Milwaukee Bucks on a Tear, Double-Digit Winning Streak in Jeopardy
The Milwaukee Bucks have a 10-game winning streak on the line Tuesday night when they host the Boston Celtics during a nationally televised game. The match features the two top teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Celtics have the best record in the NBA at 41-16, and the Bucks have the third-best record in the league at 39-17.
The Celtics hold a 1.5-game lead over the Bucks in the Eastern Conference standings. If the Bucks defeat the Celtics on Tuesday, they’ll extend their winning streak to 11 games in a row and pull within a half-game.
The Celtics won four games in a row, but they won’t have starting shooting guard Jaylen Brown in the lineup. Brown sustained a facial fracture because of an errant elbow last week from teammate Jayson Tatum.
The Celtics are the consensus favorite to win the 2022-23 NBA championship. DraftKings listed the Celtics at +310 odds to win the championship, followed by the Phoenix Suns at +450 and the Bucks at +600.
In the preseason, the Celtics were championship cofavorites with the Los Angeles Clippers at +600 odds. Aside from two weeks in early November, when the Bucks were brief title favorites at +550 odds, the Celtics have been the outright favorite to win the NBA championship this season.
Bucks and Celtics in Battle for #1 Seed
If the season ended today, the Celtics would earn the #1 playoff seed in the East, and the Bucks would get the #2 seed.
The Celtics and Bucks represent the last two teams to win the Eastern Conference. The Celtics were Eastern Conference Champions in the 2021-22 season, but they lost to the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals.
The Bucks were conference champions in 2020-21 and advanced to the 2021 NBA Finals. They defeated the Phoenix Suns to win their first championship in 50 years.
The Celtics are +130 odds to win the Eastern Conference in back-to-back seasons. The Bucks are +250 odds to win their second conference championship in the last three seasons.
FiveThirtyEight projects the Celtics have a 39% chance to reach the NBA Finals, and a 23% chance to win the championship. The Bucks have a 26% chance to advance to the NBA Finals, and a 14% chance to win a title.
The Bucks were eliminated from last year’s postseason by the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The series lasted seven games, and the Celtics came from behind to knock out the Bucks with a clutch road victory in Game 7 in Milwaukee.
The Bucks put up a good fight without starting small forward Khris Middleton, who suffered an MCL sprain in the first round. It took the Celtics seven games to beat the Bucks without Middleton, which is why fans believe the Bucks would have defeated the Celtics with a healthy Middleton in the lineup. After the Bucks lost Middleton, it cost them a chance at back-to-back conference titles and a chance to win consecutive NBA championships.
Bucks 7-3 ATS During Winning Streak
The Bucks are the betting favorite against the Celtics with a -9 point spread on Tuesday night. With a 31-22-3 against the spread (ATS) record, the Bucks are the second-best betting team in the NBA when covering the point spread. The Celtics have a 31-26 ATS record as the eighth-best betting team in the NBA this season.
During their current winning streak, the Bucks posted a 7-3 ATS record over their last 10 victories. The Bucks also won 12 out of their last 13 games, and went 16-4 over their previous 20 games, dating back to early January.
The Bucks average 114.6 points per game this season, ranking #13 overall. During their winning streak, they’ve been on a scoring binge with 123 or more points in six games. When the Bucks score 130 or more points in a single game this season, they’re undefeated at 6-0.
The Bucks rely on a strong defense that’s ranked #7 overall while allowing 111.6 points per game. They have the fourth-best perimeter defense in the league and allow opponents to connect on just 34.6% of their 3-point attempts. The Bucks don’t give up easy baskets and are ranked #2 in the NBA in opposing field goal percentage at 45.4%.
The Bucks began the season with a nine-game winning streak. If they can defeat the Celtics on Tuesday, and beat the Chicago Bulls on Thursday, then they’ll head into the All-Star Break with a 12-game winning streak.
Greek Freak vs. Tatum
The two best teams in the Eastern Conference square off on Tuesday night. But the Bucks/Celtics game also features two MVP candidates.
Bucks power forward Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo won the MVP in back-to-back seasons in 2018-19 and 2019-20, before Nikola Jokic from the Denver Nuggets won the prestigious award in the last two seasons. Jokic is the betting favorite at -170 odds to win a third-straight MVP. Antetokounmpo is third on DraftKings’ NBA awards board at +750 odds. Tatum is fifth overall at +1300 odds.
Antetokounmpo is the NBA’s leading rebounder and third-best scorer. He averages 32.4 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game. In five games in February, Antetokounmpo averages 37.2 points and 13.0 rebounds per game. He scored 33 or more points in eight out of his last nine games, including two 50-point games.
The Bucks are 13-1 with Antetokounmpo in the lineup since the start of January.
Tatum, the starting small forward for the Celtics, averages 30.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game this season. He’s posting career highs in all three major categories.
Tatum dropped a game-high 41 points in a victory against the Bucks on Christmas in their only meeting of the season.