The Denver Nuggets have the best record in the Western Conference at 34-14 and are just a half-game behind the Celtics for the best overall mark in the NBA. There's no way oddsmakers would list Denver as an 8-point underdog in any game if they think two-time MVP Nikola Jokic is playing. Yet the Nuggets are sitting on that number Wednesday as they visit the Milwaukee Bucks and two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Jokic returned from a two-game injury absence (hamstring) Tuesday in New Orleans and was brilliant with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, his fourth straight game with a triple-double. It was his sixth in the past seven and 15th of the season. This is the third time Jokic has recorded at least 15 triple-doubles in a season, breaking a tie with Wilt Chamberlain for the most such seasons in NBA history by a non-guard.
Denver is 15-0 in those triple-double games this year after Jokic hit a go-ahead floater with 16.9 seconds left in the 99-98 victory over the Pelicans. Jokic said his lingering hamstring tightness is "not something major. So, hopefully it's going to be good."
Because the Nuggets played last night, their injury report for tonight isn't out yet and thus no player props posted either. Michael Porter Jr. sat out a second straight game Tuesday due to a family issue and it's not clear if he will play tonight. Guard Jamal Murray had 25 points but rarely plays both ends of a back-to-back, so he may sit. Even without Murray and Porter, the Nuggets would not be +8 if Jokic was playing. He is -140 to win a third straight MVP.
Antetokounmpo is +1300 to win his third career MVP. He returned from a five-game injury absence (knee soreness) on Monday and had 29 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in a blowout of the Pistons. After averaging 12.7 points over the last three games before sitting out five, Giannis scored 15 points in the first six minutes and 20 points in the first quarter. He only played 27 minutes overall.
The Bucks' 150 points were season high and tied for the second-most scored by any team in the NBA this season. It was the most points Milwaukee scored since the 2019-20 season when it dropped 151 on Washington on Jan. 28 and was just the seventh 150-point game in franchise history. It was also the Bucks' third time in their last four games scoring at least 130 after doing so only once in the first 43 games of the season.
Milwaukee has now had its Big Three of Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton (also returned Monday from injury) and Jrue Holiday for only six games this season. The team is 4-2 and averaging 118.7 points per game (which would rank 2nd in the NBA) when all three play, compared to a season average of 113.2 PPG. The Bucks will be without Sixth Man of the Year candidate Bobby Portis for a while due to an MCL sprain in his knee. His 29 double-doubles are fourth in the NBA.
This is the first meeting of the season between these teams.
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