Bucks vs Celtics: Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks host Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics Tuesday, with tipoff from the Fiserv Forum set for 8 p.m. ET. Boston surprised many by taking Game 1 on the road in commanding fashion.
The Celtics went into Milwaukee and won by 22, despite being an eight-point underdog. Both teams will be without the service of one of their key players, as Boston will be missing Marcus Smart (oblique) and Milwaukee won’t have Malcolm Brogdon (foot). Milwaukee is listed as a 7.5-point home favorite, while the over-under for total points is 219.5 in the latest Celtics vs Bucks odds. Before you make any Celtics vs. Bucks picks or NBA Playoffs 2019 predictions, you’ll want to see what SportsLine’s advanced computer model has to say.
The model, which simulates every game 10,000 times, is crushing its NBA picks. It entered Week 28 of the 2018-19 NBA season with a sterling record on its top-rated picks, returning more than $3,100 in profit to anybody following them. And it has been particularly red-hot on its A-rated NBA money line picks, entering Week 28 on a strong 85-60 run. Anybody who has followed it is way up.
Now it has locked in on Celtics vs. Bucks. We can tell you it’s leaning under, and it also says one side of the spread hits in nearly 70 percent of simulations. You can only see that selection at SportsLine.
The model is well aware of how much better Milwaukee has been on its home court this season. The Bucks’ 33-8 record was just one win short of the NBA’s best home record, and they finished with a terrific 61 percent cover rate against-the-spread when playing in the Fiserv Forum. Meanwhile, the Celtics had just a 48.8 percent cover rate when playing on the road. In fact, Boston struggled against-the-spread in general this season, carrying a 50 percent cover rate that is down significantly from Milwaukee’s NBA-best 62.2 percent cover rate.
Normally elite teams go a bit overvalued by Vegas, as evidenced by sub-50 percent cover rates for each of the Warriors, Raptors, 76ers, Celtics and Thunder. That was not the case for Milwaukee, a team that was actually undervalued all year.
But just because Milwaukee has been excellent on its home floor doesn’t mean it will win or cover the Celtics vs. Bucks spread Tuesday night in the NBA Playoffs 2019.
The model also knows that this Boston team has found a new level in the postseason. Brad Stevens has shown a consistent ability to have his teams more well-prepared than their opponents in the playoffs, so the fact that Milwaukee was much better during the regular season might not matter much. Even without the help of Irving and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics were able to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, on the back of a sterling 9-3 against-the-spread record in the first two rounds. They swept a well-respected Pacers squad in Round 1 of this year’s playoffs, which included a perfect 4-0 mark against-the-spread.
Plus, we saw Stevens and this Celtics squad dismantle the Bucks in the first round last year, and their defensive schemes similarly frustrated Antetokounmpo in Game 1 of this year’s series.
In the wake of a calamitous Game 1 against the Boston Celtics, the Milwaukee Bucks didn’t look at themselves in the mirror. What you see in a mirror doesn’t always give you a full picture, especially of things that happened outside of that moment.
Instead, they sought truth in looking over the game film of Sunday’s debacle.
“Film don’t lie,” point guard Eric Bledsoe said. “People can say what they want; once it gets on film they can see what really happened.”
What the Bucks saw was a version of themselves that looked nothing like the prior 86 games.
Celtics forward Daniel Theis dunks as Bucks forwards Giannis Antetokounmpo and Ersan Ilyasova watch Sunday.
Celtics forward Daniel Theis dunks as Bucks forwards Giannis Antetokounmpo and Ersan Ilyasova watch Sunday. (Photo: Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
They were sluggish with a lack of urgency, damning traits for a playoff game. The ball got stuck on offense, and the defense surrendered open look after open look. MVP front-runner Giannis Antetokounmpo looked powerless against Boston’s size and traps while his supporting cast was anything but supportive, with players missing open shots – or worse – being hesitant of taking them.
“I think as a team we didn’t compete as hard as we could compete” Antetokounmpo said, “and we have to be better going into Game 2.”
Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Fiserv Forum will be the most critical game played in Milwaukee in nearly two decades. If the Bucks can’t rebound from a 22-point loss, they could find themselves watching as a magical regular season gets flushed down the drain.
Things have to change if the Bucks are going to even the series before it shifts to Boston. There’s no question about that. Everyone at the Bucks’ downtown practice facility Monday would agree with that point.
However, the Bucks are not inclined to believe major changes need to be made. The consensus from their point of view is they’ve been successful all season and can continue to ride those habits and schemes to future success. They contend the issue on Sunday was they got away from who they are, not that their scheme and management are flawed.
“I think when we’re us that’s when we’re at our best,” said coach Mike Budenholzer, who noted the Bucks failed to meet their standards in Game 1. “I think sometimes adjustments and all those things are actually somewhat overrated.”
Antetokounmpo was even more forceful with his words. When asked about the need for noteworthy changes – adjustments to the rotation, playing time, etc. – Antetokounmpo shook his head and repeatedly dismissed the notion out of hand.