NBA on TNT picks: Celtics vs. Bucks and Nuggets vs. Warriors

Profile Picture: Ryan Murphy

January 16th, 2020

The East's top two teams will be in action Thursday night, as the Bucks host the Celtics in Milwaukee. Meanwhile, over in the Western Conference, the Nuggets will try to fatten their record when they take on the reeling Warriors in San Francisco. We have odds and picks for both marquee matchups below.

Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks, 8 p.m. ET

Boston Celtics
O 223.5
Milwaukee Bucks
U 223.5
Is it possible for a 70-win team to fly under the radar? If so, that precisely what's happening in Milwaukee, where the NBA-leading Bucks are receiving a criminal lack of attention despite being on pace to shatter franchise records for most wins in a season.

Unlike some so-called contenders, Coach Bud's crew doesn't just do one thing well, they do everything well. The Bucks rank in the top three league-wide in offensive rating, defensive rating, points, pace, and true shooting percentage, and have only lost three games since Nov. 10. That's a nearly unprecedented level of dominance, and yet few people outside of the Midwest seem to fully appreciate just how special this team truly is.
One thing everyone can agree upon is the sheer excellent of Giannis Antetokounmpo. The reigning MVP is posting career highs in points and rebounds and has finally developed a reliable three-point stroke after years of living in the paint. Antetokounmpo won't be mistaken for Steph Curry anytime soon, but his ability to nail 33% of his treys has done wonders for Milwaukee's spacing.

Milwaukee will face a formidable foe tonight when they take on the Celtics for the second time this season. Boston won their first matchup back on Oct. 30, 116-105, behind a game-high 32 points from Kemba Walker. The three-time All-Star was one of five Celtics to score in double figures as Boston shot 41.5% from deep and harassed Milwaukee into committing 15 turnovers.

As impressive as that victory may have been, the Celtics are still a tier below the Bucks. Boston has lost four of its last six games and is coming off a shameful 116-103 letdown against the Pistons on Wednesday night. Kemba and Co. will have their moments, but tonight will belong to the Bucks.

NBA free pick: Bucks moneyline 

Denver Nuggets at Golden State Warriors, 10:30 p.m. ET

Denver Nuggets
O 210.5
Golden State Warriors
U 210.5
How the mighty have fallen. A year ago at this time, the Warriors were 30-14 and well on their way to appearing in their fifth straight NBA Finals. Today, they're 9-33 and destined for the NBA Lottery. Golden State's regression is hardly surprising given critical injuries to Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, but it's been a depressing development just the same for fans in the Bay Area.

Golden State's flaws have been especially apparent lately. After showing some signs of life in late December, the Warriors have folded like a cheap deck chair in January. Steve Kerr's squad is currently mired in a nine-game losing streak and is coming off an embarrassing 124-97 defeat to the Mavericks in which they coughed up 14 turnovers and were out-rebounded 62-44.
Just how bad are the Warriors? They currently rank dead last in offensive rating and have the second worst true shooting percentage in the NBA. Compare that to a year ago, when they ranked first in both categories, and you can see just how much they've bottomed out.

Things are far sunnier in Denver, where the Nuggets are 28-12 and second in the crowded Western Conference. Michael Malone's men looked especially sharp on Sunday as they handed the Clippers a 114-104 loss. Denver was led, as usual, by All-Star center Nikola Jokic, who stuffed the stat sheet with 20 points, 15 boards and six assists in just 31 minutes.

Many pundits had concerns over Jokic's play following a sluggish start to the season, but the Serbian big man appears to have found a new gear since the calendar turned to 2020. Jokic is averaging 25.8 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists in January and is back to being one of the game's most versatile performers. Golden State will have its hands full trying to slow him down tonight.

The Nuggets should have this one wrapped up by midway through the third quarter.

NBA free pick: Nuggets moneyline and -5 spread

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