An Eastern conference matchup that many wanted to see is here now, between the No. 2 Boston Celtics and the No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks.
Both teams handled their business in the first round, with Boston sweeping the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee handling the Chicago Bulls in five games. The Bucks come into the series at a health disadvantage with Khris Middleton out, while the Celtics are very close to 100%.
The teams split the four regular-season matchups but three of those came before Boston turned their season around. So while these are teams that have playoff experience, there is still a fair amount of unknown in the specific matchup.
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Bucks vs. Celtics Betting Odds
*Lines accurate at the time of publication
Bucks vs. Celtics Best Bets
Celtics -4.5 (-110, BetMGM)
Winning the title last year changed the perception of Mike Budenholzer and the Bucks but the game 1 stigma still remains. Milwaukee is 0-7 ATS in game 1s going back through the bubble playoffs. Clearly, the Bucks have improved as the series goes on and they have tape to make adjustments off of but for the sake of game 1, it has to be taken into account.
Where Milwaukee will likely miss Khris Middleton most, is as another defender to be able to throw at Jayson Tatum. The Bucks started Bobby Portis and played big in his absence against Chicago but with the wings of Boston, it could make sense to start Pat Connaughton and let Giannis do what he does best as an off-ball rim protector.
Boston comes into the series rolling but they are only 3-4 ATS in their last seven-game 1s and they dropped the first game 1 ATS of Ime Udoka’s coaching career. Boston’s health and shooting should lead them to the early series lead as Milwaukee will likely load up on Tatum and Brown and dare the role players to beat them. The difference compared to the Chicago series, is Boston’s role players can make Milwaukee pay.
Risk: 1.1 units on BetMGM to win 1 unit. (Playable to -120)
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Bucks vs. Celtics Game Total Under 217.5 (-108, FanDuel)
These two teams have combined to go under the total nine times in their combined last 14 game ones. The last two defensive players of the year are in this game and both teams have shown to come out with a fairly basic game plan to start the series and make their adjustments.
In terms of the personnel, it leads to being more of a defensive game with Boston not having many matchups that Giannis can truly hunt with the number of bodies the Celtics can throw at Giannis. Rotating between Horford, Robert Williams, Jayson Tatum and Grant Williams can help to minimize foul issues and keep fresh defenders on Giannis.
Milwaukee will dare Boston to hit a lot of threes to win and take away the paint. The role players for Boston shot well in round 1 but three-point shooting is rarely consistent over long stretches. Many more factors lend to the under than the other way.
Risk: 1.08 units on FanDuel to win 1 unit. (Playable to -116)
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