Home court has proven to be extremely valuable in the Eastern Conference First Round series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics. The second-seeded Celtics won the first two games on their home floor, and then the seventh-seeded Bucks won the next two contests on their home floor.
In today’s Game 5, Boston is a slim favorite to continue the trend at home, but Milwaukee does have the momentum in the series (7 p.m. ET Tuesday on TNT).
The Bucks’ star duo of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton has been a key factor in this series, as has the defensive play of Thon Maker in Games 3 and 4.
Boston struggled offensively in Milwaukee, but one bright spot from the series has been second-year forward Jaylen Brown. Brown has averaged 23.8 points per game in the series. The Celtics may also be getting defensive stalwart Marcus Smart back from his thumb surgery.
Game 5 will be pivotal for both squads. This preview will discuss some factors at play today and then give our Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics Game 5 predictions, along with betting picks at best available odds with the USA internet bookmakers.
Can Thon Maker Continue to Be a Factor for the Bucks?
The 21-year-old Maker played a total of one minute in the first two games of this series. In fact, his second NBA regular season as a whole was pretty unremarkable. While his per-game averages went up across the board, he scored, rebounded, assisted and blocked shots worse on a per-minute basis compared to his rookie year. His scoring efficiency also plummeted.
In Games 3 and 4, Bucks coach Joe Prunty turned to Maker for a spark. In both games, he delivered and ended up playing big minutes. Maker combined for a whopping 10 blocks in the two contests and hit a total of five threes in nine attempts. Milwaukee was a plus-27 in his minutes and a minus-1 with him on the bench.
This is not what we have come to expect from Maker. However, he is still a young player growing into his role. Let’s see if he keeps up the play or if the Celtics make any adjustments to stop him from making a big impact.
Will Celtics’ Home Crowd Coax Better Start?
Poor starts doomed the Celtics in both Games 3 and 4. In Game 3, Boston started the game making just two of its first 20 shots and committing nine turnovers in the first 13-plus minutes of the contest. Naturally, the Bucks raced out to a 32-12 lead. From that point, Milwaukee coasted to a blowout victory, even though the Bucks’ advantage the rest of the way was just 84-80.
Game 4 wasn’t quite as extreme, but Boston did let Milwaukee get out to a 30-17 advantage through the first 14-plus minutes of the game. Once again, it was mainly offensive struggles that did the Celtics in.
Slow starts were not at all a problem for the Celtics at home, as they raced out to a double-digit lead at the end of the first quarter in both Game 1 and Game 2. Boston needs to be the team coming out with more energy and focus in Game 5 as the higher seed playing at home.
Can Boston Have Someone Step Up As No. 1 Scorer?
Without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, the Celtics have had to find a different player to carry the offense depending on the night. In Game 1, they had four guys with at least 20 points. In Games 2 and 4, Jaylen Brown dropped 30 and 34 points, respectively. Then in Game 3, Boston’s leading scorer (Al Horford) had only 16 points. Not surprisingly, Game 3 was the one game in the series where Milwaukee clearly looked like the better team.
When at least one Celtic has it going like a top option on offense, the rest of the roster benefits because it can attack a defense that must load up to stop the hot player.
However, as we saw in Game 3, the Boston offense can look awfully weak when no one steps up as a reliable, efficient shot creator. At least one of either Brown, Horford, Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum or Marcus Morris needs to play like a star in Game 5.
Our Preview’s Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics Game 5 Betting Picks & Predictions
Boston has the better coach, the slightly better roster and is at home. The Celtics also have more pressure on them as the higher seed in the series and could have the emotional lift of getting Marcus Smart back. They should be able to get the job done after coming so close to doing so in Game 4. Our Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics predictions are:
- Betting sites are consistent in how many points they are giving Boston. The Celtics are currently a 3-point favorite for today’s Game 5. This seems like a spread Boston should be able to cover. Put your money on the Celtics -3pts @ -110 with 5Dimes, Intertops and Bookmaker. It is -115 with Bovada and BetOnline.
- The Celtics should be ready to rev their offense back up on their home floor against an inconsistent Bucks defense. Considering the amount of strong role players Boston has, the home floor factor should be huge in terms of cashing in on open shots. Our pick is to bet the over 204 total points @ -110 with Bookmaker. It is 204.5 or 205pts with most others.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.