With a chance to further close the gap on the Toronto Raptors, the Boston Celtics saw their six-game win streak snapped at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks 106-102. Entering tomorrow’s big game in Toronto, the Celtics still trail the Eastern Conference leaders by two games, following the Raptors loss in Cleveland.
Boston had to play the Bucks with only one point guard available, as Terry Rozier missed his first game of the season with an ankle injury and Shane Larkin continues to work his way back from an illness. That mean Kadeem Allen drew the first start of his career, after spending most of the season in the NBAGL with the Maine Red Claws.
The Celtics offense predictably struggled at times, but it was the defense that let Boston down. The Bucks shot 54.4 percent from the floor, as they regularly got easy baskets inside. Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee with 29 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Eric Bledsoe took advantage of the lack of an opposing point guard to score 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting, while Khris Middleton added 20.
Boston was led by the young tandem of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, who scored 24 and 20 points respectively. Al Horford added 15 points, but got just nine field goal attempts. The Celtics need to work to make sure Horford is getting more looks at the basket, especially when offense is hard to come by.
Marcus Morris, who carried the offense throughout much of the win streak, struggled off the Boston bench. He scored 13 points, but made only 4-of-16 shots from the field, including several misses late in the game.
The Celtics as a whole got easy baskets inside, but couldn’t find the range, as they hit 7-of-23 from behind the arc.
With the loss, Boston remains two games behind the East-leading Raptors. The Celtics can cut that deficit to just one game with four games to play for each team, if they can pick up a win in Toronto on Wednesday night.