The Boston Celtics play the Milwaukee Bucks on July 31, 2020, in a game between Eastern Conference elites.
The Celtics were third in the East team standings when play was suspended while the Bucks were the #1 team in the entire league. Milwaukee is a comfortable 6.5 games up on 2nd place Toronto Raptors while the Celtics are 3.5 games behind the defending champions for the second seed in the conference. Boston is trying to move up the ladder to avoid a possible first-round clash against the Philadelphia 76ers or Indiana Pacers who are battling for 6th place. The Bucks meanwhile hope to recover after going 1-4 just before the season was suspended.
The Celtics ended the Kyrie Irving experiment and the team had a better season than the previous one. Boston added Kemba Walker and he blended well right away. Jayson Tatum earned his first All-Star selection while Jaylen Brown had a breakout year. Gordon Hayward looked more relaxed and the Celtics were the third team to clinch a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Jayson Tatum led the Celtics in scoring at 23.2 points per game while also grabbing 7.2 rebounds per outing while Kemba Walker put up 21.4 points and a team-best 4.9 assists per game. Jaylen Brown also had a big year at 20.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per contest. Gordon Hayward averaged 17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game.
Boston was the #2 defensive team in the NBA, holding opponents to an average of 106.8 points per game. The Celtics were also 11th in scoring with an average of 113.0 points per game this season. They were 9th overall in team rebounding at 46.0 boards grabbed per contest but were only 22nd in passing at 22.8 assists per game.
Odds from BetOnline as of 07/29/20
The Milwaukee Bucks were on a mission this season after losing to the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals. The Bucks were the most consistent team in the league and they led the team standings from start to suspension of the season. Giannis Antetokounmpo was having another MVP season while Khris Middleton continued to improve and got another All-Star nod. However, the Bucks struggled with a 1-4 record before the season was paused and they hope the long break has given them more than enough time to refocus.
Antetokounmpo averaged 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.0 steal, and 1.0 block per game this season. Khris Middleton made 2.4 three-pointers per game and averaged 21.2 points per game while also contributing 6.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. Eric Bledsoe also put up 15.4 points and 5.1 assists while Brook Lopez led the team with 2.4 blocks per game while also scoring 11.0 per contest.
The Bucks were the top-scoring team in the league this season at 118.6 points per game. They had the 5th best scoring defense in the NBA at 107.4 points per game allowed. Milwaukee was also the #1 rebounding team this season at 51.7 boards grabbed per contest and they were also 7th in passing at 25.9 assists per game.
Boston is 13-6 SU in their last 19 games played. The Celtics are 5-1 SU in their last six games played on the road. The Bucks are 1-4 SU in their last five games played. Milwaukee is 3-4 SU in their last seven games played on the road, and 17-2 SU in their last 19 games against the Eastern Conference. Head to head, the Bucks are 7-3 SU in their last 10 games played against the Celtics.
The Bucks were the most consistent team in the league this season, just as they were in the previous one. Giannis is likely going to win a second straight MVP award while Khris Middleton was an All-Star this year. Antetokounmpo averaged 34 points per game against the Celtics this year and he should lead the Bucks again on Friday.
Despite losing to the Bucks in their last meeting on January 16, 2020, the Celtics have to feel positive knowing that Jaylen Brown didn’t play in their two games against the Bucks this season and Boston won the first one. Brown has blossomed into a 20-point scorer this season and with his length, he will provide Boston with an additional defender against either Giannis or Khris Middleton. Brown’s scoring will also add more punch to the Celtics’ attack.
The Celtics are happy to be the third team to clinch a playoff spot in the East. However, they will face the Sixers in Round 1 if the current standings will hold after the seeding games. I think this will be the most competitive game of the day and I expect a playoff atmosphere here with Boston needing a win badly. The Bucks will be up to the task but it won’t be easy. I think this game could go down to the last possession with the Bucks eking out a win over the Celtics.
Prediction: Milwaukee Bucks
Other Bets to Make
The Celtics are 5-3-2 ATS in their last 10 games played. Boston is 5-0-1 ATS in their last six games played on the road and 4-1-1 ATS in their last six games played against the Central Division. Milwaukee is 4-6 ATS in their last 10 games played. The Bucks are 1-6 ATS in their last seven away games but 5-1 ATS in their last six games played against Atlantic Division teams. Head to head, the Bucks are 4-2 ATS in their last six games played against the Celtics.
Odds from BetOnline as of 07/29/20
The Bucks have outscored the Celtics by an average of 4.7 points per game in their last 10 head to head meetings and 6.33 points per game in their last three encounters. Milwaukee was slumping when the season was paused. The break should’ve given them more than enough time to refocus. I like the Bucks to win but I think that this will be closer than what the oddsmakers think because the Celtics will have Jaylen Brown for the first time against the Bucks this season. I’ll take the plus points here.
Prediction: Celtics +4.5
The total has gone over in six out of the last 10 games played by the Celtics. Boston has seen the total go over in five out of their last six games played on the road. The total has gone over in five out of their last six games played against their Eastern Conference rivals. On the other hand, the under is 8-2 in Milwaukee’s last 10 games played. The total has gone under in five out of the last seven games played by the Bucks on the road. Head to head, the under is 3-1 in the last four meetings between these two teams.
Odds from BetOnline as of 07/28/20
These teams have combined to score an average of 221.10 points per game in their last 10 head to head meetings and 226.33 points per game in their last three encounters. The Bucks may be a Top 5 defensive team but they are also the top-scoring team in the NBA. The Celtics are 11th in the league in scoring so they can also put up points on the board. Again, we go back to this being the first game for these two teams in four months and I expect the offenses to be more in-tune than the defenses. Kemba Walker is expected to return for Boston so both teams should enjoy a full roster on Friday. I say pick the over.
Prediction: Over 218.5