Bucks-Celtics Betting Guide: Historical Trends Favor Boston

Bucks-Celtics Betting Guide: Historical Trends Favor Boston article feature image

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving.

Betting odds: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics

  • Spread: Celtics -1
  • Over/Under: 223.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: ESPN

>> All odds as of 1 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets

The Boston Celtics are coming off an eight-point loss to the lowly Suns, and Al Horford and Aron Baynes will miss tonight’s game. As a result, the Celtics are just one-point favorites at home against the 21-9 Milwaukee Bucks. Where’s the value in tonight’s spread? Our analysts discuss.

Betting Trends to Know

Boston has lost two in a row. Under Brad Stevens, the Celtics have gone 57-45-1 (56%) ATS when on a losing streak, including 15-8 (65%) ATS the past three seasons.

Milwaukee (21-9) will enter Friday’s contest with a better record than Boston (18-12). Under Stevens, the Celtics have gone 60-38 ATS when facing an Eastern Conference opponent with a better winning percentage. — John Ewing

The Bucks enter this road showdown against the Celtics after shooting at least 50% from the field in their last two games — both wins against the Pelicans and Pistons.

Under Stevens, the Celtics are 18-10-1 ATS (64.3%) when facing a team that shot at least 50% from the field in consecutive games, covering the spread by 2.7 PPG. Since Stevens took over as Celtics head coach in 2013, he is the second-most profitable coach in the NBA in this spot just ahead of Mike Budenholzer. Last season the Celtics went 7-2 ATS in this spot, with their last two games coming against the Bucks in the playoffs. — Evan Abrams

Moore: What I’m Watching For Tonight

Al Horford’s absence is a big deal here. In the first matchup, Boston put Brook Lopez in pick-and-pop coverage consistently, forcing him to help down on Kyrie Irving and then try and recover on Horford.

Horford didn’t even shoot well, but he took 11 three-pointers in that game. That pressure mitigates what Lopez can do. Without him, Boston will really struggle to get Lopez in a lot of space to take advantage of him. If you can’t turn Lopez into a weakness, he hurts you from the outside with pick-and-pop, which is something young players — like Timelord himself, Robert Williams — struggle with as well.

Mike Budenholzer will keep a lot of his potential playoff plans in the bag, but don’t be surprised if they trot out a few strategies to disrupt Boston. Also bear in mind in that first game Marcus Morris chipped in 17 points. Morris had three straight performances of 20 or more before his injury, but in his first game back, I wonder if he might return to the player he’s been for the duration of his career, even in this contract season.

This is one of the better coaching matchups of the season. Of note, Budenholzer is 6-4 ATS as an underdog when facing Stevens. — Matt Moore

Locky: Why I’m Betting the Celtics

I think the Suns’ victory over Boston Wednesday night got everyone’s attention, and alarms have officially been sounded in Celtics Nation.

What’s the problem? Well, obviously the offense is tanking recently, but without Horford and Aron Baynes, and with Marcus Morris hurt, the Celtics’ offensive rebounding went in a drastic downward spiral, as two of their last three games were basically their worst of the season in that category, per Cleaning the Glass.

This was a team in the upper half of the league in offensive rebounding, so that’s a stark contrast. They also haven’t been getting to the line at all, but this year that’s been the team’s problem the whole season — nothing new there, just a continuation of a bad habit.

Still, with Horford out and the team having struggled, the Celtics are currently just one-point favorites. As a comparison, using season-long data I’d make the Celtics a couple points higher, and using preseason projections a couple points higher still (something like Celtics -6.5).

As for the Bucks, they’ve been extremely volatile in the last two weeks compared to their hot start. You really have a hard time figuring out as a handicapper what you’re getting from them from night-to-night.

This month alone they’ve lost to the Knicks and beaten the Raptors. It doesn’t get much more polarizing than that.

The compelling factor for me here is that Milwaukee is receiving a fair amount of credit despite being incredibly unpredictable. There is an assumption based off Boston’s recent play and injuries that Milwaukee should now be favored (when removing home-court advantage), and I have no idea if Milwaukee should be favored over a lot of teams given their recent up-and-down stretch.

The Celtics have already shown an ability to win with rotating pieces. Their second unit essentially dismantled the Pelicans earlier this month, and even in a meeting with these Bucks earlier this season, Semi Ojeleye started for Jaylen Brown and had a +9 rating in 22 minutes. This team frequently proves it’s more than the sum of its parts, and in a buy-low spot off a bad loss I think Boston at this low number has value. — Ken Barkley

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.