Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics NBA Pick – December 21st

There is a lot to consider on tonight’s huge 10-game NBA betting slate. There are probably 4-5 games I like, but the best bet may reside in Boston where the Celtics host the Milwaukee Bucks.

This is a huge showdown to start separating the top teams in the Eastern Conference and nobody should be shocked by the virtual pick’em at TD Garden. Which way should you bet, though? Read on to find out:

Milwaukee Bucks (+1, -110) @ Boston Celtics (-1, -110) Total: 224 (-110)

If you have to pick a side, it’s awfully tough to go against the Celtics tonight. Not only are they 9-4 at home, but they’ve been largely on fire lately, going 8-2 over their last 10 games. Milwaukee has also struggled on then road a bit, which is where six of their nine losses have come.

The Bucks are 3-1 against the spread as road underdogs, though, so use that how you will.

I still think Boston is the logical straight up pick, but I don’t think that’s the play here. Instead, I am infatuated with a gross 224 Total in a game that features two of the best defenses in basketball.

Boston and Milwaukee both rank inside the top-five in defensive efficiency and have a slew of players that can disrupt offenses. The Bucks happen to be the number one scoring defense in The Association at the moment, while the Celtics remain respectable at 14th overall.

Pace has something to do with it if you look at the Celtics, as Kyrie Irving and company are the 10th slowest team in the league. Add in their middling offensive efficiency (13th) and Boston really needs to be clicking to put up a ton of points.

They actually have been doing that during their hot stretch, but a lot of their elite production came against bad defensive teams like the Bulls, Wizards and Hawks.

I’m not seeing a clear path to easy buckets against the Bucks, which may result in Boston playing slower than usual tonight. A slower game with tight defense on both sides should lead to the Under and it’s not like we’re dealing with a Total that’s priced to adjust to either team’s defensive upside.

This isn’t a 205, 210 or 215 Total. It’s marked as though both of these teams are going to come into TD Garden and light it up as if they don’t have a difficult opponent in front of them that, you know, plays defense.

I’ll admit that’s not impossible, but I also don’t think it’s overly likely. The Celtics have cooled down over their last two games, dropping bad losses to the Pistons and Suns – the latter being an ugly loss at home.

That could cause them to refocus defensively, control the pace and buckle down for a big win over a surging rival.

Bettors didn’t see that in the first meeting earlier this year (230 Total), but that game was in Milwaukee where the Bucks dictated the pace. On top of that, the game went down on November 1st, long before Boston snapped into high gear and started playing solid basketball.

The games before that in this series haven’t been so explosive. A changing Bucks team certainly adjusts that, but it’s still worth noting that the highest Total these two teamed up for during the regular season last year was 211. They did meet in the playoffs, too, but in seven games they topped a 224 Total just one time.

Regardless of how it plays out, this is a huge Total and I think you’re getting easy value with the Under tonight. A secondary bet would be just taking Boston to win/cover at home.

My Pick
UNDER 224