As we are slowly edging towards the NBA Playoffs, the battle lines are staring to be drawn in both conferences. Tonight’s battle between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics at TD Garden will indicate a lot. Are the Celtics truly ready to reign supreme ove the entire Eastern Conference? Or do the Bucks have a real shot at the Finals, especially considering how different the Playoffs are compared to the regular season? If Milwaukee manages to clinch the 2 seed in the East – with Boston all but ensuredf of finishing top – these two teams may well encounter each other at the Conference Finals stage for an exhilerating matchup. However, Giannis and company will have to fend off challenges from the Cavaliers and Knicks – and potentially Magic – who are all hitting form at the right time, for the coveted second spot.

The Celtics are on a six game winning streak – following the disappointing loss away at the Denver Nuggets after the league resumed post All-Star break. They now have a relatively easy schedule to finish off the regual season, inclduing two games versus the Hawks, Pistons and Hornets, along with one against the Wizards abd a coiuple tough games against the Pelicans, Bucks and Knicks. While Tatum has his a slight slump since the break, Jaylen Brown has risen to the occasion and is averaging 32 points in his last six played games. The Celtics haver effectively clinched top spot in the East, now ten games ahead of the Bucks, but will want to keep momentum going into the Playoffs.

On the flip side the Bucks have been steadily improving after coach Rivers’s arrival and a rough start which saw them drop momentarily down to the 4th seed. Since the All-Star break, they’ve only lost three of their twelve games – interestingly all in California against the Lakers, Kings and Warriors. They face a tough last set of matches, including two games against Boston, OKC and Orlando, as well as matches against the Lakers, Pelicans and Knicks. The added issue of Giannis being sidelined (presumably for not much longer) could present them with some complications regarding retaining second place. However, with Antetokounmpo out, Lillard has stepped up and flourished, dropping a few 40-point games to remind everyone of how skilled and clutch a player he can be. They will need every bit of his talent in the post-season if they are to challenge Boston for a place in the Finals.

Withgout Giannis and away at Boston, it would be rash of me to not have the Celtics as pretty considerable favorites in this game. However, count out Milwaukee at your peril. With Dame in this form, the return of Middleton from injury and a dominant Bobby Portis off the bench, they could sneak a win at TD Garden. I suggest going with the Over 224.5 at 1.90, as this could become a shooting fest from the 3-point line. Ultimately, I beleive Boston will come put on top however. If the Bucks manage to win by any chance – especially without Giannis – they will position themselves as real threts to Boston in the Playoffs.

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