Celtics are the NBA Picks as Road Favorites Visiting Bucks in Milwaukee

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 9:16 PM GMT

The Boston Celtics rather quietly have the third best record in the Eastern Conference as they look to try and stay within reach of Toronto when they visit the last-place Bucks.

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NBA Pick: Celtics -4
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes 

Do not look now but the Boston Celtics (31-22, 30-22-1 ATS) have moved all the way up to the three-seed in the Eastern Conference as they try to stay within range of the Toronto Raptors in the Atlantic Division when they pay a visit to the last-place Milwaukee Bucks (20-32, 25-26-1 ATS) at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI at 8:05 ET in a game available on FOX Sports - Wisconsin.

The point spread at 5Dimes has Boston as a moderate road favorite for this contest with the current line at -4 on the NBA odds board at odds of -105.

 

Five Straight Wins for Boston
The Celtics have been the winning NBA picks in five straight games, allowing them to pass the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat by 1½ games for the third seed in the East. Boston remains in second place in the Atlantic Division behind the second seeded Raptors, but that margin is not insurmountable at five games. The Celtics have also not minded travelling this season as they have a winning 15-12 straight up record on the road.

The Bucks on the other hand are in last place in the Central Division, which is disappointment after making the NBA Playoffs as a six seed in their first season under Coach Jason Kidd last year. And it is easy to see why Milwaukee has declined as there has been a harsh deterioration of the defense.

 

Won at Cleveland Last Road Game
The last time the Celtics were on the road, all they did was go into Cleveland and upset LeBron James and the Cavaliers 104-103 on a three-point basket by Avery Bradley at the final buzzer Friday, capping a remarkable comeback after being down by five points with 18.6 seconds remaining! Boston then rode that momentum to a 46-point first quarter back home on Sunday en route to a handy 128-119 win over the Sacramento Kings for its fifth straight win.

The Celtics have remained rather underrated this season despite playing solid basketball on both ends of the court. Boston is now fourth in the NBA in scoring with 105.0 points per game, an average that goes up to 109.0 points over they last five games on 45.9 percent shooting, which is up from the 43.9 percent Boston is shooting for the season. The Celts should have very little trouble scoring points tonight vs. the disappointing Milwaukee defense.

On the other end of the court, Boston is 10th in the league in points against at 100.7 per game, but the truth is that the defense is better than that ranking. That is because the Celtics are fourth in field goal percentage allowed at 43.1 percent, third in three-point defense at 32.3 percent and most importantly second in defensive efficiency behind only San Antonio, as the points Boston allows is mostly a function of playing at the third fastest pace in the NBA.

 

Where Has the Defense Gone?
When the Bucks made their surprising playoff run last year, the defense was a major catalyst with Milwaukee ranking eighth in the league in points against at 97.4 per game and fifth in field goal percentage allowed at 43.7 percent. It has been a totally different story this season though with the Bucks ranking 20th in points against at 102.9 per game and 19th in field goal percentage allowed at 45.1 percent.

And unfortunately, the Bucks have lacked the offense to make up for their steep defensive decline, averaging just 97.8 points to rank 25th in the league. Just the fact that the Bucks are averaging less than 98 points per game is noteworthy here because the Celtics are 23-2 this season when allowing 98 points or less, including the first meeting between these teams this year when Milwaukee managed a mere 83 points in a 99-83 defeat.

The prospects of offensive improvement by the Bucks are not bright here considering they have been even worse than their overall average as of late, averaging just 93.2 points over the last five games.

 

Head-to-Head Dominance
Finally, that earlier romp by the Celtics over the Bucks this season made Boston 5-1 ATS in the last six head-to-head meetings overall including 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings in Milwaukee. Also, the Celtics are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games inside the Eastern Conference and 5-0 ATS in their last five games after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game, while the Bucks are 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall, all straight up losses.

These are two teams heading in opposite directions with the Celtics being one of the hottest teams in the entire NBA at 12-3 over the last 15 games and the Bucks having lost five straight, and we look for a continuation of the norm with Boston covering as a moderate favorite visiting Milwaukee on Tuesday.