Boston Celtics vs Milwaukee Bucks: Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

What: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks

Where: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI

When: Thursday, February 21st at 8:00 PM EST

How (TV/Radio): TNT, NBC Sports Boston | ESPNR, 98.5 The Sports Hub, 620 AM/103.3 FM WTMJ

Boston Celtics (Away)

Head Coach: Brad Stevens {All-Time 258-210 | BOS}

The Boston Celtics enter the final half of the NBA season fourth in the Eastern Conference with an identical record to the Philadelphia 76ers. At 37-21 and 6.5 games back from first in the East, the Celtics are primed to make a run for top two in the East with their remaining schedule.

Previous to the All-Star Break the Celtics were on a two-game winning streak and were 7-3 in their last ten matches. While they lost back-to-back matches against the Clippers and Lakers, they gained impressive wins over the Sixers, Thunder, and Nets.

It will be a true test for the Celtics when they take on the Bucks. After the NBA Trade Deadline most of the NBA’s rosters are set and primed for their playoff run. They’ve split the season series to this point and the winner will gain home court advantage in the event of a tie.

Milwaukee Bucks (Home)

Head Coach: Mike Budenholzer {All-Time 256-211 | ATL, MIL}

The Milwaukee Bucks enter the rest of the season at the top of the NBA with a record of 43-14. They have been impressive all season but share the same win-total as the Toronto Raptors in second place.

Previous to the All-Star Break the Bucks held a two-game winning streak and were 8-2 in their last ten. While they slipped in a blowout to the Orlando Magic, they capped the first half of the season with impressive wins over the Bulls and Pacers.

Milwaukee are the new contenders for the East while Boston is still getting merit based on their performance in last years playoffs. In a way, it is a matchup between youthful playoff aspirations and experienced playoff runs. This match will speak volumes to what the Bucks may be able to accomplish in the post-season.

What’s At Stake?

The Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks are two classic NBA franchises. Both have had their share of success, with an all-time series record of 109-103 in favour of the Celtics.

A win or loss for the Celtics would separate themselves from the Sixers in the table dependant on an opposite result for Philadelphia.

A win for the Milwaukee Bucks would give them a 1.5 game lead over the Toronto Raptors who are in second place.

Questions to answer

Can the Celtics sort out their backcourt problems?

Is the Bucks’ big lineup a real option?

We are going to compare the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

The Celtics Are Not Better Off Without Irving

Speculation, gossip, and nonsense seems to occur around Kyrie Irving when the NBA media is hot on the trail of Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving’s oddly intertwined destiny. The Celtics have shown success without Irving but have also failed to capitalize on a lot of moments in the season that would define them as the contender many thought them to be.

Without Kyrie Irving in the lineup the Celtics are 9-2. Does that mean the Celtics are more suited to play without him? Well, the Toronto Raptors are 13-3 without Kawhi Leonard and nobody in the NBA entertain the thought that the Raptors are better without him. So why is the suggestion still rumbling with Irving?

The Celtics have an absolutely loaded backcourt and in total roster with capable ball handlers. Irving, Rozier, Smart, Hayward, Tatum, and Brown all have the capacity to score on their own or create for others. Irving is a ball-dominant guard who has shown a tendency to do it on his own to varying results. While the Celtics spread the ball more without him, it is not to suggest they are better off but more equipped to play team basketball without their greatest weapon. Are the Celtics better off without Irving? Certainly not, they do need to mesh his style of play with the rest of the squad.

The Bucks Came Back Down Ten Against the Pacers

In their last match before the All-Star Break, the Milwaukee Bucks came back from down ten to take a win against the Pacers. While their efforts and focus are commendable, it is important to note their unique change in tactics in order to acquire this win.

Budenholzer’s defensive plan encourages guards to fight over screens and have they defending big drop to the paint to prevent penetration. Down ten, Coach Bud rolled out a lineup of Brook Lopez, Ersan Ilyasova, and Giannis Antetokounmpo in the front court in an attempt to climb back.

With bigs switching with bigs, the Bucks were able to protect both the lane and the three-point arc against the Pacers. It is a tactic that is used by their rival Toronto Raptors, as they employ similar personnel in the front court. With Giannis as the dropping player, the Bucks are able to pressure the ball tightly as their interior defence doesn’t fall off with him in the paint. It is yet to be proven effective against teams with speedier guards, but it is a look at a new wrinkle in the Bucks’ already defined offence.

Boston Celtics Roster Notes

C Aron Baynes – 13 Feb 2019 – Day To Day (Foot) – Baynes did not play in Wednesday’s (Feb. 13) game against the Pistons.

G Kyrie Irving – 13 Feb 2019 – Day To Day (Strained Right Knee) – Irving did not play in Wednesday’s (Feb. 13) game against the Pistons.

G Terry Rozier – 13 Feb 2019 – Day To Day (Illness) – Rozier did not play in Wednesday’s (Feb. 13) game against the Detroit Pistons.

F Robert Williams – 13 Feb 2019 – Day To Day (Illness) – Williams did not play in Wednesday’s (Feb 13) game.

Milwaukee Bucks Roster Notes

G Donte DiVincenzo – 13 Feb 2019 – Day To Day (Bilateral Heel Bursitis) – DiVincenzo did not play in Wednesday’s (Feb 13) game.

F Nikola Mitotic – 13 Feb 2019 – Day To Day (Right Calf Strain) – Mirotic did not play in Wednesday’s (Feb 13) game.

Head-to-Head: Jayson Tatum (BOS) vs Khris Middleton (MIL)

Jayson Tatum

Small Forward | 6-8, 208lb (203cm, 94kg) | Duke | Exp. 1 Years

16.5 PPG | 1.9 APG | 6.3 RPG | 1.0 SPG | 0.7 BPG | 1.5 TOV | .453 FG% | .379 3P%

Khris Middleton

Small Forward | B6-8, 222lb (203cm, 100kg) | Texas A&M | Exp. 6 Years

17.1 PPG | 4.2 APG | 5.8 RPG | 1.1 SPG | 0.1 BPG | 2.2 TOV | .436 FG% | .378 3P%

Two star-level talents at the wing position take each other on when Khris Middleton faces off against Jayson Tatum in a matchup of Eastern Conference giants. Tatum is coming off of an impressive NBA All-Star Skills Challenge win while Middleton made history as the first G-League to NBA All-Star product the league has produced. Both will surely put on a performance to watch.

Tatum was productive while not efficient in their last matchup, going 5-15 for 20 points in a loss to the Bucks. While Tatum was still able to get to the line a couple of times, he was ineffective from range and failed to contribute in other ways. With Tatum’s talent it is unlikely that he will put forth such a performance again, but the defence of Middleton was surely a factor.

Middleton played a large part in slowing Jayson Tatum in the Bucks’ last matchup with the Celtics. He shouldt 40% from the field while contributing four three-pointers for a totally of 21 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and a steal in 33 minutes of play. Middleton is an all-around player and benefits from opportunities created by Giannis. Expect more of the same and an even more heated defensive stand on Jayson Tatum.

Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks Predictions and Odds

The odds makers have the Milwaukee Bucks favoured over the Boston Celtics by 5.5, with an over/under of 109.