Celtics vs. Bucks Odds
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
This is a key game for the top of the East standings. What can we expect as the regular season winds down and these two teams prepare for the postseason? Let’s take a look at both sides and find out.
Celtics Cruising to Close the Season
The Celtics just took care of business against the Chicago Bulls and although they are tied with both Bucks and the 76ers in the loss column, they have one more win and also hold tiebreaker advantages against both of them.
This game is important to secure the No. 2 seed, but the Celtics certainly do not need it. This will be their second game in as many days, and it may behoove Boston to rest their stars, especially since Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Al Horford were all listed as probable on Wednesday’s injury report.
The Celtics have been outstanding in the second half of the year. They have rounded into form and have not slowed down. They have the second-best Adjusted Net Rating (+6.9) and that’s in large part due to their top-ranked Adjusted Defensive Rating (106.6).
They’ve kept this up despite losing Robert Williams — over the last two weeks the Celtics have the league’s best point differential (+16.6) and they’ve cruised to a 5-2 record. Their depth has been on full display.
The one issue for Boston is their transition offense, they are scoring just 121.0 points per 100 transition plays; however, Boston has generally stuck to its strength which is their halfcourt offense. Since March 1, Boston has the best halfcourt offense in the league, and they scoring 107.1 points per 100 plays, per Cleaning the Glass. This bodes well for them in the playoffs when the games generally slow down, and there is a greater emphasis on defense, but it also means they can always collect themselves to find the best shot.
The one concern is that this team obviously depends very heavily on both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown (as they should, they are both certifiable studs). When both are off the floor, the Celtics have struggled and the team has a point differential of -13.4 and they score just 103.1 points per 100 possessions while allowing 116.5.
If Tatum and Brown are to sit, this Celtics team would be in trouble.
Bucks Are Elite With Top Stars
The Bucks have listed Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) as probable and Grayson Allen (hip) as doubtful for this game, but I expect the Bucks to play the majority of their starters against the Celtics in this front-end of a back-to-back considering their Friday game is against the Detroit Pistons. With that in mind, the Bucks may have a significant edge on the Celtics in this game.
The Bucks are finally whole and they are rounding into form just in time for the Playoffs. But the key for the Bucks is their trio of Holiday, Middleton, and Antetokounmpo. When those three share the floor, the Bucks own a dominant +11.2 point differential while scoring 120.4 points per 100 possessions and allowing just 109.2, per Cleaning the Glass.
As long as any one of them is on the floor, the Bucks have a +5.5 point differential in those possessions, so the entire roster complements and can play well with each other.
The Bucks should be able to capitalize on the absence of Williams on the interior. While the Bucks do not attack the rim at a high rate, they are extremely effective when they do shooting 67.9% at the rim.
Without Robert Williams, Giannis should have an easier time getting into the paint and putting the pressure on this elite Boston defense.
If this game had a more significant impact on the playoffs it would shape up to be an all-time regular-season game; however, given the tiebreaker scenario and the back-to-backs, I think it may fall short of our lofty expectations.
Boston has been better over the last two weeks but it would not be a surprise to see them rest their starters. Additionally, on no rest, the Celtics are just 6-7-1 ATS, which is a significant departure from their 41-36-2 ATS record overall.
I’ll back the Bucks at home and would not be surprised to see this line balloon into double-digits if the Celtics rest Brown and Tatum. If that is the case, I’d take a full-strength Bucks team up to -10.
Pick: Bucks -6