The Boston Celtics visit the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday in Game 3 of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series. The defending NBA champion Bucks shocked the Celtics in Game 1 of this series, but the Celtics dominated Milwaukee in Game 2. The series now is a best-of-five and it shifts to Milwaukee for Games 3 and 4. Boston Jayson Tatum’s said it really well when he noted that each series is all about adjustments. “Every game isn’t gonna be perfect,” Jayson Tatum said to the media. “We’re playing against the defending champs. They punched us in the mouth first game. I knew we were going to be ready tonight from a competitiveness standpoint. Making adjustments from game to game, I think that’s what the playoffs are about.” Let’s look at Game 3 between the Celtics and Bucks and NBA Playoff betting picks.
Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks
Date and Time: Saturday, May 7, 2022, 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
NBA Odds: Bucks -3, Total 213
Celtics at Bucks TV Coverage: ABC
The opening line for this game hit the board with the Bucks listed as a 2.5-point favorite with a total of 214. There has been slight movement toward Milwaukee, as they are now listed as a 3-point favorite. The total has dropped from the opening number of 214 to the current 213. The first two games of this series have been easy unders. Game 1 saw the total hit the board at 218.5 and the teams combined to score just 190 points. Game 2 the total actually went up from 213.5 to 215.5 but the smart money was wrong, as the under easily cashed again.
The Celtics had the best defense in the NBA over the second half of the regular season and that defense showed up in a big way in Game 2. They were really tough on Giannis Antetokounmpo who did score 28 points but was just 11 of 27 from the field with six turnovers. The Celtics made the mistake of double teaming Giannis in Game 1 and he passed the ball all over the court and Milwaukee hit easy open shots. The Celtics relied on Grant Williams and Al Horford to play Giannis one-on-one in Game 2 and they were able to slow him down. “The guys on him, they’re solid, good defenders and then quite a bit of help,” Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenhozer said to the media. “That’s where he’s just got to see and feel it — do we kick it and get more 3s or he’s got to finish against one-on-one defense. So, I think it’s a little bit of both. But Giannis, he always figures things out.”
The Celtics are extremely well coached and head coach Ime Udoka made a number of adjustments in Game 2 and they paid off. Boston is by far the better defensive team in this series and if they play as they did in Game 2 they will win this series. The Celtics have plenty of scorers, but to win they need to clamp down on Giannis.
The Bucks had no answers for Boston in Game 2 and they were blown off the court. It could be that the Bucks will struggle throughout this series without Khris Middleton. Milwaukee was able to find ways to score in Game 1 with Giannis making a lot of good decisions, but it was not so easy in Game 2. For Milwaukee to win this series they will need other players, beyond Giannis to help out and they will also need superb play from Giannis. They got that in Game 1, but Giannis struggled in Game 2.
Celtics at Bucks Pick
I am surprised the line moved toward Milwaukee for this game on Saturday. The Celtics should once again be excellent on defense and perhaps even better with Marcus Smart back in the lineup. I don’t know that Giannis can beat Boston all by himself, as I think the Celtics have the better overall team. I’ll take the points with the Celtics in Game 3.
Check out the latest NBA Playoff odds at SugarHouse.