Celtics fit for betting if they can stop Greek Freak

May 3, 2019 12:50 AM

Friday night, the Boston Celtics will be getting a lot of attention from sports bettors across the country because they fit into a couple of classic “situational” spots.

  • This is a “first home” game for the series underdog, which traditionally means loud crowd reactions and peak effort from the host.
  • This is a “bounce back” spot off a bad loss. Boston was blown out Tuesday night when Milwaukee was the team needing to bounce back. That was a 123-102 debacle where the Celtics let Milwaukee make 20 three-pointers while also losing “hustle” stats involving rebounds and turnovers. 

Those factors help explain why an opening line of Boston -1.5 was bet up to -2 right out of the gate. And, that opener already represented a nine-point move from Game 2s closer of Milwaukee -7.5. Home court advantage is typically worth about three to 3.5 points in the NBA. That would mean a site-switch adjustment of six to seven points. Oddsmakers know that home court is worth more in a Game 3. 

It’s worth noting though that Game 3 hosts have mostly struggled so far in the 2019 playoffs. The bottom half of the Eastern brackets was very weak. None of Indiana, Detroit, Brooklyn, nor Orlando could score straight up victories. Only Orlando covered the spread, and that was in a 5-point loss at plus 5.5. 

Out West, Utah and the Los Angeles Clippers failed to perform to this angle’s history. Oklahoma City did with a 120-108 victory in its only win of the Portland series. And, San Antonio beat Denver 118-100 to take a temporary series lead in what turned out to be a seven-game elimination. 

Is Boston going to rise to the occasion? Or, will it be outclassed by an awakened Giannis Antetokounmpo? Stopping him is an obvious key. Boston (led by Al Horford) held “The Greek Freak” to 7 of 21 shooting and just 22 points in the series opener. He was a more relevant 7 of 16 shooting with 29 points in the bounce back, thanks to a 13 of 18 night from the free throw line. 

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