Take The Bucks In Christmas ‘Revenge Game’ Against Celtics

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The headliner of the NBA’s Christmas extravaganza is definitely the matchup between the two best teams in the East. The first-place Milwaukee Bucks (22-9) visit the Boston Celtics (22-10) at TD Garden for a 5 p.m ET tipoff.

  • Both teams’ records are as of Thursday, December 22nd, and each play Friday.

This is a rematch of the second-round Bucks-Celtics Eastern Conference playoff series that Boston won 4-3, ending Milwaukee’s title defense en route to an NBA Finals appearance.

Furthermore, Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum and Bucks two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo are tied for best odds to win 2022-23 NBA MVP at DraftKings Sportsbook (+250).

But, with all due respect to Tatum, Giannis is the best player on the floor and a tier higher than Tatum. Boston eliminated Milwaukee last season because the Bucks were missing All-Star Khris Middleton and the Celtics had a home-court advantage.

Boston Celtics SF Jayson Tatum hangs on the rim after a dunk during the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden in Boston.
Boston Celtics SF Jayson Tatum hangs on the rim after a dunk during the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden in Boston. (Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)

Granted, the Celtics are the home team on Christmas and, as of Friday, both teams could be without key players. Middleton is “doubtful” to play in Milwaukee’s game Friday vs. the Brooklyn Nets.

Celtics PG, and reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Marcus Smart is listed on Boston’s Friday injury report as “questionable”. To make this handicap simpler, let’s say both Middleton and Smart suit up for Christmas.

In that case, gimme the Bucks plus the points and on the moneyline (ML). Milwaukee at full strength is a better team and Boston is still working defensive frontcourt anchor, C Robert Williams III, back into the lineup.

Betting Details (DraftKings)

  • Moneyline: BUCKS (+140), Celtics (-165)
  • Against the spread (ATS): BUCKS +4 (-110), Celtics -4 (-110)
  • Total — 219.5 — Over (O): -110, UNDER (U): -110

After a red-hot start, Boston has cooled off recently. The Celtics have lost five of their last six games (0-5-1 ATS) including three straight at home to the Orlando Magic (twice) and Indiana Pacers.

Boston took back-to-back double-digit ass-whoopings from the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers on the road from December 10-12.

Perhaps the Celtics are getting opponents’ best shots since they were in the NBA Finals last season. There’s been a lot of moving pieces in Boston’s lineup to cause this recent downturn too.

Tatum sat out of the Celtics’ 95-92 loss to the Magic Sunday. Williams has come off the bench in all three games since his return. Smart missed Boston’s 117-112 loss to the Pacers Wednesday.

Milwaukee Bucks SF Giannis Antetokounmpo dribbles against Boston Celtics SF Jaylen Brown at TD Garden in Boston.
Milwaukee Bucks SF Giannis Antetokounmpo dribbles against Boston Celtics SF Jaylen Brown at TD Garden in Boston. (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

The bottom line is the Celtics don’t have their ducks in a row at the moment. They are dead last in offensive rating this month and Middleton’s return would push the Bucks over the top in this matchup.

Milwaukee won the battle of possessions vs. Boston in their playoff series last season. The Bucks outrebounded the Celtics and had a better turnover rate.

However, Boston has two guys who could create their own shot (Tatum and All-Star Jaylen Brown) while the Bucks only had one.

If Middleton can play, I love Milwaukee ATS. Either way, the Bucks have the better defense (more on that below), the best player, and are playing better coming into Christmas.

BET: Bucks +4 (-110) & ‘sprinkle’ on Milwaukee’s ML (+140) at DraftKings Sportsbook

The Milwaukee Bucks' odds at the Boston Celtics from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Friday, December 23rd at 9 a.m. ET.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ odds at the Boston Celtics from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Friday, December 23rd at 9 a.m. ET.

‘Stocking Stuff’ Bet: UNDER 223.5 (-110) in Bucks-Celtics at DraftKings Sportsbook

Not only does Boston have the worst offensive rating in December but Milwaukee is 26th in non-garbage time offensive rating over the past two weeks, according to CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG).

The Bucks average just 106.4 points per game (PPG) on the road compared to 118.2 PPG. The Celtics’ 109.5 PPG this month is down from their season average of 118.0 PPG. Boston is allowed two PPG fewer in Dec. (112.3-110.3 PPG).

Milwaukee big Brook Lopez is the favorite to win the 2022-23 NBA Defensive Player of the Year currently and the Bucks are third in defensive rating. The Celtics rank seventh in defensive rating and have two NBA All-Defensive players.

Boston Celtics C Robert Williams and SF Jaylen Brown go for a rebound against the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals at the TD Garden in Boston.
Boston Celtics C Robert Williams and SF Jaylen Brown go for a rebound against the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals at the TD Garden in Boston. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Both have a bottom-four defensive turnover rate, are top-eight in defensive rebounding rate and top 10 in paint PPG allowed. This tells me there will be a lot of long offensive possessions that finish with contested jumpers and defensive rebounds.

The Over in Bucks-Celtics is the most popular NBA Christmas bet at DraftKings Sportsbook, per VSIN. Nearly 90% of the money at the time of writing is on the Over and we know nine of 10 sports bettors don’t make money.

Odds for the Under in Milwaukee Bucks at the Boston Celtics from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Friday, December 23rd at 10 a.m. ET.
Odds for the Under in Milwaukee Bucks at the Boston Celtics from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Friday, December 23rd at 10 a.m. ET.

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Written by Geoff Clark

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