- The Milwaukee Bucks have been one of the league’s best teams early on, but their carelessness with the ball will hurt them against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Here are our three top plays for Tuesday night’s NBA action:
1. Washington Wizards at Dallas Mavericks (+1)
8:30 pm ET
The season hasn’t started the way the Wizards would have hoped, but the team is coming off a 108-95 win as a 6.5-point home favorite against the New York Knicks. It was a solid performance from Washington, which held New York to only 41.9% shooting from the floor. The Wizards now travel to face a Mavericks team that they should be pretty confident against here. Under head coach Rick Carlisle, the Mavericks are 3-14 against the spread in home games against teams that average 110 or more points per game. The Wizards might be underperforming, but they still have one of the most potent backcourts in basketball with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Meanwhile, second-year Dallas point guard Dennis Smith Jr. is one of the league’s worst defenders at his position. If he plays 30 or more minutes in this game then either Wall or Beal should see plenty of good looks. Wall is capable of getting to the rim whenever he wants, and Beal moves well enough off the ball to shake him for a couple of open looks from the outside. Washington matches up well elsewhere, too. Big man Dwight Howard can hold his own against DeAndre Jordan in the paint, and the Wizards have the length defensively to make things tough on Mavericks phenom Luka Doncic.
Pick: Wizards (-1)
2. Brooklyn Nets at Phoenix Suns (+2)
9:00 pm ET
The Suns are coming off a big win over the Memphis Grizzlies. After trailing most of the game, Phoenix pulled out a 102-100 win thanks to some late-game heroics from Devin Booker. But the Nets present a tough matchup for the Suns in a number of ways. Brooklyn has the types of defenders that could drive Phoenix’s scorers nuts tonight. Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen have the length to take on Booker and 2018 No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton. Outside of those two, the Suns don't have a lot of firepower. And when LeVert needs a break, sixth man Spencer Dinwiddie is more than capable of taking over. On the other end of the floor, the Suns' 28th-ranked defense is going to have trouble keeping up with Kenny Atkinson’s freewheeling offense. The Nets get as many good looks at the rim as any team in the league and are sixth in the league in effective field goal percentage (54.3%). Considering the Suns are prone to defensive breakdowns, the Nets will look to capitalize with their marksmen from the outside—D’Angelo Russell and Joe Harris.
Pick: Nets (-2)
3. Milwaukee Bucks at Portland Trail Blazers (+1.5)
10:00 pm ET
With their 8-1 record, the Bucks have been the story of the league early on. Coach Mike Budenholzer has come in and drastically changed the way Milwaukee plays. The team is now launching threes and opening up space for superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo to attack the rim. However, the Blazers are playing some really good basketball, too. After many experts predicted a down year for Portland, the team has opened the season at 7-3. It’s surprising to see them getting such little respect in their own arena. Portland should be used to it, though. Since the start of last season, the Blazers are 18-7 against the spread when the line is +3 to -3. They’re also facing a Bucks team that is just 4-14 against the spread after covering in five or six of their last seven games since the start of the 2016-17 season. Only seven teams in the league have a worse turnover rate than the Bucks. Considering Portland guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum thrive in transition, that could be a major difference tonight. Also, Al-Farouq Aminu’s length should make things more difficult on Antetokounmpo than he is used to. Look for Portland to make a statement here.
Pick: Blazers (+1.5)
Overall Record: 25-18-2