The Celtics welcome the Bucks to the Garden for their home opener of the 2017-18 season. The Celtics are already playing in their first back to back set of the season, having played in Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Bucks are playing in their season opener.
Tuesday's season opener took a lot out of every player on the Celtics. With just over 6 minutes to go in the first quarter, Gordon Hayward went down with a fractured ankle and was taken back to Boston to the hospital for surgery. The Celtics certainly were playing with thoughts of Gordon on their minds. They fell behind by as many as 18 points but came back to take the lead at one point but they ended up losing by just 3.
The Celtics will need to regroup and find the best player to fill in for Hayward in the starting lineup. I'm just making a wild guess that Marcus Smart will fill in at shooting guard with Jaylen Brown moving to small forward. That will allow the rest of the starting lineup to remain the same. Another possibility could be to start Irving, Brown, Tatum, Horford and Baynes.
Marcus Morris is still out with a sore knee and will likely join the starters when he comes back. There is no injury and the MRI was clean, but he has been experiencing soreness and so the Celtics are being cautious so as not to cause an injury. Guerschon Yabusele missed Tuesday's game with an illness and is questionable for this game. Gordon Hayward is out with the ankle injury. Jabari Parker is out for the Bucks as he rehabs from a torn ACL. He is targeting a February return.
Boston Celtics Probable Starters
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Al Horford
Marcus Morris (knee) out
Guerschon Yabusele (illness) questionable
Gordon Hayward (ankle) out
Milwaukee Bucks Probable Starters
PG: Malcolm Brogdon
SG: Tony Snell
SF: Khris Middleton
PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo
C: Thon Maker
Jabari Parker (knee) ut
Kyrie Irving vs Malcolm Brogdon
After an emotional return to Cleveland for Kyrie, he makes his home debut at the TD Garden against last season's Rookie of the Year. Brogdon averaged 10.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists last season and was a surprise ROY winner. Kyrie should be able to have his way against the 2nd year player.
Jayson Tatum vs Giannis Antetokounmpo
"The Greek Freak" is a tough cover for anyone. It will be an even tougher cover for Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum. If Brad Stevens adds Aron Baynes to the starters instead of Marcus Smart, then it will be Al’s job to cover him. Even more importantly, Jayson or Al will need to make Giannis work on defense to try to wear him down.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is always a key to winning. The defense of the Celtics was a pleasant surprise in the preseason. Hopefully, as they become more and more used to each other and the system, the defense will get even better. The Celtics need to make defense a priority and get stops to keep the Bucks from going on big runs.
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. When the Celtics run, good things happen.
Move the Ball - We saw some beautiful ball movement in the preseason and the Celtics need to continue to move the ball and find the open man. When the ball sticks and when players try to do too much themselves, it rarely ends well. They are going to have to refigure their offense to make up for the loss of Gordon Hayward and moving the ball more would be a good start.
Rebound - The Celtics can't score if they don't have the ball. The Celtics struggled to rebound last season but have looked much better on the boards in the preseason. 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. They were out-rebounded by 3 against the Cavs and will need to work a bit harder against the very long and athletic Bucks.
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.
Fatigue - The Celtics have their first back to back already in their second game of the season. They had a very emotional game on Tuesday night against Kyrie's former team and so they may have a let down afterwards. This is the Bucks first game of the season and so they should be fresh and raring to go. Fatigue may set in down the stretch for the Celtics.
The Injury Factor - The loss of Gordon Hayward to a gruesome injury took a lot out of the Celtics. They need to regroup and try to put that behind them, as difficult as it might be. They will be playing short handed with Marcus Morris also out and possibly Yabusele as well. Next man up has to be their mindset.
Home Opener - The new look Celtics are playing in their first game in front of the home crowd. Hopefully they will get a boost from the fans and draw energy from the home crowd.