It’s an Eastern Conference showdown in Milwaukee Thursday night as the Bucks, who have the best record in the NBA, host Boston, which has the second-best record in the conference. Coach Rick could care less where they stand as long as they continue to follow their recent trends. That, of course, can help make us some coin.
Game: Boston Celtics (27-12, 22-15-2 ATS) at Milwaukee Bucks (36-6, 24-18 ATS)
When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, January 16, 2020
Where: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Current Line: MIL -8.5 Total: 223.5
TV Coverage: TNT
For Boston, Thursday’s game comes on the heels of a Wednesday night loss to the Detroit Pistons. It was an ugly loss of sorts as the Pistons won for just the fourth time in 16 games.
Detroit has been playing without three starters and the Pistons are now just 15-27 for the season. To lose to Detroit at home…yeah, not good for the Celtics.
Now, Boston did play without second-leading scorer Jayson Tatum, who sat out Wednesday due to knee soreness. You can bet that he sat out to make sure he was ready to play against Milwaukee. Tatum is expected to travel and play on Thursday. That’s good news for Boston.
The Celtics will need Tatum since they must go up against arguably the best player in basketball – Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Greek Freak averages 30 points and 12.7 rebounds per game. The Bucks have been virtually unstoppable all season. They have won nine of their last ten games and lead the NBA in scoring (119.4 ppg).
What’s remarkable is the Bucks are also a top-10 defense ranking ninth in points allowed per game at 106.8. Milwaukee leads the league in rebounds per game too, 51.8.
Is there anything the Bucks cannot do?
Well, winning in Boston might be tricky – the Bucks lost to the Celtics in Boston back in October – but Thursday’s game is in Milwaukee. The Bucks play well at Fiserv Forum. They are 19-2 at home this season. Boston struggles away from home. The Celtics have only lost four games at home this season, but they are just 11-8 on the road.
A healthy Tatum will surely help the Celtics, who rely more on their defensive capabilities. Kemba Walker leads the team in scoring averaging 21.2 points per game followed by Tatum’s 21.3. Jaylen Brown adds 20.0 per game and Gordon Hayward, who had 25 points on Wednesday against the Pistons, averages 16.4.
Boston is second in the NBA in points allowed per game (104.6), but they are facing the top-scoring team in the league and the reigning NBA MVP on Thursday. This is a Bucks team that has scored 122 points or more in each of its last three games.
The bottom line is this. The Bucks are 12-6 ATS in their last 18 games. That may not look spectacular, but consider that the Bucks are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games against Eastern Conference opponents.
When you drill it down to opponents from the Atlantic Division, the Bucks are 4-1 ATS in their last five such games.
An 8.5-point spread might seem like a stretch, but with Giannis and the Bucks playing at home, we’re going to take the best team in basketball.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.