With two games in the books, the 2020-21 NBA season is officially underway. And now, we’ve got the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics squaring off at TD Garden on the second night of the year, which will feature a total of 13 games on the slate, a dream for those die-hard fans.
Milwaukee retooled after falling short against Miami in the second round of the 2020 playoffs. They traded for Jrue Holiday and added several savvy veteran players to bolster the second unit. With players like Bobby Portis, D.J. Augustin, and Torrey Craig, the Bucks are singularly focused on an NBA Championship.
For Boston, they are a bit short-handed. Kemba Walker is missing the start of the year with a knee injury, so rookie Payton Pritchard might be immediately thrust into the rotation. The Celtics lost Enes Kanter in a trade with Portland and Memphis, and Brad Wanamaker, who signed as a free agent with Golden State. Both logged significant minutes during the trip to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. It’s safe to say that while they have some serious star power, Boston’s depth isn’t where it used to be.
The spread favors the visiting Bucks by 3.5 points. The over/under is set at 225.5. Tip-off is at 7:30 P.M. Eastern on TNT.
Milwaukee Looks for Quick 1-0 Start
Coming off the 4-1 series loss to Miami, the Bucks will hope to forget it fast and find their way to the NBA Finals. Two seasons ago, the Bucks advanced in the playoffs for the first time in nearly two full decades. They did it again last season but bowed out before most of us expected them to.
With a two-time reigning MVP on your roster, high expectations are a given. Giannis Antetokounmpo signed his super-max extension, keeping him in Milwaukee for the next six seasons. The Bucks will always compete for the title as long as Giannis stays in Milwaukee.
Holiday should help take some of the pressure off Giannis. He has averaged more than 19 points per game each of the last three seasons and averages nearly seven assists per game. Chasing a championship of his own, Holiday should be a strong contributor as Milwaukee goes all-in on a title run.
Celtics Looking to Start Strong
Last season was a success by most measures for Celtics fans. They overcame the defending champion Raptors to advance to the conference finals. They took the Heat to six games, and their star players looked like they belonged on the big stage. So, where do they stand now?
Boston’s most significant offseason move was signing Jayson Tatum to a five-year, $195 million max extension. Tatum averaged 23.4 points per game last season, along with seven rebounds and three assists per game. The 22-year-old is an emerging star, and after being named an All Star last year, he’ll be looking to build on that success this season.
However, Tatum’s contract complicated another situation for Boston. Keeping all the talent on-roster means the Celtics are deep into the luxury tax. Unfortunately, that meant Boston could not retain Gordon Hayward, who was sent to the Charlotte Hornets as part of a sign-and-trade deal.
The Bucks’ march to the Conference Finals starts Wednesday night. I’m taking Milwaukee to come out of the gates firing against a short-handed Boston squad and put their first game in the Win column.