The Boston Celtics are facing a BIG psychological challenge right now. They seemed to have Game 5 of their Eastern Conference playoff series under control in the fourth quarter, but they blew a 14-point lead and lost to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Now, as BetOnline customers know, they have to go on the road to even up the series and force a Game 7 back at the TD Garden. This one starts at 7 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, as the Bucks continue their quest to repeat as NBA champions.
Those Bucks made all six of their attempts from three-point territory in the fourth quarter, and the Celtics suddenly started fumbling away the basketball. When you throw in the fact that Milwaukee also saw its defensive stars shine down the stretch, including Jrue Holiday, the task became that much harder for Boston.
NBA Playoff Picks -- Here are the numbers...
In the NBA playoff odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetOnline, Milwaukee is a slight favorite:
Milwaukee Bucks - 1
Boston Celtics +1
Over 212.5 points -110
Under 212.5 points - 110
And don't forget there are many ways to wager on this contest while it is in progress!
NBA Playoff Picks -- Boston losing the battle on the boards
Milwaukee had 17 offensive rebounds in Game 5. And that's pretty indicative of how the series has gone. The Bucks have had 58 offensive rebounds in these five games, compared to just 37 for the Celts. As you can imagine, this has created a lot of additional opportunities for the defending champs.
NBA Playoff Picks -- Tatum struggling a bit
Celtics star Jayson Tatum is going to get his points, sooner or later, but that doesn't mean he's going to take good shots. He's being picked up very high in the half court by Milwaukee guards Holiday and Wesley Matthews, and so he has been kept a little off balance.
When you are not taking good shots, you are generally not going to make a high percentage. And Tatum has shot only 39% for this series.
NBA Playoff Picks -- The story with the Celtics and their big men
Robert Williams is listed as questionable for this game with a bone bruise in his knee. He has missed the last two games, and his absence definitely counts for something. He ranked first in the NBA in defensive rating this season, and he is the guy who protects the rim.
If he was healthy and playing, he would make for a great combo upfront with Al Horford, who has shot 55% in these five games, hitting 14 of 30 from beyond the three-point line.
Grant Williams has been adequate filling in up front, scoring 9.4 points per game and hitting ten treys out of 26 attempts. But the fact is, his defensive rating is quite a bit higher than either Robert Williams or Horford.
NBA Playoff Picks -- Giannis takes control
There is no question that if the Celtics can't come up with some way to control two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, they're not going any further than Friday night. He had 40 points and eleven rebounds in Game 5, and of course his roving on the defensive end (indeed, he's a former defensive player of the year) is bothersome.
NBA Playoff Picks -- The bottom line
Boston suffered the kind of loss that teams don't easily recover from, psychologically speaking. It would help if they were playing at home, but they aren't. Milwaukee has a pretty good defensive formula for them, and there's not much you can do if you're getting beaten on the boards so badly.
So we're okay with the Bucks laying this small number, and we might also look in the direction of the under.
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