Many wondered how the No. 2 seed Boston Celtics would perform in their first-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks. After all, they lost point guard Kyrie Irving for the remainder of the postseason to a knee bacterial infection.
Everything seems to be going well for the undermanned Celtics right now. They won Game 5 by a score of 92-87, giving them a 3-2 lead as they head to Milwaukee.
As for the Bucks, they’re now facing elimination despite having a relatively healthy squad. And star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo noticeably struggled in the last contest.
The good news for Milwaukee, though, is that Boston hasn’t won a road game yet. Therefore, the Bucks have the perfect chance to win and force a deciding Game 7 contest.
I’ll discuss the odds of Milwaukie winning Game 6. You can also see the betting odds for this game below. And keep in mind that you can wager on Milwaukee vs. Boston at GTBets.
Bucks Celtics Odds – Game 6 of First-Round Playoff Series (April 26 at 8:05pm)
- Boston Celtics +5 (-109) / +170 moneyline
- Milwaukee Bucks -5 (-105)/ -211 moneyline
- Over 199.5 (-113)
- Under 199.5 (-105)
Why Boston Celtics will Cover +5
Boston is far from the team that started the season with All-Stars Irving and Gordon Hayward. It only took 5 minutes into the season opener for Hayward to break his ankle and be sidelined for the season. Irving noticeably struggled with his knee down the stretch and was finally ruled out by doctors.
The good news for Brad Stevens’ squad is that the remaining talent is still capable of winning a playoff game. Al Horford, Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier, Jalen Brown, and Jayson Tatum are all solid players who’ve stepped up.
But no player may be more key to Boston’s cause than Marcus Smart. Having been out for six weeks with a thumb injury, Smart finally made it back onto the floor for Game 5. The difference was noticeable, especially on the defensive side.
Boston plays better overall defense when they have Smart hustling and diving for loose balls. He plays a great all-around game, as evidenced by the fact that the 6’4″ guard blocked three shots.
But Smart wasn’t the only hero in this game. Stevens went with a small lineup that involved inserting Semi Ojeleye in place of Aaron Baynes. The moved worked out well, with Ojeleye playing good defense on Antetokounmpko.
The Celtics also have some good history on their side. 29 NBA teams have won at least one playoff series since 2002. The only team that hasn’t is the Milwaukee Bucks. Therefore, this team must overcome a mental block to advance past the first round for the first time in 17 years.
More good news for Boston is that they’ve shot 130 free throws in this series. Milwaukee, meanwhile, has only attempted 100. This makes sense when considering that they’ve out-fouled the Celtics 124-94. If Boston can keep getting these extra opportunities to score and keep the Bucks in foul trouble, then they have a strong change to win and advance.
Why Milwaukee Bucks Will Cover +6.5
Giannis Antetokounmpo certainly hasn’t been a letdown this series, averaging 25.4 PPG on 60.5% shooting. But he didn’t play up to his standards in the Game 5 loss. He took only 10 shots (third lowest of entire season) and wasn’t as aggressive as usual.
Antetokounmpo still finished with a near triple-double (one assist short) and helped keep the contest close. But he was his harshest critic after the loss.
“Game 6, I’ve got to come out and be more aggressive,” he said. “It’s on me. I had open shots, but they weren’t my shots so I didn’t feel comfortable taking them. … I’ve got to be more aggressive, make more plays because definitely, my teammates need me.”
Stevens was pleased with their defensive effort against Antetokounmpo, which took an entire team and a healthy Smart to accomplish.
“Giannis is a heck of a player,” said Stevens. “You’re not going to be perfect against him. You’re not going to hold him down by any means. He makes plays for other people, he’s very unselfish … but we just felt like we needed a little bit more ball pressure overall, and so that was the decision to go smaller.”
Chances are that Antetokuompo won’t sit back and let his teammates take all the opportunities this time around. Expect him to be much more aggressive in driving to the basket and looking for shots.
He and the Bucks have performed well in elimination games in recent years. They went down 3-0 to the Chicago Bulls in 2015, but stormed back to win the next two games and make it a series (they lost in six games). Milwaukee also took Toronto to the brink in Game 6 of last season’s first-round series, before finally letting their lead slip in the waning minutes.
Another thing that the Bucks can hang their hats on is the fact that they’ve outscored Boston 520-519 so far. The games haven’t really been all that close, with each team leading by at least 16 in the last four contests. But the overall point total shows that the Bucks are capable of winning Game 6 for sure.
Final Thoughts on Boston and Milwaukee Odds
Boston played a great defensive game against Milwaukee at TD Garden. But I have trouble seeing them replicate this on the road, especially since they have yet to win at the Harris Bradley Center. I feel that their outstanding defensive performance last timeout was due to the emotional lift from Smart’s return.
Milwaukee was thoroughly figured out in Game 5. But now they have time to plan and prepare to deal with what Boston threw at them. I don’t see Milwaukee winning by a big margin, though. Instead, they’ll eek out a close victory and extend the series.
Final Score Prediction: Milwaukee wins 97-94 – Boston covers +5 spread