Bucks vs. Celtics Game 2 Preview: Time for Boston to Bounce Back

Tyler Schmidt previews the NBA Playoffs Game 2 matchup on Tuesday, May 3 between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics.

Bucks vs. Celtics Odds

Bucks Odds +4
Celtics Odds -4
Over/Under 215
Time 7 p.m. ET
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Arguably the most exciting second-round matchup is between the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks, as they are the two top favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference. The Bucks got home-court advantage after their Game 1 victory, but this series is far from over — Boston is too good.

These two teams split their meetings during the regular season, and we can expect more competitive games throughout this series.

These are two great defensive teams who also have the star power to lift their production offensively. It is hard to see the Celtics losing back-to-back home games, but the question is: will they cover?

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Middleton’s Absence to Catch Up With Bucks?

Despite not having Khris Middleton, the Milwaukee Bucks continued to dominate with a 101-89 victory in Game 1. The Bucks have won each of their last four games by an average of 20.5 points, and they have covered the spread in all four games, rather convincingly.

The Bucks are once again road underdogs on Tuesday, as they are playing with house money after shifting home-court advantage in Game 1.

Besides Middleton, the only other player who is out for Game 2 is point guard George Hill. Those are a couple of big losses, but it’s nothing the Bucks can’t handle.

Giannis Antetokounmpo struggled shooting 36% from the field last game, but he still managed to record a triple-double (24 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists). Giannis shot 57.8% from the field in the first round, but the Celtics create a much tougher matchup — they led the league in defensive rating.

Jrue Holiday and Grayson Allen have stepped up in the absence of Middleton, as well. Holiday had 25 points, nine rebounds and five assists in Game 1, while Allen has averaged 18.3 points per game and is shooting 64.3% from the field and 65.4% from behind the arc in the last four games.

Bobby Portis and Brook Lopez have been fantastic on the glass and are making it difficult for opponents to score in the paint. Both had double-digit rebounds in Game 1, and the Bucks rank fourth in rebounding percentage in the playoffs, in large part to Portis and Lopez.

They also stretch the floor, allowing driving lanes for Giannis.

The Bucks have been so good without Middleton lately, but a let down seems inevitable. He averaged over 20 points per game for the fourth time in his last five seasons, while also averaging over five rebounds and five assists per game.

His absence hasn’t been felt yet, but it feels like it is coming very soon.

Bounce-Back Performance Inevitable for C’s?

After a surprising four-game series sweep over the Brooklyn Nets, the Boston Celtics lost Game 1 at home by 12 points.

In the process, they got beat up pretty good. Marcus Smart suffered a shoulder and quad injury, and Robert Williams left with a groin injury. Smart is questionable for Game 2, while Williams is probable to play.

The Celtics really struggled, shooting only 33.3% from the field in Game 1.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined to shoot 32.3%, as they only scored 33 points. That will not cut it if the Celtics are looking to compete in this series. Tatum and Brown combined to average 52 points per game in their series against the Nets.

Tatum has been incredible this season. He averaged a career-high 26.9 points per game, as he has increased his scoring in every season since joining the NBA. Brown wasn’t too far behind, averaging 23.6 points per game.

Both were in the top-20 in terms of scoring, and they are one of the best duos in the league.

If Smart is unable to go, the Celtics are going to need to rely on their team defense, which is the best in the league. They allowed opponents to score a league-low 104.5 points per game during the regular season. Having Williams has been huge, as they ranked second in points per game allowed in the paint.

Al Horford has been another key piece to the Celtics’ success, and he is needed to pair with Williams on the last line of defense. Horford had a double-double in Game 1, with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Horford and Williams combined for five blocks in Game 1, and the C’s may need a similar effort from the two on Tuesday.

The Celtics covered the spread in three of their four games against the Nets. Don’t forget this team is the hottest in the league — they have won 30 of their last 37 games!

More than anything, Game 1 feels like a bit of a fluke from the Celtics. This is a must-win game for them, so expect a bounce-back performance.

Bucks-Celtics Pick

Prior to their Game 1 loss, the Celtics had not been defeated at home by the Bucks since the 2018-19 season.

It’s hard to see the Bucks winning two games on the road with these two teams so close in talent, especially when Middleton is out. I also think the Celtics not only win, but they cover.

I would bet the Celtics up to -5. I think they deliver in a big way tonight.

I also don’t mind taking a peek at the Bucks under team total of 105.5 points.

Pick: Boston Celtics -4 (-110)