The Milwaukee Bucks host the New York Knicks this Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Both teams have lofty expectations this season, with the Bucks starting as co-favorites alongside the Boston Celtics to win the Eastern Conference. The Knicks made a run to the conference semifinals last season with Jalen Brunson leading the way. The Bucks have opened at on the point spread. They also are a top team to win the NBA finals.
Below, we take a closer look at Friday’s Knicks vs. Bucks matchup, with info on the odds, betting lines, and player props for the NBA game.
Lillard and Antetokounmpo looking to click
The Bucks made some big changes this offseason by trading Jrue Holiday in a three-team deal to land Damian Lillard. The returns have been good so far, but there is also room for improvement when it comes to Lillard and two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo playing together, especially in halfcourt sets. Through three games, the Bucks have the second-worst assist-to-turnover ratio (1.269) in the NBA but are still averaging the ninth-most points per game (116.7).
Knicks aiming for a better start against top teams
Last season, the Knicks went 24-25 against teams with winning records and lost all three meetings with the Bucks, extending their losing streak against Milwaukee to six games. The Knicks started the season with a 1-6 record against conference foes that would go on to make the playoffs. They finished stronger, however, and wound up beating Cleveland in a first-round series. The Knicks play the Cavs twice in a home-and-home set on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to Milwaukee for this matchup.
Giannis Antetokounmpo versus Knicks’ interior defense
The Knicks allowed the third-fewest two-point field goals and held opponents to the third-lowest field goal percentage (.462%) last season under Tom Thibodeau. Antetokounmpo averaged 29.7 points per game on 48.4% field goal shooting over three meetings with the Knicks last season. Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein will serve as the last line of defense at the rim against Giannis and the Bucks.
Jalen Brunson versus Bucks’ perimeter defense
Trading Holiday and losing Jevon Carter in free agency leaves the Bucks without a true defensive stopper on the perimeter. Malik Beasley might end up guarding Brunson to start this game, and he posted a 117.2 defensive rating last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz. Former Bucks guard Donte DiVincenzo is on the other side of this matchup now, which gives the Knicks another perimeter defender and leaves new coach Adrian Griffin with one fewer option to deploy against Brunson.
Knicks vs. Bucks odds and betting lines
Knicks vs. Bucks injury report
The Knicks have a relatively clear injury report to begin the season. Julius Randle underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle this offseason.
The Bucks have been easing Khris Middleton into action after he underwent a knee procedure this offseason. Second-year Milwaukee forward Marjon Beauchamp missed time early this week with an illness.