Boston Celtics (31-22) at Milwaukee Bucks (20-32)
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #54, Road Game #28
TV: CSN-NE, FSNWI, NBA-LP 752(DTV)/753(xfinity)
Radio: 100.7 WZLX, WTMJ 620AM, Sirius 213
BMO Harris Bradley Center
Referees: Danny Crawford, Brent Barnaky, Curtis Blair
The Celtics travel to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks for the second of 4 meetings this season. The Celtics won the first meeting in Milwaukee 99-83 in November. They will meet two more times in Boston on February 25 and April 8. The Celtics have won the last 2 games played in Milwaukee and 7 of the last 10 games there.
The Celtics have won 4 straight games and are looking for their second 5 game win streak of the season. The Bucks have lost their last 5 games. The Celtics are 9-1 in their last 10 while the Bucks are 3-7 in their last 10. The Bucks are a decent home team with a 13-8 record. The Celtics are 15-12 on the road.
The Bucks should be well rested since they last played on Friday in an 84-81 loss to the Jazz, which ended a 3 game road trip for them. The Celtics are coming off a 128-119 win over the Kings on Sunday afternoon. They are playing the front end of yet another back to back set, hosting the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. The Celtics are 6-6 in the first of back to back games and 5-3 when the first game is on the road.
The Bucks have been dealing with some injuries but expect Jerryd Bayless (knee) and OJ Mayo (hamstring) back for this game. Both are listed as probable. John Henson (back) is doubtful to return while Greivis Vasquez (ankle) is out. Damien Inglis has been playing with the Bucks' D-League affiliate.
The Celtics are pretty much at full strength. Jae Crowder has been playing through assorted bumps and bruises including a high ankle sprain that would keep most players out for a few weeks. He is, however, expected to play in this game, especially since he will be returning to the court where he played his college ball for Marquette. He averaged 17.5 points and 8.4 rebounds his senior year when he was named Big East Player of the Year. He will probably still have more than a few fans in the stands.
The Bucks were one of the teams that was expected to make big strides and contend for the playoffs this season with their young and talented roster. For some reason, they have struggled thus far and are 13th in the East, 7 games out of playoff position. The Celtics are firmly in 3rd, 1.5 games ahead of Atlanta and Miami. They are 5 games behind the Raptors who are sitting in the second spot.
PG SG SF
Isaiah Thomas...Avery Bradley...Jae Crowder...Amir Johnson...Jared Sullinger
Jordan Mickey (ankle) out
PG SG SF
Michael Carter-Williams...Khris Middleton...Giannis Antetokounmpo...Jabari Parker...Greg Monroe
Jerryd Bayless (knee) probable
OJ Mayo (hamstring) probable
John Henson (back) out
Greivis Vasquez (ankle) out
Jae Crowder vs Giannis Antetokounmpo
Antetokounmpo, aka the Greek Freak, is like no other small forward in the league. He is 6'11" tall and very athletic. He is averaging 15.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 blocks per game and will be a challenge for Jae to have to deal with on both ends of the court, especially if Jae is still dealing with the lingering injuries.
Jared Sullinger vs Greg Monroe
Monroe was rumored to be considering the Celtics this summer, but he instead chose the Bucks and is playing well for them. He is averaging 16.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 0.9 blocks. In the first meeting this season, Monroe led the Bucks in both points (17) and rebounds (14). Sully is coming off a strong game against DeMarcus Cousins and hopefully will build on that against Monroe, who can be a handful to defend.
Avery Bradley vs Khris Middleton
Middleton is a candidate for most improved this season. He is averaging 17.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists and is shooting 40.9% from beyond the arc. He has been invited to participate in the 3 point contest on All Star weekend. Avery will need to stay with him on defense, especially on the perimeter because if he is left open, he will make them pay.
Evan Turner vs Jerryd Bayless
Bayless seems to always have a big game against the Celtics, even before he played for the team. He is averaging 10.5 points, 3.5 assists, and 2.7 rebounds off the bench for Milwaukee but seems to give a little extra effort against the Celtics. Evan has been a strong presence off the bench for the Celtics, and hopefully that will continue in this game.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is always a key to winning. The Celtics' tough defense has helped them on their recent hot streak. They let up against the Kings, allowing 119 points, but they can't depend on scoring 128 points in many games. The Celtics need to get back to what got them here, and that is tough team defense. The Bucks average 97.8 points and allow 102.9, while the Celtics average 105.0 points and allow 100.7. The Celtics are 23-2 when allowing 98 points or less, so it's clear that defense needs to be their top priority. The Celtics especially need to defend the paint, as the Bucks are 2nd in the league in scoring in the paint.
Run! - The Celtics are very effective when they run on every possession and run on defense as well. They need to run on offense to get easy shots before the defenses get set up. They also need to run on defense to get set up to prevent the Bucks from getting easy baskets. The Celtics have to utilize their depth by running the other team off the court.
Take Care of the Ball - The Bucks are very long and athletic. The Celtics need to make careful passes and take care not to allow the Bucks to force turnovers. This also includes hitting their shots and making the extra pass to find the open man. They can't play hero ball as that never ends well.
Rebound - The Celtics can't score if they don't have the ball. The Bucks are long and athletic and so the Celtics are going to have to work to win the battle of the boards. It takes effort to rebound and when the Celtics put out that extra effort to get rebounds, it usually translates to other areas of their game.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics have to be the more aggressive team from start to finish. They have to be aggressive in going after loose balls, on defense, in going to the basket, and in grabbing rebounds. The more aggressive team usually gets the benefit of the calls, also. They need to be the team that wants it more for all 48 minutes. No let up.
On the Road - The Celtics are on the road once again. They have have played well enough on the road to have a 15-12 record. They need to focus on getting the win, playing as a team, and blocking out all of the distractions that come with playing in a hostile environment.
Officiating - The officiating is always an x-factor. Whether because of the tendencies of individual refs or an agenda on behalf of the refs or the league, each game is officiated differently, and that can favor or throw a team off on any given night. The Celtics have to be able to shake off bad calls and just play their game.
Entering his 31st NBA season, Dan Crawford has officiated 1,926 regular season and 265 Playoff games, including 30 NBA Finals games. During his NBA tenure, Crawford has officiated the 1994 and 2001 NBA All-Star Games, and the 1992 Japan Games in Yokohama. Prior to joining the NBA, Crawford spent four years officiating in the CBA. He has eight years of collegiate officiating experience in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conferences, and he officiated the 1983 and 1984 National Junior College Nationals.
After one of the Celtics playoff games in Chicago in round 1 in 2008, there was some controversy when he was seen leaving the arena with his family all decked out in Chicago Bulls gear. He was in the news last season because he was accused of having a bias against Marc Cuban because the Mavs were 2-16 in games officiated by Crawford, and Cuban was very vocal about it.
In the last regular season game that he called for the Celtics last season, the Celtics shot 34 free throws to 10 for the Pistons and most of the questionable calls went the Celtics way. In the loss this season at home to the Spurs, he allowed the Spurs to get away with a lot of pushing, grabbing, and hacking while they called the same things on the Celtics. At the half, the fouls were 14-3 in the Spurs favor. In spite of the Celtics being aggressive in going to the basket (Celtics 52 points in the paint to 38 for the Spurs), the Spurs shot 25 free throws for the game to 14 for the Celtics. In the game against Charlotte this season the officiating was excellent and they allowed both teams to play. Both teams shot only 10 free throws and the officiating was even. So, who knows what we will get in this game. The Celtics are 1-2 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Crawford on the court while the Bucks are 2-2 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 with Crawford. His home win/loss record this season is 23-18.
Brent Barnaky enters his sixth NBA season having officiated 271 NBA games. Barnaky came to the NBA with 10 years of collegiate officiating experience in the Southeastern Conference, Big East, Conference USA and other college conferences as well. He completed three years of postseason officiating in the NIT (2008-2010). He officiated the 2008, 2009 and 2010 NBA D-League Playoffs, and the 2009 and 2010 NBA D-League Finals.
As with many of the refs, Barnaky can be good or very bad. The Celtics have had a couple of memorable games with Barnaky in the past. In a loss to the Pistons three seasons ago that Tommy Heinsohn called the worst officiated game all season, Rondo was ejected and the Pistons shot 46 free throws to 15 for the Celtics. In a game vs the Bucks last season, he allowed the Bucks to mug the Celtics all game and called ticky tack fouls on the Celtics, but when the Celtics tried to commit an intentional foul to stop the clock, the refs wouldn't call it. He called the win at home vs the Wizards this season, and the game was called evenly. He also called the game vs Charlotte this season, and the officiating was very good. They let both teams play and called it evenly. The Celtics are 2-1 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Barnaby, while the Bucks are 1-2 this season and 3-7 in their last 10. His home W/L record is 20-22.
Curtis Blair is entering his ninth NBA season having officiated 383 regular season games. Blair has six seasons of NBA D-League experience and worked the 2008 NBA D-League Finals. He also officiated in several college conferences, including the Atlantic 10, Atlantic Coast Conference and the CAA. He was drafted by the Houston Rockets in 1992 and played professionally in Australia, Austria and Turkey.
Like most refs, Blair has been good and bad in previous Celtics games. He called the Clippers game with Goble two seasons ago that very much favored the Clippers. In his final game with the Celtics last season against OKC, the game was called fairly in the first half, but in the third quarter, OKC took 15 free throws to 4 for the Celtics with many bad calls going in favor of the Thunder. The 4th was again called fairly evenly, but with every ticky tack foul called, there was no flow to the game. This season, he called the Bulls game, and in that game they let them play and the officiating was good. Blair calls an average of 45.2 fouls per game with 51.5% of those being called on the road team. The Celtics are 3-0 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Blair, while the Bucks are 1-0 this season and 5-5 in their last 10. His home W/L record is 21-14.
Celtics begin final back to back set before the All Star break with a visit to the Milwaukee Bucks.