Even with big names listed on the injury report, this matchup between the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks still poses as a big one with the Bucks sitting one and a half games back in the Eastern standings. Health has been an issue for Milwaukee all season long, but it seems that the tide has taken a turn with them getting healthy and the Celtics catching the injury bug. Can Milwaukee take advantage and close the gap in the standings?
Boston Celtics vs Milwaukee Bucks Betting Odds
Oddsmakers think so as they opened the Bucks as a -4 favorite on their home court. That was until Jayson Tatum popped up on the injury report overnight as Doubtful, drastically shifting the number to -8.5 for the Bucks. Potentially without Tatum, bettors are still hammering the Bucks as this number has increased to -9 as of writing. Even in desperation mode to close the gap in the standings, this is still a stay away from me until we get injury confirmation.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the total at 226. The total was not opened until the Tatum news, already baking his injury status into the number. With that said, bettors still lean towards the under, taking it down to 225.5 in some shops. This number brings intrigue as we have some data on how bad the Celtics offense can be without Tatum in the lineup. The Celtics went on a losing stretch during that period, failing to score at an average rate.
Boston Celtics vs Milwaukee Bucks Prediction
The Pick: Under 225.5
With that said, I will take the under at 225.5 for a small wager as I expect to see the same Celtics struggles as we did earlier in the year when Tatum was dealing with an injury. Not only is he expected to be out of this one, but his partner in crime Jaylen Brown is out as well with a facial fracture. That leaves the Celtics without their two leading scorers and only players who are capable of generating their own shot off the dribble at a consistent rate.
To make matters worse, the Celtics interior is also potentially dealing with a massive void as both Grant Williams and Robert Williams are listed as Questionable on the injury report. An interior presence is crucial against the Bucks, needing big bodies to absorb contact against Giannis during his drives to potentially force him into a mistake. This does bode as some concern for our total, but also gives a potential chance for a blowout that would lead to Giannis resting down the stretch.
Still, this handicap is largely predicated on the struggles that the Celtics offense will endure and the numbers back up that claim. Without Tatum and Brown on the court, the Celtics score 107.9 points per 100 possessions per Cleaning the Glass, and now go against an elite defense to make life for them even worse. They will be at a massive disadvantage in the interior for high quality looks at the rim, relying on outside production against a Bucks team that smothers looks at the perimeter at an elite rate.
- Celtics are 25-10-1 ATS in their last 36 meetings against each other
- Over is 7-2 in the last nine meetings in Milwaukee
- Celtics are 6-0-1 ATS in their last seven meetings in Milwaukee
Can the Celtics slow down the Bucks offense enough for our under ticket?
Bucks three-point shooting vs Celtics perimeter defense
With Khris Middleton rounding back into form, the Bucks offense has been back to their elite ways with dual threat scoring. They can attack you from all three levels with Giannis drives to the basket and Jrue and Middleton burning you from the perimeter or mid range.
The Celtics defense has been the best in the league and will be sure to salvage some of that production even when battling injuries. We may see them sell out towards the perimeter, allowing Giannis to drive to the basket if this gets out of hand early. This would slow down the scoring rate, bleeding precious time off the clock.
Take the under at no lower than 225 in what could be a potential blowout.
Boston Celtics Starting Lineup
Milwaukee Bucks Starting Lineups
Boston Celtics Injuries: Marcus Smart (O), Jaylen Brown (O), Malcolm Brogdon (P), Jayson Tatum (D), Grant Williams (Q), Robert Williams III (Q)
Milwaukee Bucks Injuries: Giannis Antekounmpo (P), Pat Connaughton (P), Bobby Portis (O), Jae Crowder (O)