The Boston Celtics crossed a huge bridge in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks. After blowing a lead in Game 5, and letting that one slip out of their hands, they got their act together and came up with a major win on the road.
BetOnline customers now have to ponder the possibilities as the Celts could welcome back the guy who led the league in Defensive Rating.
No, we're not talking about Marcus Smart, who was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year. We're talking about the big man, the rim protector - Robert Williams, who is said to be "available" for the team for this seventh and deciding game, which is slated for 3:30 PM ET at the TD Garden.
Williams, the athletic center out of Texas A&M, has missed the last three games with a knee injury. And head coach Imo Udoka has said that he would not be inserted into the lineup until he was 100%.
On Friday, the Celtics, who had blown a 14-point fourth quarter lead in Game 5, rebounded with a 108-95 victory to force this game 7. It was a tremendous battle of the titans; Giannis Antetokounmpo had 17 points in the first quarter, on his way to 44 points and 20 rebounds, but Jayson Tatum, who had been harassed effectively by the Bucks in most of the previous games, exploded for 46 points.
And it was quite a pleasant surprise to Celtics fans that they were able to hold Milwaukee to just one offensive rebound in the fourth quarter.
So what about this game? At BetOnline, here are the NBA playoff odds:
Boston Celtics -5
Milwaukee Bucks +5
Over 205 Points -110
Under 205 Points -110
The Celtics present a natural problem for the Bucks in that they are able to run their people off the three-point line. And when Milwaukee got enough of an open look, they were only able to make seven of 29 attempts.
Maybe they'll be more dependent on triples when Robert Williams is on the floor, but we wonder how much time he's going to spend out there. Giannis has been able to drive to the rim without a lot of resistance, and he's a 40-minute player.
Maybe the Bucks need to unleash Pat Connaughton a little more. The Notre Dame alum is 14 of 28 from downtown in this series.
Milwaukee is fifth in the NBA in both three-pointers and three-point percentage, yet they are behind 237-171 in terms of points produced by triples. Of course, because the Bucks' defensive scheme tends to allow opponents to shoot a lot of treys, if the other team gets hot they have trouble.
The Bucks still figure to be the better team on the boards. And up until Game 6, they were able to hold Tatum to just 39% shooting. With stoppers like Giannis, Jrue Holiday and Wesley Matthews, it's quite possible that they can make some adjustments and change the dynamic a bit.
Milwaukee has gotten a great series out of Holiday, but aside from him and Giannis, the Bucks really need somebody else to step up as a scorer.
But if they have an edge on the glass that counts for something with us. We're expecting some drama, and aside from looking for a contest dominated by defense (translation - "under"), we wouldn't be surprised if this went down to the last shot. Take the points.
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