Oskeim Sports previews Game 6 of the NBA Playoffs between the Celtics and Bucks. Oskeim recommends taking the Boston Celtics plus the points as one of his free sports picks for Thursday, April 26.
My math model only favors Milwaukee by 2 1/2 points and the Celtics are now 8-1 ATS in their last nine First Round playoff games following Tuesday’s 92-87 victory (as 4.5-point favorites). The betting market continues to discount the inherent coaching mismatch between Brad Stevens and Joe Prunty.
Despite suffering an inordinate number of injuries, Stevens led the Celtics to 55 wins during the regular season, finishing with the league’s best mark against-the-spread (50-32-2 ATS).
In contrast, Joe Prunty has never been a head coach in the playoffs and is little more than an interim placeholder until Milwaukee’s front office commences its head coaching search during the offseason.
Boston is 7-1 ATS in the last seven meetings in this series and has covered the spread in eight of its previous 10 trips to Milwaukee. The Celtics are a profitable 36-16 ATS in their last 52 road affairs and 41-18-2 ATS in their last 61 road tilts against teams with a winning home record, including 19-7 ATS versus .601 or greater opposition.
Meanwhile, the Bucks are just 15-32-4 ATS in their last 51 home games, 8-21 ATS in their previous 29 games versus .501 or greater opposition and 1-7 ATS in their previous 8 first-round playoff games. Let’s also note that Milwaukee is 3-12-1 ATS in its last 16 home games versus teams with a winning road mark.
One of the main issues facing Milwaukee is its subpar bench which owned a net rating of -3.9 this season during the regular season (worst among playoff teams). I should also note that Boston had more road wins during the regular season than the Bucks garnered on their home floor.
The Betting Market’s Overreaction to Injuries
Without Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart, Boston’s unit of Rozier, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Baynes posted a +14.2 net rating during the regular season (91.8 defensive efficiency).
When Marcus Morris replaced Brown, the unit remained equally strong with a net rating of +18.2 (80.8 defensive efficiency). I should also note that Horford, Brown and Tatum are the top-3 on the team in plus-minus per 48 minutes this season.
Without Irving and Smart on the court, the aforementioned trio posted a plus-minus of +13.7 points per 48 minutes this season (+85 points in 298.7 minutes). In games without Irving, Horford posted a plus-minus of +7.1 per 48 minutes in the regular season; Brown posted a plus-minus of +7.0, and Tatum owned a plus-minus of +5.7 per 48 minutes.
Marcus Smart is Back
After being sidelined for the past six weeks with a thumb injury, Marcus Smart took the floor in Game 5 for the first time since March 11.
Smart finished with nine points, five rebounds and four assists over 25 minutes and helped the Celtics limit Giannis Antetokounmpo to just 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field.
“Smart’s return means a lot for our team,” Al Horford said following Game 5’s win. “I think I said it earlier in the year that he was kind of like the soul of our team. Just everything that he brings – his toughness, unselfishness, just a hard-nosed player, and we fed off his energy tonight.”
Giving Extended Minutes to Jabari Parker is Professional Malfeasance
Milwaukee is now 14-22 ATS in games in which Jabari Parker has played, including 6-16 ATS against .501 or greater opposition. Those results are not a coincidence in that the Bucks have been outscored by 3.8 points per 48 minutes with Parker on the floor this season.
My hope is that coach Prunty will continue to give Parker extended playing time (series-high 32 minutes in Game 5) despite the fact that he has scored 16+ points in three straight games.
Parker’s short-term variance doesn’t vitiate his overall performance (which was bad) this season. Grab the points with the Celtics in Game 6 as one of Oskeim’s free sports picks for Thursday, April 26.
Technician’s Corner: Higher seeds in the NBA playoffs are an incredible 20-4 ATS as road underdogs in Game 6 since 2014. Since 2005, small home favorites of five points or fewer in Games 6 and 7 of the NBA playoffs are 35-35 SU and 30-40 ATS.
Free Sports Picks for Thursday, April 26:
- Boston Celtics (+5) (-115) over Milwaukee Bucks
- Boston Celtics/Milwaukee Bucks UNDER 201 points
If you are looking for award-winning sports picks from the #1 Ranked Sports Handicapping Service in the industry, be sure to visit Oskeim’s Subscription Specials. Visit Oskeim’s Blog for more free sports picks in football, basketball and baseball. Oskeim’s free sports picks are a documented 55.4% since 2007!