The Boston Celtics have quietly been a sneaky bet to emerge out of the Eastern Conference this season (+700 odds at BetOnline). They’ll get an instant opportunity to prove why on Friday, July 31st, when they battle the Milwaukee Bucks.
The NBA’s return comes the day before, but this may be one of the best NBA games to bet on. Early odds certainly indicate as much, and if you plan on wagering on this one, be sure to dive into my Celtics vs. Bucks prediction.
Tatum heads an extremely balanced Boston attack that has the second-best ATS record (38-23-3) in the NBA this year. Boston is also a staggering 14-4 against the spread as underdogs, so right away, sports bettors need to take them seriously here.
Bovada is probably the top site to bet on the Celtics vs. Bucks game, as they’re offering this 5-point spread, a +175 moneyline for Boston, and a palatable 216 total.
How should you bet on this game, though? Let’s take a closer look at the matchup to find out.
Celtics vs. Bucks Matchup Preview
On paper, it makes little sense to bet against the Bucks in any capacity. They were far and away the best team in the NBA before the league hiatus struck, and they’ll head to Orlando with a sick 53-12 record under their belt.
Their recent form wasn’t great thanks to Giannis Antetokounmpo missing time with injury, but he’s ready to rock now. Boston didn’t have much of an answer for him earlier this year, as The Greek Freak scored 32 points with 17 rebounds and seven assists in a 128-123 win in mid-January.
Boston did snag a 116-105 win back in October, however, relying on .415 shooting from long range to do so.
The 1-1 series split isn’t too alarming, but it does highlight Boston’s potential and the fact that they aren’t likely to back down in this matchup. Milwaukee does lose their amazing home court edge with all 22 teams relocating to Orlando (28-3 at Fiserv Forum), while Boston’s solid 20-12 road record doesn’t hurt their case in this spot.
From a matchup perspective, Boston is actually not a team Milwaukee wants to see much of.
The Celtics rank 7th in offensive and 4th in defensive efficiency, which makes them one of the more balanced teams in the league. They also play at a slower pace and are the third-best team in the league at defending the long ball, which makes them a difficult defensive matchup.
Boston is also a top-10 defense down low, as they don’t give up many easy buckets and also rank 6th in blocks.
On the flip side, of course, the Celtics can be prone to offensive ruts, as they don’t play fast and don’t really connect from outside at a torrid rate. If they’re unable to do the latter, this could become a very difficult matchup for them when you factor in Milwaukee’s top-ranked defense.
Milwaukee is also extremely deep and happens to have the reigning MVP and the third-best offense in the NBA. They’re understandably the better team, but by how much?
Prediction and Pick
The Bucks are just as motivated to show everyone what’s up after the long layoff, so I do think they get the win here. However, they’re really not worth betting on when you look at the quality of the opponent, the relocation factors, their moneyline, and the 5-point spread.
The Bucks are 34-26 ATS as favorites, but this is a different setting.
Milwaukee also doesn’t get another home game the rest of the year. That’s a problem for bettors. They need to look at the rest of the Bucks’ games like they’re a road team, and it’ll be interesting to see how that impacts them, among other teams.
For this first game, I’m not seeing the automatic dominance Milwaukee is accustomed to. They didn’t wipe the floor with Boston in their only win against them this year, while the Celtics have been very good against the spread.
The five points is enough to get me interested in Boston, and the +175 probably isn’t quite sweet enough to have me fully bet against the best team in the league. Boston should keep it close and beat the spread, but look for Milwaukee to get the win.
Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.
When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.