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Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks Game Preview and Prediction

The Eastern Conference foes will meet at the Fiserv Forum on Thursday when the Boston Celtics take on the Milwaukee Bucks, hoping to get the third straight win and fifth consecutive on the road, while the hosts are also looking for the third win in a row after securing two road victories. The rivals traded wins in the recent H2H meetings and the proof of it is the fact that the current season series is tied at one, while this will be the first duel in Milwaukee this year, and the Bucks were better in the latest tilt in late December. NBA: Thursday, February 14, 2019, Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 8:00 PM ET

 

Boston Celtics beat Detroit despite a strong final quarter display from the Pistons

Boston was in a fine form of five straight victories and even though they suffered a couple of losses to the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, the Celtics managed to respond with two wins over the Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons. The Celtics now improved to the 37-21 record and are currently in the 4th position in the Eastern Conference with six wins behind the conference leaders Milwaukee Bucks and also six behind their Atlantic Division rivals Toronto Raptors. Boston will almost certainly make it to the playoffs but whether they will be among the top four teams in the conference remains to be seen as the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers are also in the mix.

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics in a 118-110 win over the Pistons with 19 points, four assists, and a couple of steals; Gordon Hayward added 18 points, game-high eight dimes, and five boards, Al Horford posted a double-double of 17 points and team-high 14 rebounds, along with eight dishes, while Jaylen Brown chipped in with 17 points, seven boards, and a pair of thefts. Boston played very well in the opening three quarters and created a comfortable lead, big enough to afford a bit of relaxing in the final 12 minutes, but the win was never in question. The C’s were excellent from the floor and hit 51.1 percent of their shots and made even 16 triples on 39 attempts (41%), while the hosts moved the ball with such precision and success, recording 32 assists in opposite to Detroit’s 19.

Gordon Hayward sprained his right ankle in a workout on Tuesday and is now questionable for Thursday’s game against the Bucks; Aron Baynes (left foot contusion) will be back in action by late-February or early-March, while Terry Rozier is a game-time decision after missing the game with Detroit due to an illness.

The Celtics have the 12th offense in the NBA that averages 113.0 points per contest, while their defense is in top 5 in the league as it allows 106.6 points per game (5th). Boston’s rebounding is average as they are recording 45.1 boards per game (16th), while they are way better when it comes to assists per contest with 26.4 dishes a night (6th). Boston is 13th in field goal percentage as they have 46.5 percent from the floor and 5th from downtown with 37.2 percentage, while they are 2nd in the NBA with 13.1 three-pointers made per game.

Milwaukee Bucks are hoping to stay at the top of the Eastern Conference

Milwaukee’s six-game winning streak snapped with a surprising home loss to the Orlando Magic, but the Bucks bounced back with a pair of victories over the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers on the road. The Bucks improved to the 43-14 record and are still at the top of the Eastern Conference with a slightly better record (.754) than the Toronto Raptors (.729), and six wins more than their next opponents Boston Celtics. Milwaukee will definitely reach the playoffs and they are currently in the strongest position to top the Eastern Conference with the Raptors as their most serious rivals.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks in a 106-97 win over the Pacers with a triple-double of 33 points, game-high 19 rebounds, game-high 11 assists, and a couple of steals; Malcolm Brogdon had 17 points and five boards, Khris Middleton contributed with 15 points, six rebounds, and five dimes, while George Hill and Ersan Ilyasova combined for 23 points and nine boards off the bench. Milwaukee was excellent in the opening and final quarter as they won those periods by 20 points in total and they dominated the rebounds (52-43) and hit 21 free throws in opposite to Indiana’s 13.

Nikola Mirotic (right calf) missed the previous 11 games but there’s a decent chance he’ll be able to make his Milwaukee debut on Feb. 21 against the Celtics.

The Bucks have the top 5 offense in the NBA that averages 116.9 points per contest (2nd), while their defense is in top 10 in the league as it allows 107.1 points per game (8th). Milwaukee’s rebounding is the best in the league as they are recording 48.8 boards per game, while they are 7th when it comes to assists per contest with 26.2 dishes a night. Milwaukee is 2nd in field goal percentage as they have 48.0 percent from the floor and 18th from downtown with 34.9 percentage, while they are 3rd in the NBA with 13.1 three-pointers made per game.

Trends:

Boston:

  • 6-14 ATS in their last 20 games played on the road vs. an opponent with a winning home record
  • 5-12 ATS in their last 17 games played on the road vs. an opponent with a home winning percentage of greater than .600
  • 1-4 ATS in their last five games played on Thursday

Milwaukee:

  • 13-3-1 ATS in their last 17 games following an ATS win
  • 7-1 ATS in their last eight vs. NBA Atlantic rivals
  • 7-1 ATS in their last eight after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game
  • 4-1 ATS in their last five games played on Thursday

The Winner Prediction

Milwaukee won five out of the previous ten H2H encounters including the most recent one, while the Bucks were victorious in the past four meetings at the Fiserv Forum. The favorite is 5-0 ATS in the last five duels and the home team is 4-1 ATS in the previous five meetings, and considering Milwaukee’s home record this season (23-5) and Boston’s away record (14-13), I am backing the hosts in this one. The -5.5 spread might turn out to be a tricky one but at the moment, I believe the Bucks are better by at least six points and I am backing them to prove it on Thursday. Boston plays solid defense but I don’t think they will find the proper solution for Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Pick: Milwaukee Bucks -5.5 (-110)

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