Milwaukee Bucks (9-10 SU, 10-9 ATS) vs. Boston Celtics (16-4 SU, 10-10 ATS), 7:30 p.m. EST, Tuesday, December 8, 2009, TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Bucks +12.5/Celtics -12.5
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These two teams couldn’t be more different. The Bucks have lost three games in a row, while the Celtics have won seven in a row. The Celtics are a true team with Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and others able to take over a game on any given night. The Bucks right now are all about rookie point guard Brandon Jennings, who is averaging 21.3 points and 5.8 assists per game. The Celtics have the most NBA championships in NBA history and won another one in 2008, while the Bucks have not had much success lately.
The Bucks are 4-0 this season when Jennings scores at least 26 points. The rookie has been a pleasant surprise for this Bucks franchise, carrying the team at a time when the Bucks were thought to be rebuilding and Michael Redd has missed most of the season with an injury. Jennings immediately made an impact and scored 55 points in a win over the Warriors in just his seventh game in the NBA. He has scored in double digits in all but one game (nine points vs. the T-Wolves). And has had at least seven assists in 10 of the Bucks’ 19 games. Andrew Bogut, Hakim Warrick, Luke Ridnour, Ersan Ilyasova, Carlos Delfino and Charlie Bell have all been solid contributors for the Bucks, but no team relies more heavily on one player right now than Jennings in Milwaukee.
The Bucks started the season great and were in first place a couple weeks ago, but now they’re coming back down to earth. They’ve lost three straight games to the Cavs, Pistons and Wizards and have lost seven of their last eight. The way they’ve been playing lately and the way the Celtics have been playing, it’s unlikely the Bucks will win a road game in Boston but if they did it would go a long way for their confidence.
The Celtics have had some rocky moments this season and still probably aren’t playing up to their lofty expectations, but they do have an eight-game lead in the Atlantic Division and it’s only 20 games into the season, so the Celtics are in great shape right now. They’ve won seven games in a row, the last five of which have all come by at least seven points after a couple close wins over the Knicks and 76ers to start the winning streak. Coming off a pair of 18-point wins over the Bobcats and Thunder and a seven-point win over the Spurs, it’s safe to say the Celtics are now playing their best basketball of the season thus far.
Rondo is one of the better defensive point guards in the league because of his length and his ability to steal the ball. He leads the league with 2.6 steals per game. He and Rondo have similar body types, so it will be an interesting matchup to watch. Jennings isn’t a great defensive player, so Rondo could exploit that and have a very good offensive game. When Rondo racks up the assists and chips in some points, rebounds and steals, the Celtics are tough to beat. The Bucks will have trouble defending Garnett, Perkins and Wallace down low and keeping up with Garnett and Wallace on the perimeter. The Bucks want to get out and run to be successful because that’s what Jennings excels most at, but the Celtics are one of the best defensive teams in the league and like to slow the game down and execute in the half-court.
The Celtics are 5-0 ATS in their last five games. The Celtics are first in the league in field goal percentage (49.6) and second in the league in points per game against (90.6). The Celtics won two of the three matchups last season with the Bucks and neither team won by more than 12 points in any of the three games.
Ryno’s Pick: Although the Celtics lost once to the Bucks last season and failed to beat them by more than 12 points in either of their two wins last season, both teams are different this year, especially the Bucks. The key for the Bucks is Jennings, but the Celtics are such a good defensive team that they will be able to disrupt Jennings. The Bucks don’t match up well and the Celtics will continue their winning ways with an easy win at home. Take the Celtics -12.5.