Last postseason, Boston needed seven games to oust Milwaukee in their first round matchup out East. The Celtics’ home court advantage meant the series, as both teams held serve at home in each of the seven games.
Milwaukee’s spectacular regular season compared to Boston’s turbulent one figured to be the difference, at least according to oddsmakers. The Bucks had the home court advantage this time around.
Emphasize had. The Celtics didn’t waste any time in stealing away that advantage on Sunday afternoon with a resounding 112–90 victory at the Fiserv Forum. Kyrie Irving led all scorers with twenty-six points and Al Horford not only scored twenty, but held down Giannis Antetokounmpo on the other end of the floor.
The Bucks were 8-point favorites in Game 1 but have slipped down to -7 on Tuesday night after their shaky start. They are still slight series favorites but, obviously, that will change in a big way if there’s a repeat of Game 1 tonight.
We have successfully played spots in our two NBA postseason plays so far, both in the Denver/San Antonio series. The first of the two was on Denver in Game 2 after it lost on its home floor in Game 1.
People around the NBA will tell you just how difficult it is to win Game 2 after stealing a road victory in Game 1. Often times, it took a remarkable effort to steal that Game 1 and, even more importantly, the team that began with the home court advantage absolutely must salvage a split before going on the road. The Bucks swept the Pistons in the first round but quickly find themselves with their backs up against the wall in the second round after what has been nearly a flawless six-plus months of basketball.
The spot is a green light to play Milwaukee and the fact that the poor Game 1 performance has actually cheapened it up a little bit (from -8 to -7) only encourages this play. I’m going to back the Bucks but I must stay I don’t feel nearly as confident about it as I did either of our first two winners.
For one, Boston has more talent. Malcolm Brogdon isn’t a tipping point but the Bucks’ guard remains out with a foot problem. He’s part of Milwaukee’s best lineup and every little point of production adds up in the postseason. Boston had problems in the regular season but it looks synergies and focused in the postseason, playing “the Butler way” for Brad Stevens.
This is also a new spot for the Bucks, being favored this late in the playoffs and holding home court advantage. The pressure was on them going into the series and it’s only more the case now. If they let doubt creep in after getting blown out in Game 1, this one will be a struggle, at best.
The only hope here is that the Celtics relax a little, having won the home court, and Milwaukee turns up the defense a notch. The Bucks have to win this series with a defense that just didn’t show up in Game 1. If these things don’t happen, I believe Boston could actually still be showing great value at +7/+7.5. Another easy cover and those kind of numbers will disappear for good.
So it’s a play but it’s a very skeptical one that doesn’t warrant any more than one percent of your bankroll, if that. Let’s see if the Bucks bounce back and make it a series.
Play: Milwaukee -7