Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics Player Prop Pick: Fade Marcus Smart and the Short-Handed Celtics

Player prop expert Gray Gutfreund has his top NBA bet for Thursday's slate. He's eyeing Boston Celtic guard Marcus Smart.
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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics Player Prop Pick: Fade Marcus Smart and the Short-Handed Celtics

The Boston Celtics are visiting the Milwaukee Bucks this evening, where the Bucks enter tonight's contest as 8-point home favorites. This is largely due to Boston resting some of its key contributors. The C's will be without Jayson Tatum and Al Horford in Milwaukee, while Robert Williams remains sidelined with a knee injury.

On top of my initial reasoning for liking a Marcus Smart under in this one, the potential blowout in this game makes me feel even better.

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Marcus Smart Under 7.5 Assists (-120) (Bet $120 to win $100)

*Odds Available at Caesar's at Time of Publishing*

Marcus Smart has enjoyed the best playmaking season of his 8-year career thus far. However, this line is just too high. Despite holding an average of 7.2 assists per game since the All-Star break, he's only notched at least 8 assists in 7 of these 19 games.

On the season as a whole, Smart is averaging just 5.9 APG. He's also remained under this line in 53/69 games, good for a 76.8% hit rate on this prop. The Oklahoma State product has also remained under the 7.5 mark in two of three games against Milwaukee this season.

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You may be concerned about an increased reliance on Smart's playmaking from the team since Tatum isn't suiting up tonight. But, that hasn't shown true in his three games without the young superstar this season. Smart has averaged just 4.7 assists on 10.3 potential assists without Tatum this season. The veteran guard even played 41 minutes per game across these contests, a number he surely won't approach tonight. And, his assist numbers without Tatum aren't even an improvement from his averages of 5.9 AST on 10.2 potential AST with Tatum.

This isn't a new theme for Smart. He's become a good playmaker, but he's never been a great playmaker that would warrant a 7.5 assist over/under. In 7 games without Tatum last season, Smart posted 8+ assists just once. He averaged just 5.0 APG in these games, a step down from his 5.8 APG with Tatum in the lineup.

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The perennial All-Defensive team selection's playmaking isn't even very sustainable. Smart's 7.1 APG over his last 15 games has come on only 10.8 potential assists per game. This 66% conversion rate on feeds from Smart is a significant step up from his season-long mark of 57.8%.

Expect the 6'4" guard to split much of Boston's playmaking load with Derrick White and Jaylen Brown, as he likely won't see a big enough slice of the pie to hit this over. And, we also get the benefit of the solid chance that Smart doesn't see much action late in this game if Milwaukee takes a sizeable lead.

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Gray is a massive New York sports fan, and is an NBA & NFL oracle. He’s a passionate writer with a strong background in statistics, and loves putting out player props! You can follow him on Twitter @PropBetGuru.

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