Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics – Game 7
Time: 7 PM CT (TNT)
Spread: BOS -5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The home team has won every game in this series, which is unsurprising when one considered just how mediocre the Milwaukee Bucks were on the road this season. The Bucks will try to reverse that trend at the most critical of times as Game 7 takes place in the TD Garden at 7 PM (Central) on TNT. The Celtics are 5-point favorites at home, with an over/under set at 196.5 points according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
Game 6 went to the Bucks in Milwaukee as the Bucks shot 50.7 percent from the field while holding a plus-9 advantage on the boards. Giannis Antetokounmpo had his best game of the series in shooting 13 of 23 from the field for 31 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and a steal—while posting a +17 mark for his 41 minutes of court time. Khris Middleton was an efficient 7 of 8 from the floor, including 2 of 2 from three-point range, to finish with 16 points and five rebounds.
Perhaps one of the biggest difference-makers was second-year big man Thon Maker. Maker had just four points in his start, but grabbed seven boards and came up with crucial defensive plays in helping the Bucks limit Boston to just 37 percent shooting. Maker was +6 for those 25 minutes he played, while Tyler Zeller was less impressive coming off the bench to score just three points in 11 minutes.
The Bucks have been handicapped since losing defensive standout John Henson, but Maker represents the key to gaining what was lost: He is a legitimate long 7-footer who is able to disrupt plays and protect the rim, not unlike the Bucks had once with a young Larry Sanders. It could even be that Maker is the long-term solution for its starting center, or at least Game 6 would suggest that. Jabari Parker is still rounding into form, and he scored nine points on 4 of 10 shooting while grabbing 11 rebounds in 26 minutes.
If the Bucks can win this Game 7, Parker will prove elemental in the next round, as the Bucks need its No. 3 option to be in top-form, and it is still taking a while to get him there after missing the majority of the regular season rehabbing from a torn ACL, the second of his young career. The most glaring weakness the Bucks have had is its lack of depth, but with Parker starting, that would strengthen the frontcourt and allow the Bucks to “demote” last year’s Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon to the second unit where his shooting touch and scoring might prove more vital. Brogdon had 16 points in Game 6 while shooting 5 of 7 from the field, but more shots could be available to him as a reserve while simultaneously curing a major Bucks’ woes.
Boston, meanwhile, played its starters heavy minutes in Game 6, with only Marcus Morris (26 minutes, 14 FGA) proving to be at all noteworthy off the bench. Jayson Tatum has been quiet, but he did attempt 14 shots in Game 6, as the offense was more or less spread between Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris, and Tatum. The Celtics need Tatum to really take charge and provide a scoring punch, not just because he is capable of it, but because no one has stepped up as the de facto go-to player in lieu of the absence of superstar Kyrie Irving.
In Games 1 & 2, it appeared Rozier would be that man, but he shot just 5 of 17 from the field in Game 6, and Eric Bledsoe has improved his effort and defensive intensity on Rozier. The Celtics, too, can turn to Brown for offense, but he is the worst shooter of the three, and he also connected on just 1 of 6 from behind the arc in Game 6. No matter what the case, the Celtics are a better team at home, and if just two of those main three guards/wings can step up in Game 6 the C’s should prevail as oddsmakers have prognosticated.