Boston at Milwaukee
Time: NOON CT (ABC/ESPN)
Spread: MIL -4.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Boston Celtics took the first two games of the series at the TD Garden, but Milwaukee defended its home court in Game 3 as the Bucks blew out the C’s 116-92 to pull the series to 2-1. Game 4 tips off at Noon (Central Time) on ABC/ESPN, and the Bucks are 4.5-point favorites according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes. The betting total is set at 204 points, and through the first three games, the point totals were 220, 226 and 208— over the Game 4 total in all three cases.
Milwaukee won Game 3 behind 23 points from swingman Khris Middleton. The near-hero of Game 1 connected on 10 of 17 from the field and 3 of 6 from downtown while adding eight boards and seven assists. Giannis Antetokounmpo had a quieter game with 19 points, six assists, and five rebounds, but finished +16 for his 27 minutes of court time. Antetokounmpo had five fouls in the game, which kept him on the bench some, but the Bucks got great play from its reserves, led by Jabari Parker’s 17 points on 7 of 12 shooting. Eric Bledsoe had a bounce-back game after being dominated by Terry Rozier in Games 1 and 2. Bledsoe finished with 17 points on an efficient 8 of 13 while adding four boards and four assists.
But perhaps the biggest difference maker in Game 3 was reserve big man Thon Maker. The second-year center from Australia had 14 points, five rebounds, and five emphatic blocks, helping along with Tyler Zeller to make up for the injured John Henson. Zeller did a whole lot of nothing while drawing the start, but Maker’s defense was a difference-maker, to be sure. The Bucks managed to get, in total, 50 points from its reserves, while also shooting 57 percent from the floor collectively as a team.
Boston was a weak 40 percent, and its +8 advantage on the boards made little difference with Rozier having his worst game of the series in shooting just 2 of 7 from the field for nine points and nine assists.
Boston still holds a 2-1 edge and home-court advantage, but in order to secure a 3-1 lead in this series, it is going to have to get Rozier back to what he did the first two games, and also get Jaylen Brown more involved than a mere nine field goal attempts. Jayson Tatum and Al Horford both played well, but Boston’s bench shot a collective 11 of 37 from the field, and it accounted for long dry spells.
There is also the fact that the Bucks led by 15 after the first quarter and left the C’s reserves trying to make up the difference. These woes can be typical of playoff teams on the road, but Boston showed in Game 3 why this series should be much closer than it appeared to be in the opening two games in Boston.
Expect the Bucks to battle strong and tie the series up before it goes back to Boston, where we anticipate a swing game in Game 5.