Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks Odds & Pick 12/25/21
Boston Celtics (16-16 SU, 17-14-1 ATS) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (21-13 SU, 15-19-0 ATS)
When: Saturday, Dec. 25th, 2021, 2:30 pm (ET)
Where: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
Point Spread: BOS +7/MIL -7 (Opened at -7 at Bovada)
Total: 221 (Opened at 221)
Money Line: BOS +140/MIL -160
Power Rating: MIL -8
Probable Starting LineupsBoston Celtics: PG Marcus Smart, SG Jaylen Brown, SG Romeo Langford, PF Jayson Tatum, C Robert Williams
Milwaukee Bucks: PG Jrue Holiday, SG Pat Connaughton, SF Khris Middleton, PF Giannis Antetokounmpo, C Demarcus Cousins
Boston Celtics: F Justin Jackson *Out* (Covid), G Marcus Smart *Questionable* (Hip), F C.J. Miles *Out* (Covid), F Aaron Nesmith *Out* (Covid), C Bruno Fernando *Out* (Covid), G Romeo Langford *Questionable* (Achilles), C Enes Freedom *Out* (Covid), F Josh Richardson *Out* (Covid), G Brodric Thomas *Questionable* (Covid), F Al Horford *Questionable* (Covid), F Grant Williams *Out* (Covid), F Sam Hauser *Out* (Covid), F Juancho Hernangomez *Questionable* (Covid), F Jabari Parker *Questionable* (Covid)
Milwaukee Bucks: G Donte DiVincenzo *Questionable* (Covid), C Brook Lopez *Out* (Back)
The Boston Celtics head into this Christmas Day matchup with an even 16-16 record and sit 8th in the Eastern Conference. Boston has had an up and down month of December, going 5-6, though they’ve won two of their last three games. Last time on the floor, the Celtics beat the Cavaliers, who were on a six-game winning streak. Part of the team’s recent success is due to their defense tightening up and allowing 103.6 PPG in their last three wins. The Celtics have been one of the latest teams ravished by Covid, now with twelve players on the health protocols list, including key big man Al Horford. Boston is led offensively by Jayson Tatum, who is averaging 25.6 PPG this season. As a team, the Celtics sit 14th in the league on offense, scoring 108.4 PPG. Defensively, they are 15th in the NBA, allowing 107.1 PPG.
The Milwaukee Bucks come into this game with a 21-13 record, making them the third-best team in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks have had an admirable December, going 8-5, and currently are riding a two-game win streak. Milwaukee has dealt with a number of injuries to key players this season and most recently had to keep the ship afloat without Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was out the last five games in Covid protocol. Without Giannis, Holiday and Middleton have stepped up to fill the void as the two led the team in scoring four of the last five games. Acquiring Demarcus Cousins has also proven to be a valuable move as he has found new life in his career, averaging 17.3 PPG in his last three games. The Bucks are led by Giannis as he is averaging 27.0 PPG this season. Offensively, Milwaukee is 8th best, averaging 110.3 PPG. Defensively, the team is 13th in the league, allowing 106.9 PPG.
Pace of Play
Any time you have two Eastern Conference teams go head-to-head, you can expect a defensive showdown. Boston is 12th in the NBA for pace, averaging 102.2 possessions a game. Boston has found success by slowing down opposing offenses, resulting in lower-scoring games. Even though Jayson Tatum is listed as a small forward, he acts largely as a point guard for the Celtics. In addition to Tatum, 35-year-old Al Horford has become an important part of the Boston offense, again adding to a slower pace. The Bucks come into this one as the 10th fastest team for pace and have been playing at a slower pace as well with the absence of Giannis. With Gianni’s clearing protocol and expecting to return to the lineup, I’m expecting a faster Bucks squad to dictate the pace of this game as a lot of Bucks possessions will end in the Greek Freak flashing his athleticism in the paint. Taking this into consideration as a bettor, I see his return sparking a lot of energy and points out of the Bucks, giving the over on the 221 total a good shot in this game.
A Tale of Two Halves
Looking at these teams, there is a trend worth noting between the halves. The Bucks have proven to be one of the more dominant first-half teams this season, averaging 56.1 points in the first two quarters. At home, they average 60.3 first-half points at home which is the second-best in the NBA. The Celtics struggled in the 1st half as the 6th worst team with 52.4 first-half points and 50.3 on the road. In the second half, the Bucks fall short of the Celtics with 53.7 second-half points compared to Boston’s 54.2. With such a close margin, the second half isn’t a concern to me for the Bucks at home. With Giannis’ return, I’m expecting a big first half out of the Bucks and find a way to carry it over to the second half, extending what lead they have and securing their 12th home win of the season.
Bucks Strong at Home
The Bucks are among some of the best teams at home this season with an 11-5 record. Just this month alone, they are 5-1 at home with their only loss to the Cavaliers. While the Bucks are better in most categories offensively at home vs. on the road, their defense has been stellar at Fiserv Forum. The Bucks allow a 42.3% field goal percentage at home, which is 2nd best in the NBA. Another area of the Bucks game that has been dominant this season is their rebounding. Overall, the Bucks are a top 5 rebounding team, but at home, they are best in the league, averaging 57.3 rebounds a game. Again, with the return of Giannis, they will rely heavily on his defensive presence as they expect him to pick up where he left off, averaging 11.6 rebounds per game.
Christmas Day will be the third time these teams face this season. Boston won the first two matchups, with the most recent game on the 13th of this month. Looking back at the last few seasons, the Celtics have won four of the last five matchups, including the last three.
How the Public is Betting the Celtics vs. Bucks
56% are betting the Bucks against the spread.
54% are wagering on the game to go under the posted total of 221.
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Betting Trends Worth Noting
- The Boston Celtics are 3-1-1 ATS in their last five games.
- The Boston Celtics are 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight games following an ATS win.
- In their last five home games, the Milwaukee Bucks are 4-1 ATS vs. teams with a losing road record.
- Over is 4-0 in the Bucks’ last four games as a home favorite.
- The Boston Celtics are 5-0 ATS in their last five games against Milwaukee.
- Over is 6-1 in the last seven games between these teams.
Collin’s Pick for Celtics/Bucks
The Bucks and Celtics rivalry is starting to become one of the most sought-after matchups in the NBA. The Bucks got an early Christmas present when they learned that the Greek Freak has cleared Covid protocols and is optimistic to play. While the Celtics have dominated the series as of late, the Bucks have played well lately and will get a much-needed spark from their all-star’s return. I’m taking the Milwaukee Bucks to cover the 7-point spread.
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