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Celtics Visit Bogut-less Bucks

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Boston Celtics (49-30) at Milwaukee Bucks (45-34)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

8:30pm

TV: Comcast SportsNet; Radio: WEEI

Venue: The Bradley Center

The Boston Celtics travel to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks in a potential first-round playoff matchup.

In case you missed it (I won't provide the video), the Bucks lost Andrew Bogut's services for the season back on April 3 against the Phoenix Suns. Bogut went up for a fastbreak dunk, slammed the ball home, but came off the rim awkwardly, landing harshly on his right arm.

Tonight's game holds a semi-interesting twist though, seeing as the Celtics can actually get a feel for how the Bucks play without Bogut serving as one of their primary options on offense. They certainly haven't slowed in the wake of Bogut's absence, as they've won three straight games since he's gone down. Granted, those wins have come over Philadelphia, Chicago, and New Jersey. However, even without Bogut, the Bucks have plenty of talent with guys like Brandon Jennings, John Salmons, and Carlos Delfino, along with a very respectable guy at the helm in Scott Skiles.

So what will be different about these Bucks? Will Jennings have the green light to fire away whenever? Knowing Skiles, probably not. Will Salmons find himself in more ISO situations? Will they adopt a run-and-gun style or stick with Skiles's defensive-driven schemes?

Things obviously get easier for Kendrick Perkins with Bogut being out, but Kurt Thomas, Bogut's replacement, is a veteran bruiser with a nose for the glass. Perk's job, especially if these two teams meet in the playoffs, might not be as easy as some might expect.

Projected Starters:

Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Bucks: Brandon Jennings, John Salmons, Luc Mbah a Moute, Carlos Delfino, Kurt Thomas

Keys to the Game:

Normally I'd suggest the basic defense and rebounding here, but this team is tougher to read than the dictionary in a room with no light. If they have indeed mailed it in for the rest of the regular season, should we hold our expectations very high? I mean, most of us expected a win against the Wizards last night and look how well that worked out for us. If they know internally that they're just going through the standard motions before the playoffs, then we're basically going to be stuck with three more games of "ugh".

But you know what? It wouldn't surprise me in the least bit if this group came out and dominated the Bucks tonight. After all, remember what happened the last time these two played? The Bucks won, 86-84, Bogut destroyed Perkins and Jennings was talking an awful lot of smack to KG, even after the game was over. But, let's be honest, I'm sure KG didn't take that talk lying down. So, in that regard, there could be some carry over, and maybe, just maybe, after the swarm of boos enveloped the Garden last night (except for me and the two 6-year olds behind me. We were by far the most dedicated and optimistic people in the building. And we got the kids on the jumbotron towards the end of the game. That became our goal when it was apparent the Celtics were not going to win.), the Celtics will take the floor, play hard, and win the way they're supposed to.