Celtics vs. Bucks Betting Picks, Odds & Predictions: Key Injuries Making Boston Massive Underdog

Celtics vs. Bucks Betting Picks, Odds & Predictions: Key Injuries Making Boston Massive Underdog article feature image

Adam Glanzman/Getty Images. Pictured: Daniel Theis (27) and Jayson Tatum (0) of the Boston Celtics guard Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) of the Milwaukee Bucks.

  • The updated betting odds for Thursday night's Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks games makes Giannis Antetokounmpo and Co. massive double-digit favorites (spread: -10) with the over/under up to 226.5 points.
  • The spread and total have slowly been on the rise since opening due to some key injuries for the Celtics.
  • How are our experts betting the matchup? The detail their analysis and the picks they are making below.

Celtics at Bucks Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions

  • Spread: Bucks -10
  • Over/Under: 225.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: TNT

Odds as of Thursday afternoon and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.

Life is good right now for Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. But fresh off a home win over the New York Knicks in which Antetokounmpo scored 37 points in 21 minutes, the Bucks have a much tougher challenge on their hands: the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics have injury questions tonight, which is pushing this spread close to double digits, but they’re still one of the formidable teams in the East. Can they snag a second win over the Bucks on Thursday night?

Our NBA crew previews the matchup and how they are looking to bet this primetime game.

Betting Trend to Know

In the Brad Stevens era, the Celtics as underdogs have gone 127-107-3 (54%) against the spread (ATS). Boston has performed better as bigger dogs:

  • Underdog of 3 or more points: 106-82-2 (56%) ATS
  • Underdog of 6 or more points: 62-41 (60%) ATS
  • Underdog of 9 or more points: 26-12 (68%) ATS

Over the past two seasons, the Bucks are 81-54-4 (60%) ATS, +23.09 units — most profitable team in the league. But when the line has moved by one or more points in their direction, like tonight, the Bucks are only 18-22-2 ATS. John Ewing

Matt Moore: Brad Stevens SEGABABA Forever

(Deep breath)


Since joining the Celtics, Brad Stevens is 42-19 ATS as an underdog on the second night of a back-to-back. As I’ve written before, Stevens has said in previous interviews that he specifically targets these games as situations to convert schedule losses to wins. It’s part of his whole coaching ethos.

In his career, Stevens has had only one losing season on the second night of a back-to-back — last year during the Celtics’ cursed season with Kyrie Irving imploding the team. Last season was such an outlier in so many ways for a Stevens team that it’s worth throwing out. Meanwhile, they’ve gone 2-1 in that spot this year after going 3-1 two years ago.

Oh, and if you’re wondering how they do against elite teams in these spots, the Celtics are 8-6 ATS against teams with a win percentage above 60%, 5-2 vs. teams with a win percentage over 70%, and … wait for it … 17-6 ATS on the second night of a back-to-back under Stevens as an eight-point dog or more.

The Bucks are awesome, the Bucks are mighty, the Bucks also surrender 3s at a league-high rate. That’s their whole scheme: shut down the paint and make you take jumpers, preferably off the dribble.

Boston’s got a whole cadre of players who can make those shots. Milwaukee has six losses, and one of them was to Boston earlier this season. I like Celtics +10, but I would wait to see how high it gets with both the money and tickets coming in on the Bucks. — Matt Moore

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Bryan Mears: Health Looms Large Over Boston   

My colleague, Matt Moore, loves the Celtics SEGABABA trend. And it’s compelling: In Brad Stevens’ NBA career, he’s 42-19 as an underdog on the second night of a back-to-back. They’ve done especially well as large dogs in that spot.

That’s compelling and I think the Celtics do outperform their expectations pretty consistently in this spot (as the data clearly shows), but the injury stuff is very concerning. Jaylen Brown is uncertain to play with a thumb injury, and Jayson Tatum is TBD after missing last night’s game with a knee injury.

The Celtics lost last night to a bad Detroit team, showing the importance of Tatum. The Pistons won by 13, and the Celtics put up just 103 points.

On the year, Tatum has easily been the Celtics’ most valuable player, highlighted by his +9.5 on/off differential. Part of that value has been on offense, but the majority has actually been on defense, where he’s taken a pretty big leap this season.

Thinking about this game specifically, the Celtics have been much better from long range with Tatum and Brown, as well as from the mid-range. That’s important specifically against the Bucks, who have an extreme defensive scheme where they drop their bigs in pick-and-rolls wayyyy down, almost into the restricted area upon the initial screen.

That opens up a ton of space on the outside as well as in the mid-range, and they count 1) on their athletic wings to cover space and close out and 2) the bigs to just completely wall off the rim, which is where opponents take the most efficient shots. It’s obviously worked, as the Bucks have the league’s best defense so far this season (and were awesome last year as well).

Further, Tatum and Brown are the two guys who could potentially contain Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, two huge wings. So not only are they potentially losing the two guys most fit to attack the Bucks offensively, but they’re also losing the two best defenders against the reigning MVP and his All-Star running mate. Not great.

For those reasons, I think this line is right in the middle given the injury news. If Tatum and Brown play, I’ll absolutely jump on the Celtics to hang around here and cover the double-digit spread. But if they’re out, I think the Bucks will make a statement here at home and blow this game out.  — Bryan Mears

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Justin Phan: How I’m Betting This Game

It’s the second leg of a back-to-back on the road for the Celtics, and they’re coming off a game in which Brad Stevens left his starters in for a bit too long considering the deficit. There’s a chance they’ll be without Jaylen Brown, who suffered a sprained thumb and was in obvious pain after Wednesday’s loss while putting a wrap/glove on. Jayson Tatum (knee) is uncertain as well.

The PICK: Bucks -8.5 (it’s now up to -9/-10 depending on the book)

See more of Justin’s thoughts on the slate plus projections in the new Labs NBA Insiders tool.

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.

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