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Celtics visit the slumping Bucks looking for 3rd straight win

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The Celtics travel to Milwaukee to face the Bucks for the first of 3 meetings this season. The Bucks are the final team in the East that the Celtics haven't played as yet this season.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

at
Boston Celtics (28-18) at Milwaukee Bucks (21-25)
Saturday, January 28,2017
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #47, Road Game #24
TV: CSN-NE, FSNWI, NBA-LP 754(DTV)/756(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WTMJ 620AM, Sirius 213
BMO Harris Bradley Center

Referees: Pat Fraher, Matt Boland, Marat Kogut

The Celtics travel to Milwaukee to face the Bucks for the first of 3 meetings this season. The Bucks are the last team in the East that the Celtics have yet to face. The Bucks are just 3-7 in their last 10 games while the Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10. The Celtics are 13-10 on the road while the Bucks are 13-11 at home.
The Bucks have lost 8 of their last 9 games. Their lone win was against the Rockets, who are also in somewhat of a slump. Over the last two weeks, the Bucks have lost to the Philadelphia 76ers without Joel Embiid, the Toronto Raptors without DeMar DeRozan, the Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat, among others. The Celtics have to be careful not to take this team too lightly because in spite of their losses, they are very capable of having a big game and beating any team in the league.

Both teams are playing on the second night of back to back games. The Celtics played at home against the Magic and had to travel after the game to get to Milwaukee. The Bucks faced the Raptors in Toronto and also had to travel after the game to get back home to take on the Celtics. The Celtics are 7-3 on the second night of back to back games while the Bucks are 2-7 on the second night of back to back games.

Al Horford missed the game against the Magic with tightness in his groin but he traveled to Milwaukee with the team and will be a game time decision for this game. Avery Bradley is still out with the Achilles injury but is making progress toward a return. Khris Middleton is out for the Bucks with a hamstring injury.


Jaylen Brown and Jonas Jerebko have started the last two games for the Celtics and the team has responded well with that starting lineup. If Al Horford returns for this game, I wouldn't be surprised to see him start at center in place of Amir Johnson and for Jonas and Jaylen to both remain in the starting lineup. Starting Jaylen in Avery's place allows Marcus to remain with the second unit and add stability to that group and Jonas has played very well in the starting role.




Probable Starters
PG SG SF
PFC
Isaiah Thomas...Jaylen Brown...Jae Crowder...Jonas Jerebko...Amir Johnson

Celtics Reserves
Marcus Smart
Terry Rozier
James Young
Tyler Zeller
Jordan Mickey
Kelly Olynyk
Gerald Green

Injuries
Al Horford (groin) questionable
Avery Bradley (Achilles) out
Demetrius Jackson (Red Claws) out

Head Coach
Brad Stevens



Probable Starters
PG SG SF
PF C
Matthew Dellavedova...Tony Snell...Giannis Antetokounmpo...Jabari Parker...Miles Plumlee

Bucks Reserves
Michael Beasley
Malcolm Brogdon
John Henson
Thon Maker
Greg Monroe
Steve Novak
Mirza Teletovic
Jason Terry
Rashad Vaughn

Injuries

Khris Middleton (hamstring) out

Head Coach

Jason Kidd

Key Matchups
vs
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 23.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 5.4 assists. It's an understatement to say that it is key to slow Antetokounmpo down. He leads his team in minutes, points, FG%, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. It will be a challenge for Jae to have to deal with him on both ends of the court. Just an observation, but the Celtics made a trade to move up to #13 to pick Kelly Olynyk - two spots before Giannis was taken.

vs
Jonas Jerebko vs Jabari Parker
Parker is playing very well this season, averaging 20.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists. He is also shooting 39% from beyond the arc. Whether it is Al Horford or Jonas Jerebko or someone else guarding him, they will have a tough assignment.

Honorable Mention

Bench vs Bench
The Bucks have two former starters coming off their bench in Greg Monroe and Michael Beasley. Both are in the top 5 in field goal percentage for reserves. Monroe is shooting 51.6% while Beasley is shooting 51.4%. The Celtics bench will be weakened with the injuries, especially if Horford is out and so the remaining reserves must step up and take up the slack on both offense and defense.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is always a key to winning. So far this season it seems as though the defense of the Celtics has been hit or miss. At times, like against the Wizards, it seems as though they just can't get any stops and allow teams to get to the basket at will and play soft. Other games, like against the Rockets, they come out with energy and play tough defense. Let's hope that the Celtics come out strong on defense and show their grit.

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. With both teams playing back to back, if the Celtics can have more energy to keep up the pace, they may be able to wear the Bucks out.

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. As was said, 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 and on defense and going to the basket and 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.

X-Factors

Back to Back With both teams playing back to back games and having to travel after the previous game, the team that can summon more energy and play hard right up to the end will get the win. The Celtics had an easy win over the Magic and so the starters got to rest some in the 4th quarter. The Bucks lost to the Raptors but limited all but Antetokounmpo and Parker played less than 30 minutes. Hopefully the Celtics won't rest on their laurels and will still be hungry for a win in this game. And also hopefully the loss the night before won't push the Bucks to play even harder in this game.

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.