The Celtics will look to win their second straight home game as they host the NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks. This is the first of 4 games between these two teams this season. They will play again in Boston on December 13. They will meet in Milwaukee on Christmas Day and again on April 7. The Celtics won the series 2-1 last season. A Celtics win would get them to .500 for the first time this season and would also move the Bucks to below .500.
The Bucks are 5-2 on the road and have won their last 2 games. On Wednesday, they let a 24 point lead slip vs the Knicks but they were able to hold on to get the win. The Celtics are 1-3 at home and won their last game at home against the Raptors on Wednesday. Both teams are 5-5 in their last 10 games. The Celtics are playing in the first of back to back games and will face the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Saturday.
Milwaukee has won their last 2 games after losing 5 of their previous 6 games. The Celtics have won 3 of their last 4 games after starting out 2-5. The Bucks are playing in the 4th game of a 5 game road trip. They will finish up the trip in Atlanta on Sunday. The Celtics are 112-107 all time against the Bucks and they are 70-40 against them at home.
Jaylen Brown is expected to miss this game due to a hamstring injury. He has said that he is pain free but still has some tightness in it. I expect the Celtics to be cautious and not bring him back too quickly. The Bucks will be without Khris Middleton who is out after testing positive for covid. Donte DiVincenzo remains out after off season ankle surgery. Brook Lopez is expected to miss the game with a back injury. Giannis Antetokounmpo is probable after tweaking his ankle on Wednesday vs the Knicks.
Probable Celtics Starters
Jaylen Brown (hamstring) out
Sam Hauser (called up)
Probable Bucks Starters
Donte DeVincenzo (ankle) out
Khris Middleton (covid) out
Brook Lopez (back) out
Giannis Antetokounmpo (ankle) probable
Two Way Players
Al Horford vs Giannis Antetokounmpo
Antetokounmpo has to be one of the toughest players to cover in the league. He is averaging 26.6 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game. He is shooting 49.6% from the field but just 28.6% from beyond the arc. He is also a very good defender and so he will be a challenge on both ends of the court.
Marcus Smart vs Jrue Holiday
Holiday is averaging 13.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. He is shooting 44.3% from the field and 44.4% from beyond the arc. He is capable of putting up big numbers if not defended well. He is also a good defender and will make it hard for the Celtics to score.
Jayson Tatum vs Grayson Allen
Allen is averaging 15.4 ponts, 3.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. He is shooting 44.5% from the field and 41.9% on threes. He is coming off a game against the Knicks where he hit 5 threes on 45.5% shooting from beyond the arc. It would be good for the Celtics to guard him on the perimeter.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is absolutely the key to winning every game. The Celtics have clamped down on defense in the past 4 games and have won 3 of them and lost the 4th on a last second buzzer beater. The Celtics must continue to make defense a priority. The Bucks hit 26 threes in their last game, which is the most of any team this season. The Celtics must defend the perimeter to prevent a repeat of that in this game.
Rebound - Rebounding is also a key to winning every game. You can’t score without the ball and the best way to get the ball and to get extra possessions is to crash the boards and beat the opponent to rebounds. Rebounding takes effort and when the Celtics put out extra effort to win the rebounding battle, that effort usually continues to other areas of the game.
Be Aggressive and Play Hard - The Celtics have to continue to play hard from the opening tip until the final buzzer. They have to start off strong and play hard for 4 quarters with no let up. They also have to be the more aggressive team on defense, in rebounding, in going after loose balls, in going to the basket and just overall being the team that plays harder on both ends of the court.
Focus on Scoring - The Celtics need to focus on taking good shots and on hitting those shots. If the 3s aren’t falling they need to focus on getting inside to get better shots. They can’t let their focus wander and take quick or contested shots. They need to move the ball and keep the Bucks’ defense off guard while they find the open man and take the best shots.
Home Game - The Celtics are at home for the second straight game. They finally got their first win at home and so with that monkey off their backs, the next win should be easier to get. The Celtics should feed off the crowd and gain motivation from playing at home. The Bucks are playing in their 4th straight road game and could be a bit road weary and the Celtics need to take advantage of that.
Officiating - The Officiating is always an x-factor. This year, especially, officials are calling fewer fouls and are allowing players to defend more and offensive players need to know that they won’t always get the calls. Players need to focus on playing their game and not spend time complaining about no calls and bad calls. Some crews call it tight and others let them play. The Celtics need to adjust to how the refs are calling the game and not let it take away from their focus.