Winners of three games in a row, the Boston Celtics will try to keep pace with the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat in the race for third place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference standings when they host the struggling Milwaukee Bucks on Friday as favorites on the betting lines at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
With the NBA regular season entering its final weekend, playoff seeding in the East is far from settled, particularly in the middle of the pack, where just 1 1/2 games separate third and sixth place in the standings.
Boston enters Friday night’s Bucks vs. Celtics betting matchup at TD Garden in fourth place, deadlocked with the Heat, one game up on the Charlotte Hornets and just a half-game back of the surging Hawks.
Both Miami and Atlanta gained ground on the idle Celtics on Thursday, with the Heat all but ending the Chicago Bulls’ playoff hopes with a 106-98 victory, while the Hawks tallied their 15th straight-up win in their past 20 games by topping the Toronto Raptors 95-87.
The Celtics hit the floor against Milwaukee at 7-2 SU in their past nine games but continue to disappoint at the sportsbooks, failing to cover in their past two and five of their past 16.
The Bucks arrive in Boston with just two SU wins in their past nine outings and are winless in five of their past six on the road, continuing a trend of futility that has haunted them all season.
Milwaukee’s nine SU road victories this season ranks among the worst in the NBA. However, its current 6-2 against-the-spread run has bolstered its ATS record on the road, which sits at 19-19.
A victory Friday is crucial for the Celtics, who travel to Atlanta to battle the Hawks on Saturday. Boston has dropped two in a row to the Hawks and five of its past seven overall. More importantly, the Celtics are winless in their past three visits to Atlanta, losing by an average of 12 points per game.
Things gets no easier when the Celtics return to TD Garden for their final two regular-season contests against the Hornets on Monday and the Heat on Wednesday.
The Celtics have emerged victorious in their past four against Charlotte and six of their past eight but have produced mixed results against Miami. Boston is 2-0 SU against the Heat this season, but just 6-9 SU in its past 15, 3-4 SU at home.
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas drives to the hoop against Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Carter-Williams during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports