Update: Horford has been ruled out, but it looks like the Celtics are rolling with the rest of their guys tonight. The line is now Bucks -2.5 and the total is 244.5. I still like Milwaukee to win and cover against a slightly fatigued Celtics group, but I do think the total will now go over this line with all of Boston’s top players in.
The top teams in the Eastern Conference will face off for the second time this season when the Boston Celtics (29-8) visit the Milwaukee Bucks (25-12) Thursday evening. These are the two squads expected to contend for the conference title, and have been forming a nice rivalry over the last few seasons. The Celtics won the first meeting 119-116 and are coming off an overtime win Wednesday against the Timberwolves. The Bucks are hoping to snap a two-game losing streak.
We’ll see how Boston manages Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Jrue Holiday after they played heavy minutes Wednesday. Kristaps Porzingis should be in after missing Wednesday’s game, while Al Horford likely rests as he usually does on back-to-backs. Damian Lillard is in for Milwaukee after dealing with a personal issue, while Cam Payne is probable as he looks to come out of the league’s concussion protocol. Jae Crowder remains sidelined for Milwaukee.
The Bucks are 4.5-point favorites according to DraftKings Sportsbook, with the total coming in at 243. Milwaukee is -180 on the moneyline while Boston is +150.
Celtics vs. Bucks, 7:30 p.m. ET
Pick ATS: Bucks -4.5
This line has some injury uncertainty built into it. Usually, you’d expect Boston to play its best guys but Wednesday’s game going to overtime might change the calculus. Even the Bucks are at home and are the more rested team, that doesn’t necessary translate to a strong performance. Milwaukee is 7-11-1 ATS at home this season, and 2-7 ATS when coming into a game with a rest advantage. On the flip side, Boston is 4-2 coming into a game with no rest.
Those trends aside, the Bucks played the Celtics close when both teams were at full strength. It’s tough to believe Boston will play all its top guys here, with one of Tatum and Brown likely to sit along with Holiday. Since this is a nationally televised game, one of those two star forwards will likely play given the new rules.
I like the Bucks to make a statement in this game at home, winning and covering the spread against a Celtics team that might not have enough juice after a big overtime win Wednesday.
Over/Under: Under 243
The first meeting between these teams went under this number, and we’re expecting to see some players rest for the Celtics. Both Boston and Milwaukee are over-friendly teams this season, with the Celtics going 21-16 to the over while the Bucks are 23-14 to the over. However, the Celtics are just 3-3 on overs in their last six while the Bucks are 2-4 to overs in the same span. With some key players likely sitting, I’ll take the under in this matchup.