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Celtics host the Milwaukee Bucks with first seed on the line

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The Celtics host the Milwaukee Bucks in their final regular season game. The Celtics' fate is in their own hand as with a win, the Celtics become the top seed in the East.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

at
Milwaukee Bucks (42-39) at Boston Celtics (52-29)
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #82 – Home Game #41
TV: CSN-NE, FSN-WI, NBA-LP 754(DTV)/753(Xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 105.7 FM
TD Garden


Referees: Tom Washington, Marat Kogut, Mark Lindsay

The Celtics host the Milwaukee Bucks for the 3rd and final meeting this season. The Celtics won the first meeting 112-108 in Milwaukee in overtime on January 28 without both Avery Bradley and Al Horford. The Celtics lost 103-100 in Boston on March 29th when Malcolm Brogdon converted a turnover by Isaiah into a game winning 3 pointer.

Both teams have won their last 2 games and are looking to end the season with a 3 game win streak. The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games while the Bucks are 6-4 in their last 10. The Celtics are 29-11 at home while the Bucks are 19-21 on the road.

The Celtics moved in to first in the East with their win over the Nets and the Cavs loss to the Heat. On Tuesday night, the Hawks beat the Hornets to lock up the 5th seed and at the same time to lock the Bucks in to 6th. The Raptors are locked in to the 3rd seed and the Wizards are 4th. This sets up 2 first round matchups with the Hawks at the Wizards and the Bucks at the Raptors. The 1st and 2nd seeds and the 7th and 8th seeds are still to be decided.

The Bucks are locked into the 6th seed and have their first round matchup set and so they have nothing to play for in this game. Antetokounmpo, Delavadova, Middleton, and Snell did not make the trip to Boston and will sit out this game. Jabari Parker is out with a knee injury. The Celtics should be at full strength and haven't said anything as of yet about resting any players. They should play everyone because they haven't had that much time recently with everyone available.

Standings Reset
Raptors are locked into 3, Wizards are locked into 4, Hawks are locked into 5 and Bucks are locked into 6
The Celtics remain #1 with the Cavs 1 game behind. The Celtics simply need to win this game to finish with the top seed. At the bottom, Indiana is #7, 1 game ahead of Chicago, who is currently #8. Miami is #9 and tied with Chicago, with Chicago owning the tie breaker.
Games to Watch - Toronto at Cleveland, Washington at Miami, Brooklyn at Chicago, Atlanta at Indiana, Bulls vs Nets

Possible Outcomes
The first and second seeds are pretty much straight forward. If the Celtics win or the Cavs lose, the Celtics have #1. If the Celtics lose and the Cavs win then the Cavs have #1. LeBron will be out for rest and Felder, Irving, and Thompson are game time decisions with injuries. Raptors will reportedly play their whole squad to give them a bit more time together since the return of Kyle Lowry. The 7th and 8th seeds aren't quite that clear cut.
Pacers

Atlanta resting Bazemore, Hardaway, Howard, Millsap and Schroder. Pacers no resting players listed.
No. 7 seed: Win over Atlanta Hawks OR Bulls lose to Nets and Heat lose to Washington Wizards
No. 8 seed: Loss to Hawks, Bulls loss to Nets and Heat win over Wizards OR loss to Hawks, Bulls win over Nets and Heat loss to Wizards
No. 9 seed (eliminated): Loss to Hawks, Bulls win over Nets and Heat win over Wizards
BULLS
Nets resting Brook Lopez and Jeremy Lin. Bulls no resting players/ Rondo (wrist) GTD

No. 7 seed: Win over Nets and Pacers loss to Hawks No.
8 seed: Win over Nets and Pacers win over Hawks OR loss to Nets and Heat loss to Wizards
No. 9 seed (eliminated): Loss to Nets, Pacers win over Hawks and Heat win over Wizards
Heat

Babbitt, McRoberts, Waiters out with injury. Beal, Mahinmi, Morris, and Wall out.
No. 7 seed: Win over Wizards, Pacers loss to Hawks and Bulls loss to Nets
No. 8 seed: Win over Wizards, Pacers loss to Hawks and Bulls win over Nets OR win over Wizards, Pacers win over Hawks and Bulls loss to Nets
No. 9 seed (eliminated): Loss to Wizards OR Pacers win over Hawks and Bulls win over Nets


Probable Starters
PG SG SF
PF C
Isaiah Thomas...Avery Bradley...Jae Crowder...Amir Johnson...Al Horford

Celtics Reserves
Marcus Smart
Terry Rozier
James Young
Tyler Zeller
Jordan Mickey
Kelly Olynyk
Gerald Green
Jaylen Brown
Demetrius Jackson
Jonas Jerebko

Injuries
None

Head Coach
Brad Stevens


Probable Starters
PG SG SF
PF C
Malcolm Brogdon...Rashad Vaughn...Mirza Teletovic...Michael Beasley...Thon Maker

Bucks Reserves

Terrence Jones
Greg Monroe
Jason Terry
John Henson
Spencer Hawes

Injuries

Matthew Dellavedova (rest) out
Khris Middleton (rest) out
Giannis Antetokounmpo (rest) out
Tony Snell (rest) out
Jabari Parker (knee) out

Head Coach

Jason Kidd

Key Matchups
vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Malcolm Brogdon
This one is personal for both players. Isaiah should still be stinging from the game winner that Brogdon made in his face in their 3/29 loss to the Bucks. Brogdon expected the Celtics to pick him in the draft with one of their 8 draft picks and wants to prove that they made the wrong decision to pass on him. Brogdon had 16 points and 9 assists in that game.

vs
Amir Johnson vs Michael Beasley
Beasley for some reason always seems to play well against the Celtics and so it will be important to slow him down and keep him from having a big game.

Honorable Mention
Kelly Olynyk vs Greg Monroe
Monroe is a former starter coming off the bench and will be a challenge for Kelly (or Jonas or whoever) to guard. He is averaging 11.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists off the bench. In the first meeting between these two teams he finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is always a key to winning. The defense of the Celtics has been up and down this season and with the playoffs on the horizon, it's time for every player to lock into playing the best team defense they can. They have had one of the best defenses in the league at times since the All Star break and they have the top rated defense in the 4th quarter. They must come out with a defensive mindset and make that their priority.

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.

Take Care of the Ball - 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. At times the Celtics seem to lose focus and turn the ball over too much. They must keep their focus and value every possession.

Rebound - The Celtics can't score if they don't have the ball. The Celtics struggle at times to rebound and so they 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

Resting Players - The Bucks are resting their normal starters and so it should be easier for the Celtics to get a win. However, if Brad Stevens decides to rest some of his players, then it evens the playing field much more. It's always a bit scary when the Celtics face a team that they are expected to beat easily. Think back to the Kings without several of their top players and the Celtics lost. Hopefully they don't play down to the Bucks reserves and put this one away early because it's certain that the reserves will be playing to show they deserve more playing time in the playoffs and won't just give up easily.

Focus and Motivation - With the Celtics in first place, it's hard to picture them losing focus in a very winnable game. However, we have seen them face teams at less than full strength and then put out less than full effort on the court. The Celtics need to draw energy from the home crowd and keep their focus on playing their game. If the Celtics win this game, they can avoid the Cavs, Raptors and Bucks in the first 2 rounds and secure home court advantage through the Eastern Conference Finals. Avoiding those teams that give the Celtics problems seems like enough motivation to make them play their best.

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. Tom Washington has been decent in the past and isn't known as a particularly bad ref. The Celtics are 6-4 with him in their last 10 games. Home teams are 38-21 this season when he officiates.