The Boston Celtics look to move to the second round of the postseason with a win on Thursday over the Bucks.
As Khris Middleton said in his postgame interview after the Bucks’ 87-92 loss to the Boston Celtics, “It’s win or go home.” In this series, the home team has won every game thus far. That is a silver lining right now for the Milwaukee Bucks, who return home Wednesday night down 3 games to 2. The Bucks hope to get big games from Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo to try to force it to a game 7. B
efore they can think about 7, though, they have to win game 6, where the Boston Celtics will be traveling to the Bradley Center to take on the Bucks. Tip off is scheduled for 8:00 pm ET. While there are other series still going on, the Celtics-Bucks game is actually the only NBA game on the docket for Thursday night.
The spread comes in at the Boston Celtics +4.5 and the Milwaukee Bucks -4.5. The over/under for total points scored is set at 199.5.
In game 5, Boston Celtics’ coach, Brad Stevens, made a starting lineup change that encouraged a little more small-ball to match the Bucks’ up-tempo offense. In the game, Al Horford moved to the center spot and they started Semi Ojeleye at the power forward. This is actually something that Stevens had teased in the fourth quarter of game 4, when Boston went on a run and almost won that game. Needless to say, it worked. Horford ended up having a team high 22 points and also added 14 rebounds. Jaylen Brown had 14 points and 6 rebounds and Terry Rozier added 16 points and 5 assists in the win.
Another huge boost for the Celtics was the return of Marcus Smart. While Smart didn’t necessarily fill up the stat sheet (9 points and 5 rebounds in 24 minutes of play), he did get the attention of the Bucks with his gritty, hard-nosed defense for the Celtics’ second line. If the Celtics can get another solid game from the guys around Jaylen Brown, they could be in for a trip to the second round.
It is pretty hard to say that someone who almost had a triple-double had a bad game, but for what the Bucks need, that is probably what you would have to say about Giannis Antetokounmpo’s game 5 performance. While he had 16 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assist, the Bucks need him to be the leading scorer for them to have a chance of pushing this to a game 7. Especially alarming was that he only took 10 shots in the whole game.
Aside from Antetokounmpo, some other players had decent games for the Bucks in game 5. Khris Middleton (23 points), Eric Bledsoe (16 points, 5 rebounds), and Jabari Parker (17 points, 8 rebounds) all played well, but again, the Bucks will go as far as Giannis Antetokounmpo takes them and Thursday night, they are hoping that is to a game 7.
If you break it down by quarters, the Boston Celtics have outscored the Bucks in 5 of the last 6 quarters in the playoffs. That is in large part to the roster shakeup and rotations that Brad Stevens has employed. At this point, the Bucks have not really shown that they have an answer for it. While their home crowd will likely energize them, I think that Boston is really in a good spot to move onto the second round with a game 6 win. Especially getting +4.5 points (Boston is 5-1 against the spread in their last 6 games), take the Celtics.
If betting the over/under, take the over. For Boston, the game has gone over in 8 of Boston’s last 9 games, and with the low total of 199.5, I think that stat is likely to go to 9 of the last 10. In the regular season, both teams averaged over 100 points (Boston 104 and Milwaukee 106.3). Take the over.