The Boston Celtics will host the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs, Round one.
The Celtics (55-27, 27-14 home) have been hit severely by injuries this season. After losing Gordon Hawyard for the year right in the first game of the season, they were able to still play at a high level and secure the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference, but now they lost their best player Kyrie Irving as well. While the Celtics are still a force given their deep roster and excellent coach, their hopes for a championship are definitely gone. That being said, they will feel they still have enough to at least knock out Milwaukee and advance to the second round.
The Bucks (44-38, 19-22 away) were expected to be better this season given the emergence of Giannis Antetokounmpo as a legit superstar in the league, but they were only able to muster a 7th place finish in the East. The team played poorly in 2018 and fired coach Jason Kidd in late January, deciding to end the year with Joe Prunty as an interim manager. The Bucks are 6-4 in their last 10 games, which is not that good considering that they were motivated until the very last game, while meeting many teams which were tanking.Bet on Celtics v Bucks and claim a 100% (100 Eur) welcome bonus at Ohmbet now!
Team news: The Celtics will miss Irving, Hayward, Smart and Theis, the first three being key players. However, all of them have been out for some time, so Boston had time to adjust. The Bucks will be at full strength, with no injured players.
Despite all their injury problems, the Celtics are 15-8 since the All Star Break, while the Bucks are only 11-12. These records are even more telling considering the fact that Boston had many meaningless games late in the regular season (as they had the 2nd seed on lock), while the Bucks had to play at full steam to the very last game – and still couldn`t get the job done on a consistent basis.
While the loss of Kyrie Irving has definitely hurt / ruined Boston`s chances to make a deep playoff run, the team should still be good enough to have a solid postseason and advance at least one round. This is not a team which relies on one player, but it`s a well oiled machine, arguably the best coached team in the entire league, and they had time to adjust to playing without their injured guys.
This might actually be the biggest mismatch in the playoffs in terms of coaching, as Boston has the exceptional Brad Stevens at the helm, while Milwaukee will be led by an interim head coach who did not prove he is able to steady the ship.
The regular season series between the two teams ended tied at 2-2. Just 10 days ago the two teams met in Milwaukee, with Boston having no motivation and nursing the same injuries, and a very motivated Bucks side barely won by 4 points.
The Bucks will have the best player on the court, but they are just too dependent on Giannis Antetokounmpo, as they don`t have much else. They lack outside shooting, and aren`t playing very well as a team either. A smart, well coached team like the Celtics should expose these issues, limit Giannis and win the game as a consequence – even if they are shorthanded.
Home court advantage will be key as well, so my tip here will be the Boston Celtics to win. Odds for the straight victory are solid, which makes me avoid the more risky 4.5 point handicap. Prediction: Boston Celtics – Milwaukee Bucks 107 – 101.