The post-deadline Boston Celtics will have trouble beating the NBA odds this Friday when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks.
Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Friday, March 26, 2021 – 7:30 PM ET at Fiserv Forum
Timing is everything. Both the Milwaukee Bucks (29-14 SU, 20-23 ATS) and Boston Celtics (21-23 SU, 20-24 ATS) were busy before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, pulling off some useful trades to give their respective playoff drives a boost. There’s one big difference, though: Milwaukee made their move last week, while Boston slipped under the wire with a pair of deadline-day deals. That means the C’s might be a bit too short-handed to be the right NBA pick for this Friday’s matchup, now that they’ve opened as 5-point road dogs at Heritage Sports.
Nice, Price, Theis
Let’s start by addressing the trades in question. Last week, the Bucks sent D.J. Augustin and D.J. Wilson to the Houston Rockets for P.J. Tucker and Rodions Kurucs – a deal that also included a swap of first-round picks. Milwaukee also sent Torrey Craig to the Phoenix Suns for cash money. Kurucs is on the COVID-19 list and still recovering from an oblique injury, but Tucker is already in the Bucks lineup, and he looks like pretty much the same 3-and-D guy he was for Houston when they were still title contenders. Nice piece of business there.
The two trades Boston made on Thursday (one confirmed, one said to be nearing completion at press time) weren’t too bad, either. Getting Evan Fournier from the Orlando Magic for a pair of second-round picks was nice. Fournier has developed into a quality offensive wing, and Boston needed one of those after letting Gordon Hayward walk during the offseason. He fits in nicely with their core players at a reasonable price.
The unconfirmed deal sees Daniel Theis reportedly on his way to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Moritz Wagner, who had come over from the Washington Wizards in a separate deadline-day trade. It’s a slight short-term downgrade from Theis to Wagner, but only a slight one, and Wagner is five years younger with a team option for 2021-22, while Theis is about to hit free agency. A perfectly cromulent deal for both sides.
The Williams Wall
So here’s the problem for the Celtics – Wagner presumably won’t be available for Friday’s game, and neither will Theis now that he’s Chicago’s property. The C’s are already short-handed at center with Tristan Thompson under COVID-19 protocol and reportedly not with the team during this three-game road swing. This is a great opportunity for Robert Williams, who leads the team with a plus-6.2 Box Plus/Minus (as per Basketball Reference), but he’s started a grand total of three games in the NBA, and none this season.
If that weren’t enough, Semi Ojeleye took a shot to the left hip during Wednesday’s 121-119 loss to Milwaukee (–7 at home) and might not be able to play Friday. The Celtics did very well to fight back from a giant deficit and nearly win that game; they’ll find it harder to do it again without Theis, and harder still without Ojeleye – and now they’re being asked to do it at +5 on the NBA odds board instead of +7. We’ll fade that for a dollar.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.