The first two games of this series have been low-scoring, defense-forward games and that does not look to change. Marcus Smart returns to the lineup for Boston, in a series that has played slower than some would have expected. Especially considering the number of turnovers that have happened so far, 32.5 per game.
Milwaukee dropped game 2 to Chicago at home, so they are far from unbeatable at Fiserv Forum and the trend in pace, does lean towards being an advantage for the Celtics. The game is clearly critical in what should be the series that sends the Eastern Conference representative to the NBA Finals.
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Bucks vs. Celtics Betting Odds
*Lines accurate at time of publication
Celtics vs. Bucks Best Bets
Celtics vs. Bucks 4Q u56.5 (-102, FanDuel)
Just looking at the post-all star break numbers, this would likely make your head turn with both teams being in the top five in fourth-quarter scoring but it has been a completely different story in the playoffs.
In the two games in this series, the total has averaged 44 points in the fourth. If you take into account the first-round series for both teams, minus that abomination that was Bucks-Bulls game one, they combine to average 49.8 points in the fourth quarter. In the 11 combined playoff games for these teams, they have gone under this number in 8 of the 11.
In a series that has been slower-paced than either team played in the regular season, the fourth has really bogged down into a halfcourt slugfest. The pace overall in the two games is 96.8 but in the fourth quarter, it has slowed all the way down to 89.0. This is critical, especially for the Bucks based on how abysmal they have been in the halfcourt these playoffs.
In the halfcourt, Milwaukee has an offensive rating of 89.2. To compare, after the all-star break, their offensive rating in the halfcourt was 103.3. When you isolate just the two games of this series, the Bucks offensive rating is 83.2. They desperately need to get turnovers and push to be effective but in the fourth, that has not been happening.
Risk: 1.02 units on FanDuel to win 1 unit. (Playable to -116)
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Bucks vs. Celtics Game Total Under 213 (-110, FanDuel)
The losing team has been held under 100 in each game and even with Boston turning the ball over enough to boost the Milwaukee offense, the importance was referenced above, neither team has been able to touch 110 yet. The games in the series have finished at 190 and 195 so far, so it has a feel of this possibly being the last game with a total in this zip code if a similar result happens.
A development that was not expected has been the three-point shooting differential, where Boston has been the team to take 41 more than their opponent. You think of the Bucks as Giannis Antetokounmpo driving and kicking to an open shooter but that has not been the case. That lowers the ceiling of Milwaukee’s offense and adds variance to Boston’s. The return of Marcus Smart to the starting lineup should help Boston’s defense that much more and allow them to cut Derrick White down more if he remains ineffective.
Risk: 1.1 units on FanDuel to win 1 unit. (Playable to -120)
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