from 238 to 240 by late this morning, but it hasn’t moved since. In fact, 80% of tickets/70% of dollars are on the Under.

Cleveland Cavaliers Vs Philadelphia 76ers 

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (left) holds the ball as he prepares to drive to the basket against Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen (right)
Image Credit: Mitchell Leff-USA TODAY Sports

Tipoff/TV: 7 p.m. ET/NBA League Pass
Cavaliers: 36-26 SU/34-26-2 ATS
76ers: 38-23 SU/31-29-1 ATS
Spread/Total: 76ers -7.5/216
Last meeting: On Feb. 12, the 76ers rolled to a 103-93 victory, easily covering as a 2.5-point home chalk
Did you know: The Cavaliers had the NBA’s best point-spread record as recently as mid-January at 29-13-3, but they’re 5-13 ATS since

About Cleveland: The Cavaliers are stuck in one of their worst slumps of the season, both on the court and at the betting counter. They’ve dropped five of their last six SU and are mired in a season-long six-game ATS slide. Cleveland started this week with a pair of home losses to Minnesota (127-122 as a 3.5-point underdog Monday) and Charlotte (119-98 as a 4-point chalk Wednesday). It’s been all about defense all season long for Cleveland, which leads the NBA in points allowed (103 per game) but ranks 26th in scoring offense (106 per game). Despite their recent struggles, the Cavaliers remain one of the NBA’s biggest surprise success stories in 2021-22, and they enter Friday in sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings.

About Philadelphia: It’s taken less than a week for the Philadelphia 76ers to prove to the NBA world that adding James Harden to their roster was a wise move. With the 2018 NBA MVP on board, the 76ers have won three games by margins of 29, 16 and 15 points while scoring 133, 125 and 123 points, respectively. Granted, the last two victories were against the Knicks (road/home), but Philly took care of business easily and is riding a four-game SU/ATS winning streak dating back to a 123-120 upset victory at Milwaukee on Feb. 17. Harden is averaging 27.3 points, nine rebounds, and 12.3 assists with the Sixers. Philadelphia, which is 12-4 SU in its last 16 games, is now tied with Chicago for second place in the East, 2.5 games behind the Heat.

Notable Trends

  •     Cleveland is 2-6-1 ATS in its last nine on the road
  •     Cleveland is 15-6 ATS as an underdog of 5 points or more
  •     Philadelphia is 5-1 ATS in its last six overall (4-0 ATS as a favorite)
  •     Over is 5-0 in Philadelphia’s last five overall
  •     Over is 7-2-1 in Cleveland’s last 10 road games
  •     Cleveland is 6-2 ATS in its last eight trips to Philadelphia
  •     Under is 7-2 in the last nine series meetings

Cleveland Cavaliers Vs Philadelphia 76ers Odds and Action

UPDATE 5:45 P.M. ET: An hour or so before game time, the 76ers are 8-point favorites at DraftKings, after opening -7.5 and bottoming out a couple of times at -7. Ticket count is 3/1 and money beyond 7/1 on Philadelphia. The total tumbled from 219.5 to 215.5 by this afternoon. But it’s since rebounded to 216.5, with tickets and money running 4/1 on the Over.