The Boston Celtics won’t have Kyrie Irving or Marcus Smart when they open the 2018 NBA Playoffs at 1 p.m. ET Sunday, but they’re still favored to get past Milwaukee and the “Greek Freak,” Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Sportsbooks list Boston as a 4-point home favorite in Game 1, up a half-point from the opener. The over-under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, has plunged from 205 to 201.5
Before you bet this game, you need to read what SportsLine hoops expert Larry Hartstein, who’s nailed 14 of his last 19 picks involving the Bucks, has to say.
On Wednesday, the final day of the regular season, Hartstein faded the Bucks as 6.5-point underdogs at Philly, noting Milwaukee actually would benefit by losing, thus avoiding Cleveland in the first round. The result: the Bucks lost by 35, the easiest cash you’ll ever see.
Hartstein, who has a strong analytical background, has now examined every matchup, every player and every trend for Bucks-Celtics and locked in his pick. We can tell you he’s expecting a low-scoring affair and leaning Under, but what about the spread, which he’s excelled picking?
He knows that if the seventh-seeded Bucks expect to win — or at least cover the spread — they’ll need a huge performance from Antetokounmpo. He averaged 33.5 points against Boston as the teams split four regular-season meetings.
The Celtics will cover if Terry Rozier (10-of-38 shooting in his last four games) plays like he did earlier in the season, Al Horford takes the pressure off Boston’s youngsters and Brad Stevens finds a way to slow down the Greek Freak. Boston has covered four of the past five meetings, and enters the playoffs on a 5-1 ATS run at TD Garden.
Hartstein has his pulse on the Bucks. He says there’s one overlooked angle that will decide the point-spread winner.
So what side of Milwaukee-Boston do you need to be all over on Wednesday? Visit SportsLine now to see the strong point-spread pick by Hartstein, who’s 14-5 picking Bucks games, and find out.
CBS Sports Staff