There have been multiple moments in the Celtics-Bucks series where Milwaukee was on the precipice of disaster.
They entered at an immediate disadvantage without All-Star forward Khris Middleton, who suffered a knee injury in the first round against Chicago. After losing Game 2, the Bucks blew a 13-point fourth quarter lead and trailed by one point with under two minutes left in Game 3. In Game 4, Milwaukee allowed 43 points in the fourth quarter to lose a critical home game, 116-108. Even in Game 5, the Bucks trailed 93-79 with under 10 minutes left at TD Garden, but found a way to fight back and take a 3-2 lead heading into tonight.
Both teams are superb defensively, and evenly-matched on offense. Can Boston earn a win at Fiserv Forum and force a Game 7 on Sunday back at home? Will the Bucks championship pedigree be too much for the Celtics to overcome?
Here are my two picks for a fantastic Friday night NBA playoff matchup.
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Bucks vs. Celtics Betting Odds
*Lines accurate at the time of publication.
Bucks vs. Celtics Friday Night Picks
Bucks -1 (-110, FanDuel)
The Bucks have proved to be a resiliant group.
They have overcome the loss of Middleton, embraced Giannis Antetokounmpo’s dominance, and had timely contributions for key supporting cast players. Point guard Jrue Holiday made two critical late-game defensive plays in Game 5 to seal Milwaukee’s comeback victory. Holiday tallied 24 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and three combined steals and blocks, to serve as the perfect compliment to Antetokounmpo’s all-world performance.
The two-time MVP scored 40 points for the second time in three games, and produced his fourth double-double of the series. Boston has failed to stifle Antetokounmpo’s production, and seems resigned to allowing him to post huge numbers. That puts the Celtics at an immediate disadvantage, especially with the status of center Robert Williams still unknown due to knee soreness. The lack of Williams, an elite defender, allows Antetokounmpo free reign inside the paint, which will be even harder to defend in a closeout road game.
The Bucks have been one of the league’s worst cover teams at home, while the Celtics have been the NBA’s best ATS road team. Boston has actually covered both game in this series at Fiserv Forum. However, a closeout game on the road, with a limited (at best) Williams, is too much of a challenge. The line is small enough that it just becomes a straight-up winner bet.
The winner of Game 5 has won the series over 82% of the time. Milwaukee does not want to travel back to Boston for a Game 7, after their huge win on Wednesday night.
I’m backing the Bucks, with the best player on the floor, to end this incredible second-round series tonight.
Risk: 1.10 units on FanDuel to win 1 unit. (Bet up to -120)
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Giannis Antetokounmpo Over 53.5 Points + Rebounds + Assists (-110, DraftKings)
Boston has no answer to stop Antetokounmpo, and I certainly don’t think they will start tonight. He has reached 34 or more points in three straight games, while averaging 13 or more rebounds. Antetokoumpo rarely comes off the floor, posting 40 minutes per game during that time.
In 32 regular season home games this season, Antetokounmpo has averaged 31.1 points in just 33.5 minutes. We certainly remember his performance in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, desperately wanting to avoid a return to Phoenix for a do-or-die Game 7. He posted 50 points with 14 rebounds, playing 42 minutes.
I am usually on the under of such a large prop total, but we haven’t really seen the high efficiency game yet from Antetokoummpo. With everything at stake, tonight could be the night.
Risk: 1.10 units on DraftKings to win 1 unit. (Bet up to -120)
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