Bucks vs Cavaliers Picks and Predictions: Cleveland D Keeps Giannis in Check

A fantastic matchup looms in Cleveland tonight, as Giannis and the Bucks head to face the Cavaliers. The two-time MVP can impact the game in any way he needs but our NBA picks expect the Cavs to frustrate Giannis tonight.

Last Updated: Dec 21, 2022 12:39 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Bucks NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference will face off on Wednesday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers play host to the Milwaukee Bucks. 

The Bucks come into tonight’s game with an NBA-best 22-8 record. The Cavaliers are just two games back in the conference standings at 21-11, however, and currently hold the No. 3 seed in the East. 

This could be a key game for Cleveland, which has lost its first two meetings with Milwaukee this year and won’t want to go down 3-0 against a potential playoff foe. We’ll take a look at whether the Cavs can get on the board in the season series in our NBA picks and predictions for the Bucks vs. Cavaliers on December 21. 

Bucks vs Cavaliers best odds

Bucks vs Cavaliers picks and predictions

Both teams are coming into Wednesday’s showdown after posting solid wins over Western Conference foes on Monday. Donovan Mitchell led the Cavaliers with 23 points as they beat the Jazz in Mitchell’s first game against his former team.

The Bucks got even more out of their biggest star on Monday, as Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 42 in a 128-119 win over the Pelicans. Antetokounmpo went 12-for-17 from the floor and 17-for-22 from the free throw line in his best offensive display in nearly two months.

Monday’s performance was special, but Giannis has continued his great play for Milwaukee throughout this season. Antetokounmpo is averaging 31 points per game, the fourth-highest average in the NBA. He’s shooting 53.3% from the field while also grabbing 11.1 rebounds per night and averaging 5.2 assists. 

At age 28, Antetokounmpo remains one of the best all-around players in the NBA and a perennial MVP candidate for years to come, however, putting up big numbers against the Cavaliers presents a special challenge. Cleveland is allowing an NBA-low 104.4 points per game to opponents and plays at the slowest pace in the league. That style of play tends to dampen the numbers of everyone on the court and make it more difficult for even elite scores to put up outrageous numbers.

The Bucks have already hosted Cleveland twice this year, and Giannis’ results were mixed. He scored just 16 points in their first meeting, though he was able to go for 38 in the second meeting, as he got to the free throw line 14 times and went 13-for-20 from the floor. 

The Cavs have had success against other top stars, too. Joel Embiid scored just 19 in his only meeting with them this year, in a game that took place in Cleveland. Luka Doncic recently scored 30 against the Cavs, though that game took place in Dallas. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored just 23 points earlier this month in Cleveland. 

The Cavaliers are generally able to keep opposing superstars in line and they are especially good at doing so at home. 

Antetokounmpo can impact a game in many ways, and may find ways to help the Bucks get a third straight win against Cleveland, but he probably won’t do so with a 30+ point game. I’m betting on Giannis to go Under 29.5 points against a stingy Cleveland squad that will keep this game slow and low-scoring at home.

My best bet: Giannis Antetokounmpo Under 29.5 points (-110)

Best NBA bonuses

Looking to do some NBA betting? Here are two of the best bonuses* available:

A) New users at FanDuel can get a no-sweat first bet of up to $1,000! Sign Up Now

B) New users at DraftKings can bet $5 and get $150 in free bets! Sign Up Now

*Eligible USA locations only. Also, check out our full list of best sportsbook promotions for 2022.

Bucks vs Cavaliers spread analysis

The Cavaliers opened tonight’s game as a two-point favorite, and as of noon on Wednesday, the most common line is still Cleveland -2. 

Both of these teams have been very strong against the spread this year. Milwaukee is 17-11-2 ATS, while Cleveland comes in at 17-13-2. 

However, the Cavaliers have been particularly good at home, and that success extends to their performance for bettors as well. Not only is Cleveland 15-2 SU in its building this season, but it has gone 12-4-1 ATS at home on the season. As I discussed earlier, it has been difficult for opponents to score against the Cavaliers at home, with even the best scorers in the league struggling at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. 

The Bucks had their way with the Cavaliers in each of the first two meetings this year, winning both games by 15 points, but Cleveland played Milwaukee well last season, winning three of the four meetings. The Cavs are improved this season and extremely difficult to play at home. 

I’m taking the Cavaliers -1.5 points, but I’d also be happy to get Cleveland -2 if that’s the best number you can find.

Bucks vs Cavaliers Over/Under analysis

The Over/Under for tonight’s game opened at 217 points. The line has remained pretty stable since then, though the most common total you’ll find at sportsbooks is now 217.5.

That’s a number befitting two of the best defensive teams in the league. I’ve already talked at length about how opposing offenses struggle to put up numbers against Cleveland but the Bucks only allow 108.8 points a game themselves, good for fourth in the NBA. 

Neither the Bucks (113.1 points per game) or the Cavs (110.9 ppg) boast particularly explosive offenses, either. Cleveland does tend to be fairly efficient, ranking among the Top 10 in the NBA in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, and free-throw percentage. But the Cavaliers play so slowly that this still doesn’t add up to a lot of points — just more than their opponents can score.

Despite the low total, I’m still looking at the Under as the play tonight. In their first two meetings, these teams played to totals of 211 and 219. Both of those games took place in Milwaukee, and we know the Cavaliers play even tougher defense in Cleveland. The small number will probably mean we’re sweating this one out, but I’m playing Under 217.5.  

Bucks vs Cavaliers betting trend to know

The Under is 9-2 in Cleveland’s last 11 home games. Find more NBA betting trends for Bucks vs. Cavaliers.

Bucks vs Cavaliers game info

Location: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Cleveland, OH
Date: Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: Bally Sports Great Lakes

Bucks vs Cavaliers key injuries

Pages related to this topic

Popular Content

Legal Canadian sports betting

Best Canadian betting sites Ontario sports betting
Covers 25 Years Logo Established in 1995,
Covers is the world
leader in sports
betting information.
Covers is verified safe by: Evalon Logo GPWA Logo GDPR Logo GeoTrust Logo Evalon Logo