Celtics vs. Bucks Game 3 Betting Preview: Bet on Boston as Short Home Favorite?

Celtics vs. Bucks Game 3 Betting Preview: Bet on Boston as Short Home Favorite? article feature image

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) and forward Jayson Tatum (0).

Game 3 Betting Odds: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics

  • Spread: Celtics -2
  • Over/Under: 220
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: ESPN
  • Series Score: Tied 1-1

>> All odds as of Thursday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.

Two games. Two blowouts.

The Celtics are back at home as a short favorite. Are they a good bet in this spot? Our analysts dive in.

Betting Trends to Know

Under Brad Stevens, the Celtics are 19-3 against the spread as a favorite in the playoffs, including 8-0 ATS when listed as a small favorite of three or fewer points. In those eight games, Boston has covered the spread by an average of 10 points per game. John Ewing

Did you know? This season, the Bucks are 37-18-3 ATS (67.3%) when facing Eastern Conference teams, profiting bettors $1,678 on $100 per bet. The last time a team finished a season more profitable ATS than the Bucks this year was the 2010-11 Memphis Grizzlies. Evan Abrams

The Bucks have played five games this season as an underdog against an Eastern Conference team. They are 4-1 straight up and ATS in those games, with their only loss coming against … you guessed it, the Celtics in Boston as a 2.5-point underdog. –Abrams

Locky: My Thoughts on Game 3

There was something so predictable about Game 2. Boston had already achieved the split that experienced road playoff teams so strongly desire, and Giannis Antetokounmpo had played so poorly in Game 1 that he was bound to be more aggressive.

Those factors combined with Khris Middleton’s extremely hot shooting made Game 2 not just a resounding Bucks victory, but a runaway laugher. Very little of that has to do with Game 3, in my opinion.

Not only does the series shift to Boston, but I think whereas the Celtics may have been very comfortable with the level of domination they had in Game 1, they head into Game 3 knowing it is much closer to a must-win situation.

Kyrie Irving is coming off one of the worst games of his playoff career and figures to be improved. We are still waiting for anything from Jayson Tatum, who has basically been absent from the series thus far.

The biggest thing is, the first two games have (in my opinion) shown as that there is very little between these teams, and that when each executes their game plan effectively, and a has a star that plays well, they can dominate.

Nothing has been “proven” in terms of who should actually really be favored thus far. So for the Celtics, with a great home-court advantage generally in the playoffs, to only be a 2-point favorite just signals to me that the number may be a little short.

Milwaukee is still being given some credit, when I’m not sure any is deserved. If these teams really are even, Boston is the play here at -2, and that’s what I’ll be betting. — Ken Barkley

Mears: How I’m Betting Game 3

Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how many things are connected on a basketball court. One example from Game 2 is the reason the Bucks ran away with it.

The Celtics really struggled to shoot the ball, posting an egregious 45.3% effective field goal mark (12th percentile). They especially struggled from the mid-range, and Irving wasn’t quite himself, going just 4-of-18 from the field. Jayson Tatum, another solid shooter, went 2-of-9.

Part of that was really playing up on Irving and putting more length on him in guys like Middleton:

The Bucks were also quicker with their help, and Irving wasn’t able to make them pay. They made sound adjustments from Game 1, and now it’s Boston’s turn to make adjustments coming back home.

Back to things being connected. The Bucks really thrive in transition, largely thanks to Antetokounmpo being a superhuman. In the regular season, they got out in transition at the fourth-highest rate and had the third-best efficiency on those plays.

In Game 2, they really torched the Celtics in that regard, adding a ridiculous 10.6 points/100 off transition opportunities (95th percentile).

Most of that damage, though, was due to pushing off live rebounds. Again, things are connected: When the Celtics miss shots, that allows Giannis and Co. to double the damage. It’s not surprising the game got out of hand, and it’s possible if the Celtics shoot poorly, it’ll also mean a really good offensive game for the Bucks at the same time.

The Celtics have to do better with these possessions:

And they likely should: the Celtics allowed transition opportunities at the lowest rate in the league in the regular season. They were also first in limiting transition opportunities specifically off defensive rebounds. If the Celtics shoot a little better — they should at home — and they are better at getting back, this game will look drastically different.

As such, I like the Celtics to cover in this one, and there’s a couple notable Bet Labs systems they’re matching for, too. The first: In the playoffs, when the favorite is getting more money than spread bets, those teams have been undervalued:

Further, while it’s not profitable to blindly employ the zig zag strategy, there are notable opportunities to buy. One is when home favorites are coming off a non-cover and loss…

I’ll be on the Celtics, and if you want to bet them, I’d advise betting them sooner rather than later, as it’ll likely continue to move in their favor. Bryan Mears

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.