NBA Picks for Celtics vs. Bucks

Jason Lake

Monday, February 10, 2014 4:39 PM GMT

Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 4:39 PM GMT

Rajon Rondo won’t be playing for the Boston Celtics on Monday against the Milwaukee Bucks. Does that make Boston a better value against the NBA lines?

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to February 8 inclusive:

61-49-1 ATS

15-13 Totals

Most people have to work at least two days in a row quite often. Not so much in the NBA, but it does happen occasionally, and Monday’s going to be one of those days for the Boston Celtics. Well, not all of them. Rajon Rondo will be given a maintenance day off after he played 37 minutes in Boston’s 102-91 loss to the Dallas Mavericks (–4 away). They were 37 good minutes, too: 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting with 12 assists and eight rebounds.

Looks like Rondo’s back in the flow after missing the first half of the season recovering from a torn ACL. But his absence on Monday could actually help the Celtics (18-34 SU, 25-26-1 ATS) beat the NBA odds when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks (9-41 SU, 19-31 ATS). Milwaukee is a 2-point home dog on the early basketball lines with a total of 191.

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A Time for Healing

The Celtics have been pretty difficult to pin down this year as an NBA betting commodity. They cashed in handsomely at 13-9 ATS to start the 2013-14 campaign, playing with youthful zest for first-year head coach Brad Stevens. But then the C’s hit a rough patch and started jettisoning ballast – first Courtney Lee (14.9 PER), then Jordan Crawford (16.1 PER). They also started playing veterans Kris Humphries (18.2 PER) and Gerald Wallace (9.9 PER) more – with mixed results, as you can see.

Fading the Celtics became fashionable once Rondo (11.7 PER) returned on Jan. 17. Point guard is a very demanding position, and Rondo plays a physical game, so sharp bettors were ready to pounce while Rondo worked his way into game shape. It took a while, too. His first six games were not very good, and Boston obliged by going 0-6 SU and 1-5 ATS. The past three games, on the other hand, were much better for Rondo and the Celtics at 2-1 SU and ATS. That includes Sunday’s loss to the Mavericks.

Three Days Grace

So why should it help Boston, at least from a basketball betting standpoint, to take Rondo out of the picture? Well, it might not be so beneficial now that he’s playing better, but note that Rondo has already taken three maintenance days off since his return, and the C’s went 2-1 SU and ATS in those three games.

The most recent of those games was Friday’s 99-89 victory over the Sacramento Kings, where Boston cashed in as a 1.5-point road dog. Phil Pressey (6.9 PER) started the game and played 22 minutes of Rondoball: defense, assists and not much shooting. That would be provided by Jerryd Bayless (12.8 PER), who scored 19 points in 28 minutes off the bench and hit four of his five trey attempts. That’s a pretty decent 1-2 punch right there.

Monday NBA Picks of the Day

Hey Now

Of course, you could put Skip Bayless in at point guard and still beat the Bucks. They’re leading the tank brigade toward the 2014 NBA Draft, but don’t look now, folks, because Milwaukee is on a 4-0 ATS streak. The Bucks’ fortunes have also been tied to the absence and recovery of their top player, center Larry Sanders (14.1 PER), who missed nearly two months with a torn thumb ligament. Sanders, like Rondo, has played much better of late – witness his 25 points and 15 rebounds in Wednesday’s 110-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets (–11.5 at home).

One problem: Sanders took a James Harden elbow to the eye on Saturday and is questionable to face the Celtics. In which case, Zaza Pachulia (14.6 PER) and Miroslav Raduljica (16.7 PER) should get more minutes, like they did in Milwaukee’s 101-95 loss to the Houston Rockets (–11 away). Hmmm… anyone want to bet the UNDER? It’s 10-4 in Boston’s last 14 games.

NBA Pick: Take UNDER 191 (–104) at Marathon

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