Boston Celtics versus Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks continue their hot play, entering the game with the NBA’s best record at 36-8 and 19-2 at home.
They are an 8 ½-point favorite over the Celtics, who are second in the Atlantic Division with a record of 27-12 and 11-8 on the road.
Boston won the first meeting between the teams at home.
Boston is coming off a 116-103 loss to the Detroit Pistons.
They are led by Kemba Walker, who is averaging 21.7 points, and 5.1 assists while hitting 40 percent from beyond the arc.
Jayson Tatum (21.3 points), and Jaylen Brown (19.9 points, 39 percent 3pt) complete a strong scoring trio.
Add in Enes Kanter (8.6 rebounds) and Gordon Hayward (16 points) and the Celtics have a strong core.
Milwaukee is paced by MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is averaging 30 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game, all team highs.
Fellow All-Star Khris Middleton drops 19 points per game and hits 40 percent from 3pt range.
Point guard Eric Bledsoe has been a solid contributor at 15.4 points per game and George Hill torches opponents at a 51 percent rate from long range.
Comparing the two teams statistically, the Bucks are by far the top offensive team in the league, averaging 119.4 points per game, while the Celtics are 14th at 111.4 per game.
Both teams are quite good defensively in terms of points allowed with the Celtics ranked 2nd and the Bucks 9th.
Milwaukee easily leads the league in rebounding at nearly 52 per game, while Boston is ranked 11th.
Both clubs are mediocre in general from beyond the arc and Boston as a slight edge in turnover margin, ranked 8th to Milwaukee’s 12th.
The over/under for this one is set at 224.
The teams are averaging a combined 231 points per game, but don’t face each other’s defense on a nightly basis.
That will drive the scoring down some and I expect a more defensive battle.
In what could be a playoff preview, look for the Bucks to bounce back from the their first meeting and away with a win and a cover andthe total staying under.