After a week-long break from NBA regular season action we're back in full swing Thursday night with the Boston Celtics travelling to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks who own the best record in the league. We break down the best bets for this matchup between two of the heavyweights in the Eastern Conference.
The Celtics are the best first-quarter team in the league this season with average scoring margin of +3.0 in the opening frame.
That number has jumped out to an incredible average of +9.0 over their last three games, as they had a five point lead over the 76ers and a staggering 23-point lead versus the Clippers after the first 12 minutes (which they somehow ended up squandering in an 11-point loss).
We expect the Celtics to cover the 1Q spread before falling behind later in the game.
Prediction: First quarter spread - Boston Celtics +2 (-109)
First Half bet
The Celtics average 55.4 points in the opening half this season and that number has jumped up to 61 ppg over their last three contests. While the Bucks have one of the better first-half defenses in the league allowing 53 ppg, that number increases to 54.9 when at home, and with both teams well rested for this game expect them to come out energized.
Back the Celtics to go Over their first half team total.
Prediction: First half Boston points - Over 54 (-116)
The Bucks use their length to great effect and defend well against almost every position. The one exception? Center, where they allow 25.3 points (fifth-worst in the NBA) and 1.7 made three-point shots (dead-last in the league) per game to the position.
This is good news for Boston center Al Horford, who scored 18 points against Milwaukee in his lone game against them this season. If that's too small a sample size for you, he also averaged 18.8 ppg and hit 1.5 three-pointers per game in four contests versus Milwaukee last year. Back the Over on Horford's points total today.
Prediction: Al Horford total points - Over 13.5 (-105)
Full Game Total
Milwaukee is the second-highest scoring team in the league, averaging 116.9 ppg, and that number goes up to a league-leading 119.6 ppg at home. They also play at a fast pace with the sixth-most possesions per game in the league, including the second-highest number at home.
Don't be thrown off by the Bucks recent streak of Unders, three of their last four games have been against teams which play at slow paces and rank among the best Under plays in the league (Indiana, Orlando and Dallas). The Celtics, on the other hand, have been one of the most reliable Over bets all season, going 34-24 O/U. Take the Over here.
Prediction: Over 229 (-110)
Full Game Side
While 5.5 points is a decent spread to cover against a tough Celtics squad, Boston is just 5-12 ATS in their previous 17 games against teams with a home winning percentage of more than .600. And they will have a difficult matchup against a Bucks team that is 19-7-1 ATS in its last 27 games.
In the head-to-head the favorite is 5-0 ATS over the last five games between these two sides, while the home team is 4-1 ATS. Expect those trends to continue and back the Bucks to win and cover tonight.
Prediction: Milwaukee -5.5 (-110)