Friday, December 14
7:30 PM ET
TD BankNorth Garden
Milwaukee won seven of its first 10 games this season, but has won just two of 11 ever since. This team is a lot different than it was the last time the C’s faced off against them. First off, Charlie Villanueva has recovered from the shoulder surgery he underwent this past March and is looking to build himself back up. However, there is a bit of a roadblock to that journey, as rookie Yi Jianlian (who the Celtics reportedly would have picked, had they elected to hold onto that #5 pick this past June) has not only stolen his starting spot, but has taken a good chunk of his minutes away. Villanueva is currently playing approximately 10 minutes per game fewer than he did in his 2005-2006 rookie campaign with the Toronto Raptors. He is also putting up career-lows in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and free throw percentage. The former seventh overall pick better make some adjustment, ASAP.
Speaking of players returning from injury, the Bucks are also happy to welcome swingman Bobby Simmons back to the family. After scoring over 13 points per game and shooting over 42% from beyond the arc in his initial season with Milwaukee in 2005-2006, he was forced to sit out the entire 2006-2007 season in order to successfully recover from ankle surgery. Simmons has taken a back-seat to Desmond Mason in the starting lineup, but has accepted his new role, playing 21.1 minutes per game off the bench. His shooting percentages are way down this season, but he’s certainly not a guy you can sleep on. With a career 40% three-point clip, you know he’s deadly when he catches fire.
There’s another dead-eye shooter in Milwaukee, as well. He goes by the name of Michael Redd, and he’s unanimously one of the top shooters in the NBA. We always knew he could shoot and score the basketball, but he has also seemed to add to his all-around repertoire, putting up career highs in rebounding (5.5 RPG) and assists (3.6 APG) to go along with his 24.1 points per contest. Bucks fans have also been relatively pleased with his improvements on the defensive end. If he truly has added all these different things to his game, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with for quite some time.
The Milwaukee Bucks may not be much of a threat to the Celtics or Celtics fans, but they certainly are a team that can do some damage when they are hot. Hey, look at it this way – this time, the Celtics and Bucks will be playing for a win, not a lottery ball.
C Andrew Bogut / Kendrick Perkins
PF Yi Jianlian / Kevin Garnett
SF Desmond Mason / Paul Pierce
SG Michael Redd / Ray Allen
PG Mo Williams / Rajon Rondo
Key Matchup: Michael Redd vs. Ray Allen
These guys are two of the best shooters in the game, and wreak havoc with their quick, effortless releases. Both are killers if they are left wide open, but have also been known to get it done in the clutch when their team needs a big bucket. Allen may be more complete as an all-around player, but if he’s not careful, Michael Redd can and will scorch him.
Celtics X-Factor: Glen Davis
As long as Perk is out of the lineup, "Big Baby" is going to have to step up on a consistent basis. Heck, even when Perk returns, we need Davis to contribute consistently. The early second round pick put up 16 points and nine rebounds on Wednesday in his first career start, and had an outstanding second half after he shook off the "oh my God I’m starting" jitters. If the C’s get another night like that out of Davis, especially against a relatively soft front court like Milwaukee’s, they should be in pretty good shape.
MIL – David Noel (recovering from right wrist surgery)
MIL – Michael Ruffin (broken left wrist)
BOS – Kendrick Perkins (sore foot)
BOS – Scot Pollard (sore back)
BOS – Brandon Wallace (sprained right wrist)
Celtics Keys to the Game
- Muscle the Marshmallow Men
- Perimeter Defense
- Ball Movement
- Consistent Energy
- Limit Turnovers