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This week in the NBA: Celtics struggle to contain Bucks firepower

Drew Goodsell | 7 May 2019

Odds and review of the NBA action

We’re in the midst of the conference semi-final battles, and here of the four ties remain evenly poised heading into the final three games.

There looks to be no slowing down the Milwaukee Bucks express train as they’ve taken a commanding 3-1 lead over the Boston Celtics.

In the West, there’s no splitting Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets, with Philadelphia 7ers and Toronto Raptors tied up in the East.

With four games down in each matchup already, it’s bound to be a busy and huge week ahead. But before that, we look back at the week that was in the NBA…

Winners

Milwaukee Bucks

They’re a franchise on the rise and showing no signs of stopping at the moment.

In their first conference semi-finals since the 2000/01 season, where they narrowly lost out to an Allen Iverson-led Philadelphia 76ers team in the conference finals, the Bucks needed to bounce back after losing game one against the Celtics.

They’ve done more than bounce back. The Bucks have won three on the bounce and have one foot in the conference finals, led by the Greek Freak, but firmly backed up by the bench options.

After foul trouble for Giannis Antetokounmpo in the third quarter of game four, he was limited to a bench role with his side holding a one point lead.  He returned in the fourth, where the lead had jumped to eight points thanks to veterans George Hill and Pat Connaughton.

Giannis said: “Our reserves have done a great job all series. They’ve been the difference-maker in this series so it’s great to have guys that can step up like that from the bench.”

James Harden

With the Houston Rockets side going 2-0 down against Golden State, it all looked to be one-way traffic with no route back for the Rockets and their playoff dream.

Step forward James Harden.

The Beard took hold of games three and four to inspire the Rockets to an incredible fightback, including an overtime victory in game three to keep up their fight and prevent a 3-0 deficit.

41 points in game three, followed by 38 in game four have clawed back the Texan side’s hopes, but there are two tricky road games at the Oracle Arena in this coming week. Lose those, and they’ll have to wait another year for another crack at the NBA championship.

Losers

Stephen Curry

James Harden Houston Rockets Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors

Can two-time MVP Stephen Curry lead the Warriors to their fifth-successive NBA Finals?

Maybe we’re too used to seeing Steph Curry doing extraordinary things, but he’s just not reached the usual highs that we expect from him.

One of the best sharpshooters the NBA has ever seen hasn’t shone like usual in the matchup against the Rockets, and it’s started to affect the team too.

The Warriors were looking comfortable after two games, sitting with a 2-0 series lead and although both games finished in tight wins, they were always in control of the games.

A 30-point showing in game four for Curry has seen form pick up a bit, but his shooting stats still left a lot to be desired. He ended up shooting 48% from the field, making 12 of his 15 attempts. Pair that with his four made three-point shots from 14 attempts, just 28%, and it’s still not good enough for a player of his exceptional quality.

Over the first three games, Curry averaged 18 points a night, but still only managed a high of 41% shot conversion from the floor.

Warriors should count themselves lucky they’ve had Kevin Durant to bail them out, especially during games one and two. Otherwise, we’d have been looking at a 4-0 Rockets sweep.

Boston Celtics

A dominant performance from the Celts in game one left everyone thinking that Boston were going to pull it out of the bag again.

Fast forward a week and they’re on the brink of elimination, losing the next three to the Bucks and struggling to contain the heat from the Giannis, Khris Middleton and the rest of the Milwaukee roster.

Kyrie Irving has been one glimmer of hope for the Celtics, with the guard averaging little over 20 points a game in those three defeats. But on the defensive end, the Boston team have lacked a cutting edge.

They’ve fallen short on rebounds, blocks and turnovers in comparison to the Bucks outfit, who under Coach Mike Budenholzer have matured at both ends of the floor, and are looking to be the side most hungry to claim the Larry O’Brien trophy in the NBA Finals.

Upcoming games

Philadelphia 76ers @ Toronto Raptors – Sixers to win on the spread +6.0 – 10/11

Portland Trail Blazers @ Denver Nuggets – Trail Blazers to win – 15/8

Boston Celtics @ Milwaukee Bucks – Bucks to win on the money line – 1/5

Houston Rockets @ Golden State Warriors – Over +218.5 points – 10/11

View the latest NBA odds at Coral.

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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.