Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks Game Preview – March 24, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NBA
| March 24, 2021 6:23 am PDT

The Celtics are not having the season they would have hoped for and currently sit outside the automatic playoff spots. With that said, there isn’t much between them and the fourth-placed Hawks, so a few back-to-back wins could see them move up the standings rapidly. The only way is up for the Bucks as there is a clear gap between them and Atlanta, and they will be hoping that they continue their good form and chase down the Nets and the 76ers.

Things have been relatively tight between these two, and they have split the last four matches against each other. However, it would appear that home-court advantage is clear in this fixture as their previous five encounters have been won by the home team on the night. That is confirmed by the fact that the Bucks have won nine of the last ten games against the Celtics played in Milwaukee, including the last four in a row.

Let’s look at the betting trends for each team, and then I will provide my Celtics vs. Bucks betting prediction.

Celtics vs. Bucks Match Odds 

Celtics +3.5-110
Bucks -3.5-110
Celtics To Win+145
Bucks To Win-154
Over 229.5 Points-110
Under 229.5 Points-110

Although these teams are closely matched on paper, you would have to say that the spread appears to be correct given the Bucks’ recent form and their superior record at home. The points total has been cut by a point since the betting open, but it still looks a shade high to me.

The last time they met back in December, the Celtics were given a similar lead, and they ended up winning that game outright.

Celtic’s Preview

The Celtics are not enjoying the basketball right now, and they only have two wins to their name from their previous seven matches. Those two wins came against the Rockets and the Magic, arguably two of the NBA’s worst teams this season. Almost all of their defeats during this period have come by way of wide margins. Even their overtime loss against the Grizzlies last time out ended up being a relatively comfortable defeat.

Boston has been terrible away from home this season, and their record of 8-15 is amongst the worst in the Eastern Conference. They have only managed one win from their previous ten matches on the road, which was against the struggling Rockets.

Here are the latest betting trends for Celtics:

  • They have only won one of their previous five games against the spread.
  • Boston has lost nine of their last ten matches on the road against the spread.
  • Six of their last nine games against teams in the Eastern Conference have gone over the betting total.
  • The total has gone over in 11 of their last 15 games against opponents based in the Central Division.

This confirms the Celtics’ torrid form and points towards a high-scoring defeat for them.

Boston’s offense has been sub-standard this season, despite shooting relatively well, especially from three-point range.

Their defense has been marginally better but would still be classed as reasonably average. They have far too often lost their discipline, which has resulted in them losing their shape and committing a high number of personal fouls. I believe this is down to arrogance as the Celtics think they’re better than they are, and to a certain degree, they are right. On paper, they have one of the best line-ups in the league, but that won’t win them basketball games. They need to work much harder and become more consistent across the board.

There seems to be a fundamental divide in the locker room, and perhaps having so many stars mean too many egos. The players have played this down, but I think it’s clear to see that they aren’t all singing from the same hymn book.

The Celtics will miss Langford, who is out with a wrist injury, while there are doubts over Thompson and Tatum.

Bucks Preview

The Bucks are probably the best team in the NBA at present, having only lost one of their previous 13 matches. They are currently enjoying their longest win streak of the season, which stands at seven, and given the Celtics’ poor form as of late, they will be hopeful of making it eight tonight.

Their home form has been superb and must be nightmare reading for the travel-sick Celtics. Milwaukee has won 17 of their 22 home fixtures this season, including dropping one of their last nine games.

Here are the latest betting trends for Milwaukee:

  • Five of their previous six matches have gone over the betting total.
  • The total has gone over in 13 of their last 20 games against the Celtics.
  • Only one of their previous five matches against teams from the east coast has failed to go over the points total.
  • Milwaukee is 2-8 against the spread in their last ten games against opponents based in the Atlantic Division.
  • They have only won four of their previous 15 games in March against the spread.

Their form against the spread doesn’t concern me as I think it’s clear that the bookmakers have been setting them, so large handicaps to chase down. Much like the Celtics stats, the above data points to a high-scoring game.

The Bucks have the second-best offense in the league this season, so it is no wonder they have seen so many matches go over the points total. They are one of the best shooting teams in the NBA this season from anywhere on the court. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been one of the most significant contributing factors to this, and over his previous six games, he has a field goal percentage of 59% and 44% from the three-point range. However, he missed their last game against the Pacers with a knee injury and remains a doubt for tonight’s game.

But Jrue Holiday stepped up the plate in his absence and put on a masterclass against Indiana. If he can serve up much the same tonight, then the Bucks fans can be a little less worried about missing this season’s star player.

What’s worse for the Celtics is the Bucks’ offense moves up to the number one position when you focus on home games alone.

Their defense isn’t the best and has been their biggest downfall this season. They like to sit deep and cover the basket, leaving them open against teams that shoot well from range. This could be Boston’s key to victory tonight. However, this does mean that they can make many defensive rebounds. Again Antetokounmpo has led the way with rebounds, and he sits fourth in the league rankings this season.

Unlike their opponents tonight, the Bucks are disciplined, and the Celtics could undoubtedly learn a lot from Milwaukee. They conduct themselves well on the court and always stayed focused.

It’s not been confirmed whether or not Antetokounmpo will play or not tonight, and Kurucs also faces a late fitness test. However, Milwaukee is hopeful that Tucker will return following an ankle injury.

Celtics vs. Bucks Betting Pick

Pick
  • Bucks To Win
    -154

If Antetokounmpo were confirmed as playing, then I would snap up the Bucks minus the handicap. However, if he was confirmed as playing, the spread could be a couple of points bigger. With that said, they didn’t appear to lose any momentum last time out against a decent Pacers team, and they put them to the sword winning by 27 points. I can’t shy away from the fact that you have a team playing their best basketball of the season against a team playing their worst basketball of the season. Added to that, the Bucks’ dominance of this fixture in Milwaukee, I have to take them to win.

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