This Sunday, the (22-10) Milwaukee Bucks will travel to Boston, MA to take on the (23-10) Boston Celtics. Tipoff will be at 5:00 PM EST inside TD Garden. This will be the first time that these two teams have matched up this season, as I am expecting a battle on Christmas Day!
The Milwaukee Bucks are coming into this one after falling to the Brooklyn Nets, 118-110 on Friday. Milwaukee struggled on the defensive end of the court, as they allowed the Nets to shoot 49.5% from the floor. They will have to contest more shots in this one if they want to challenge the Celtics on the road.
The Boston Celtics are entering this matchup after defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves, 121-109 on Friday. Boston looked great on both ends of the floor, as they will have to stay efficient in this one if they want to take care of business at home.
Can the Bucks Bounce Back on Christmas Day?
The Milwaukee Bucks are currently in second place in the Eastern Conference standings, as they trail the first-place Celtics by .5 a game. On offense, they are scoring 112.5 points per game and they are shooting 46.1% from the floor. This is the 17th most points scored per contest and the 22nd highest team shooting percentage. According to dunksandthrees.com, the Bucks have an adjusted offensive efficiency rating of 112.2, which is the 15th-highest rating in the NBA. Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to lead the way on the offensive end of the floor, as he is scoring 31.6 points per game on 53.7% shooting from the field. Milwaukee has also shown that they are much more successful when they are attacking the basket. They only shot 35% from deep, which is the 17th-highest three-point shooting percentage. Milwaukee has continued to leave points on the court, as well. They are only shooting 74% from the charity stripe, which is the 27th-highest free-throw shooting percentage in the league.
On the defensive end of the court, the Milwaukee Bucks are surrendering 109.2 points and they have forced their opponents to shoot 45.1% from the floor. This is the fifth least amount of points surrendered per game and the second-lowest shooting percentage allowed. According to that dunksandthrees.com, the Bucks have an adjusted defensive rating of 109.1, which is the second-lowest rating in the NBA. Milwaukee also continued to contest shots near the rim and on the outside. They are holding their opponents to 35% shooting from behind the arc, which is the ninth-lowest three-point shooting percentage allowed. The Bucks have continued to crash the offensive and defensive glass, as well. They are snatching 48.3 rebounds per game, which is the second most. They can’t allow the Celtics to score second-chance points if they want to stay in this game.
Injury Report: Kris Middleton SF (Knee) is questionable.
Are the Celtics Heating Back Up?
The Boston Celtics are still in first place in the Eastern Conference standings, as they have a .5-game lead over the second-place Bucks. On offense, they are scoring 118.1 points per game and they have shot 47.6% from the floor. This is the second most points scored per contest and the 12th-highest team shooting percentage. According to that dunksandthrees.com, the Celtics have an adjusted offensive rating of 117.3, which is the highest rating in the NBA. Jayson Tatum continues to lead the way on the offensive end of the court, as he is scoring 30.6 points per game on 47.2% shooting from the field. Boston has also shown that they have multiple players that can stay behind the arc and make it rain. They are shooting 37.6% from deep, which is the sixth-highest three-point shooting percentage in the league. The Boston Celtics will need to stay hot at the charity stripe, as well. They have made 82.8% of their free throws this season, which is the highest percentage in the NBA. They can’t miss out on these free looks at the basket and still expect to win these games.
On the defensive end of the court, the Celtics are allowing 112.2 points and they have forced their opponents to shoot 46.6% from the floor. This is the 13th lowest amount of points surrendered per contest and the 13th lowest shooting percentage allowed. According to dunksandthrees.com, the Celtics have an adjusted defensive rating of 111.6, which is the eighth-lowest rating in the NBA. Boston has also shown that they will contest shots near the rim and on the perimeter. They are allowing their opponents to shoot 35.1% from behind the arc, which is the 10th-lowest three-point shooting percentage allowed in the league. The Boston Celtics will need to continue crashing the offensive and defensive glass, as well. They are grabbing 43.8 rebounds per game, which is the 11th most.
Injury Report: Robert Williams III C (Illness) is questionable.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
I am going to take the Celtics and I am going to lay the points (-4.5) at home. They are scoring the second most points per game and they have continued to score from anywhere on the floor. They will attack the basket and make it rain from deep, as I don’t see the Bucks being able to slow them down. I also don’t see the Bucks being able to score enough points to cover this spread. According to dunksandthrees.com, the Bucks have the 15th-highest adjusted offensive rating and they are only scoring the 17th most points per game. Boston will show up on both ends of the court and get consistent stops throughout this game. This will lead to easy points going the other way, as the Celtics are going to slowly pull away on Christmas Day. Boston is better on the defensive end than most people think and Tatum and Brown are going to want to go off in front of the entire country. The Boston Celtics will dominate on both ends of the court and take care of business at home.
Pick the Celtics and lay the points (-4.5).
Prediction: Boston Celtics -4.5
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Full-Game Total Pick
I am going to hammer the under (225.5) in this game, as I don’t see either of these teams scoring enough points to push this total over the number. The Milwaukee Bucks are one of the best defensive teams in the league, as I see them making it difficult for the Celtics to consistently score in this game. They will apply pressure near the rim and on the outside, as the Celtics will struggle to find open shots. I also see both of these teams slowing the ball down and limiting the number of shots taken from the floor. According to dunksandthrees.com, they have the 14th and the 15th highest adjusted pace ratings, as they won’t be sprinting the ball up the court in this game. It will be an average pace and both of these teams are good enough defensively to keep this total under the number. Boston has the ninth-lowest adjusted defensive rating and the Bucks have the second-lowest. These are two of the better defensive teams in the NBA, as I see this being a battle until the very end. The under is also 4-1 in the last five meetings between these two teams in Boston. I’m going to trust history in this one.
Pick the under (225.5) and expect a defensive battle!
Prediction: Under 225.5