Bucks Are The NBA Pick As Underdogs Visiting Celtics

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, February 25, 2016 6:28 PM GMT

The Boston Celtics have leveled off a bit after a very hot stretch, and they may now have their hands full Thursday with the Milwaukee Bucks, who are heating up at the right time.

 

The road underdogs starting to heat up could hold very nice value Thursday night when those Milwaukee Bucks (24-33, 28-28-1 ATS), who have won four of their last five games, pay a visit to the Boston Celtics (33-25, 32-25-1 ATS) at TD Garden in Boston, MA at 7:35 ET in a game available on Comcast SportsNet - New England.

The point spread at Bovada has Milwaukee as a decided road underdog for this contest with the current line at +8 on the NBA odds board at odds of -110.

 

Clinging to Three-Seed in East
The Celtics had been putting pressure on the Toronto Raptors for the Atlantic Division lead and for the second seed in the Eastern Conference after being one of the hottest teams in the NBA for a while, but Boston has leveled off losing three of its last five games most recently losing to the lowly Timberwolves 124-122 in Minnesota on Monday.

The Celts are still the three-seeds in the East but they now trail Toronto by six full games and they cling to just a one-half game lead over the fourth seeded Miami Heat.

It appeared extremely doubtful that the Bucks would be returning to the NBA Playoffs this season after their surprising entrant as a six-seed in their first season under Coach Jason Kidd last year, but Milwaukee is coming on after a terrible start, and its current 5½-game deficit behind the eighth and final playoff spot may not be insurmountable. At least not if the Bucks continue their current fine play that sees them as the winning NBA picks in four of their last five games.

 

Hot Stretch Began vs. Celtics
This hot streak for the Bucks began with a 112-111 win over these Celtics home in Milwaukee on February 9th as four-point home underdogs, as the only loss for Milwaukee since then was by only three points to the eighth seeded Charlotte Bobcats.

And it is probably not a coincidence that this hot streak began with the insertion of the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo into the starting lineup and the move of both center Greg Monroe and point guard Michael Carter-Williams to the bench. Those moves raised some eyebrows with Monroe being the Bucks’ big free agent signing this past off-season and Carter-Williams being a former Rookie of the Year just two seasons ago.

However, Kidd now looks like a genius as Antetokounmpo has responded by averaging 19.0 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in those five starts, and he comes off of a triple-double in a 108-101 win over the Lakers on Monday where he had 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists! Meanwhile, now having the flexibility to call on Monroe and Carter-Williams when needed has strengthened a Milwaukee bench that had been a sore spot.

 

Where Has Boston Defense Gone?
The Celtics have a very defensive minded head coach in Brad Stevens, so it should come as no surprise that Boston is fifth in the NBA in field goal percentage allowed at 43.8 percent, fourth in three-point defense at 32.9 percent and fifth in defensive efficiency despite ranking only 14th in points against at 102.1 per game, with many of those points allowed being a function of playing at one of the fastest tempos in the NBA.

However, tempo has had very little to do with the defensive slump the Celtics are in now that has seen them allow 116.4 points per game and a dreadful 51.1 percent success rate from the field including 39.8 percent from beyond the arc during the current five-game span that has seen Boston go 2-3 both straight up and ATS. Moreover, the Celtics have now allowed more than 100 points in seven straight games.

Monday in Minnesota may have been the low point as the Timberwolves shot 51.8 percent overall and 53.3 percent (8-for-15) from downtown while scoring those 124 points in the bad Boston loss. Keep in mind that we are talking about a Minnesota team that is 19th in the league in scoring and 28th in three-point shooting while still sitting in last place in the Northwest Division at 18-40 right now.

 

Bucks Enjoy Visiting Beantown
Finally, the Bucks have enjoyed their recent visits to Boston, going 4-1 ATS in the last five head-to-head meetings here in Beantown. The Bucks are also a spiffy 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games inside the Eastern Conference.

Look for that recent sneaky-good play by Milwaukee in conference games to continue as it continues it recent success here in Boston in this series with another ATS cover as a sizable underdog on Thursday.

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NBA Pick: Bucks +8 
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle