New Orleans Pelicans vs. Milwaukee Bucks Prediction, Preview, Picks & Odds - 1/1/2022

by Chuck Sommers

Saturday, Jan 01, 2022
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
Where to watch: Bally Sports Wisconsin, Bally Sports New Orleans

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: Bucks -11; O/U 221.5; Bucks -675, Pelicans +475
BetMGM: Bucks -10.5; O/U 221.5; Bucks -556, Pelicans +400
Caesars: Bucks -11; O/U 222; Bucks -714, Pelicans +475

Season record
Pelicans: 13-22 (13th place, West)
Bucks: 24-13 (3rd place, East)

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Pelicans-Bucks preview and analysis

Recent form
Pelicans: won five of six; won 108-104 vs. Cavaliers on Tuesday
Bucks: won five straight; won 136-118 at Magic on Thursday

It's a battle of one red-hot team that's expected, and another that defies logic for this New Year's Day when the New Orleans Pelicans visit the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.

The Bucks have won five straight and are coming off a road back-to-back sweep of the Orlando Magic, the most recent being a 136-118 win on Thursday at Amway Center. Giannis Antetokounmpo did what the two-time MVP does on many occasions, which is dominate.

Antetokounmpo finished with 33 points along with 12 rebounds and five assists, hitting over 30 points for the second time in three games. Jrue Holiday had 25 points on 8 of 11 shooting to go with seven assists, and Khris Middleton had 22 points on just 6 of 15. Milwaukee is 7-0 this season when it has three players score 20 points in a game.

As expected, it was an easy game for Milwaukee's Big Three offensively. The defense you can understand if that unit took its foot off the gas because of the knowledge the champs would pulverize the young Magic without Cole Anthony or Jalen Suggs in the lineup.

Middleton (personal) will not play on Saturday, meaning it's likely that Donte DiVincenzo will slot back into the lineup for his fourth game this season after returning from a torn ligament in his ankle. The former first-round pick out of Villanova has averaged 7.3 points and 5.7 rebounds in 16.7 minutes, which is a good sign for his per-36 numbers.

DiVincenzo had 11 points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes on Thursday.

The Pelicans, meanwhile, have looked formidable despite being bottom feeders in the Western Conference and dealing with their own lineup problems. New Orleans pulled off a 108-104 upset over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.

New Orleans trailed by as many as 23 in the first quarter but was able to rally back after the Cavs lost Ricky Rubio to a season-ending knee injury. The Pelicans got a career-high 26 points from Herbert Jones, and Garrett Temple made five 3-pointers to propel the comeback.

More importantly, the Pelicans did this without Brandon Ingram. The all-star forward is questionable after missing time with an Achilles injury and could be an option. Josh Hart could also return after missing time with an ankle injury.

New Orleans has won two of the last three matchups after Milwaukee won the previous four. The Pelicans have covered the last three and seven of the last 10 overall.


This has the potential to be a high-scoring matchup seeing how the over has gone 5-1 in New Orleans' last six and how Milwaukee allowed a shorthanded Magic team to score nearly 120 points in both meetings. Defense will play a role, and I think Holiday returning to New Orleans again will put a fire in the Bucks to win this game and cover narrowly. Bucks by 13

Betting trends

The Pelicans are 49-51 ATS as an underdog over the past three seasons.

The Pelicans are 26-29 ATS in their last 55 following two straight overs.

The Bucks are 7-18 ATS in their last 25 against Southwest Division opponents.

The Bucks are 19-8 ATS in the last 27 after leading the last two games by at least 10 points at halftime.

Projected starting lineup

PG: Devonte' Graham
SG: Brandon Ingram
Josh Hart
Herbert Jones
Willy Hernangomez

PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Donte DiVincenzo
Pat Connaughton
Giannis Antetokounmpo
Bobby Portis

Key injuries

Pelicans: Zion Williamson (foot, out), Jonas Valanciunas (COVID, out)

Bucks: Khris Middleton (personal, out), Brook Lopez (back surgery, out)

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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