Celtics vs. Bucks NBA Odds & Pick: Milwaukee Should Cover Regardless of Giannis (Wednesday, March 24)
Corey Perrine/Getty Images. Pictured: Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.
- Life doesn't get any easier for the Celtics -- losers of four of five -- as they travel to Milwaukee on Wednesday.
- The Bucks may be without Giannis, but that didn't seem to bug them on Monday when they scored 140 points against Indiana.
- Kenny Ducey explains why he likes Milwaukee to cover regardless of Giannis' status.
Celtics vs. Bucks Odds
|Moneyline||+188 / -230|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Wednesday morning via DraftKings.|
The Boston Celtics are reeling, continuing their descent down the Eastern Conference standings after suffering their fourth loss in five games. Life won’t get any easier Wednesday when they square off against the Milwaukee Bucks.
To their credit, the Bucks have become the new Jazz. They look unstoppable at the moment, racking up 12 wins in their last 13 contests, and even withstood injuries to Giannis Antetokounmpo and P.J. Tucker in their most recent game to still give a shellacking to the Indiana Pacers.
Is this yet another prime fade spot on the Boston or could injuries get the better of Milwaukee here? Let’s take a look at the numbers to find out.
It’d be hard to imagine things going any worse for the Celtics. They’ve lost four of five and all their opponents of late, save for Utah, were of low quality. So, do they have any sort of a chance against Milwaukee?
In short, yes. Kemba Walker is returning to the lineup after resting Monday and Jayson Tatum is back after missing that game due to an illness. Aside from Tristan Thompson entering the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, Boston will be fully staffed.
Also working in Boston’s favor is its interior defense. The Celtics have allowed just 54.8% shooting from less than 10 feet over the past five games, which is third in the NBA, though opponents have shot 38.8% from distance. That’s the main reason why the Celtics have ranked 25th over their losing stretch with a 117.1 defensive rating.
Overall, things look pretty bleak. A team once loved by bettors is now revered, dipping below .500 with Monday’s loss and failing to cover for the sixth time in eight games. Speaking of which, the Celtics are now 19-24 overall against the spread and 7-16 ATS on the road. Yuck.
It’ll be important to monitor the Bucks injury report ahead of this one with the status of Antetokounmpo up in the air.
Milwaukee was a 10.5-point favorite against Indiana on Monday before news of Antetokounmpo’s likely absence sent the line plummeting to around -5 on the number. The line wound up closing at seven points, but only because Malcolm Brogdon was later ruled out for the Pacers.
Antetokounmpo is listed as questionable for this game with the same left knee sprain that kept him from playing against Indiana. And considering the Bucks’ incredible performance in his absence, there’s certainly a chance they could decide to rest him again against the woeful Celtics.
In terms of other injuries, Tucker was also knocked out of that game with an ankle injury, but is listed as probable.
Milwaukee’s recent run has been somewhat confusing. The team has won that aforementioned 12 of 13 games, but has covered in just four of its last 10 contests. That said, home is where the Bucks have done their best work, going 13-9 ATS for a cover rate of 59.1 percent.
One thing that the Bucks may want to pick up against a struggling perimeter defense is the three-pointers. They rank just 14th in the league with 35.1 threes attempted per 100 possessions over the past 10 games, and won’t find an easy time driving in on a strong frontcourt.
The Bucks are in a very favorable spot here at home, where they have been dominant over the past few years, facing a bad road team.
I suspect the uncertainty surrounding Antetokounmpo is baked into this line, and confirmation of his presence in the starting lineup could send the line flying out to maybe eight points.
I don’t think the Bucks are a bad call here either way. They should be more than capable of covering the six points with the way this offense played on Monday, when it posted an efficiency rating of 132.1 in that game.
Milwaukee’s been 8.7 points worse per 100 possessions on the offensive side of things when Giannis has been off the floor, according to NBA.com, but judging by the mood the Bucks’ scorers were in on Monday against a defense that had been playing very well, I like them to repeat that performance against a struggling group of defenders.
Defense has never been the issue for the Bucks, who have still managed a 109.8 defensive rating with Giannis off the floor this season. I see an edge on both sides of the ball, and think the Bucks have the shooting to take advantage of the mismatch on the perimeter.
I’d bet Milwaukee to -8 in this spot.
Pick: Bucks -6 (-110)