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Milwaukee Bucks (10-4) at Boston Celtics (11-3) Game #15 11/22/23

The Celtics will face off against their Eastern Conference rival for the first time this season.

Boston Celtics v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Tonight, the Boston Celtics (5-0 at home) will host the Milwaukee Bucks (4-3 on the road) at TD Garden. It’ll be their first of four matchups of the 2023-2024 season. In last year’s campaign, Boston won the regular season series 2-1, including a 140-99 blowout in April. In their last ten meetings, the C’s are 6-4, and have an all-time record of 116-110 against Milwaukee. Tonight, the Celtics return to Beantown, where they are 73-39 versus the Bucks all-time in their home arena.

With the best record in the NBA, the Celtics are coming off a four-game, 3-1 road stretch. With victories over Philadelphia, Toronto, and Memphis, the C’s wrapped up their road trip with a 121-118 loss to the shorthanded Charlotte Hornets. Winning 6 of the last 7 games, Boston will look to retain control of the East.

Yes, head coach Joe Mazzulla and the C’s have quality victories over the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers. However, most recently, Mazzulla’s squad was barely able to lift themselves over the Grizzlies and Raptors, which are two sub-.500 teams.

Calling the Celtics “lucky” after their victory over Memphis, Mazzulla acknowledged his team “blew the lead” in their first ever overtime game this season versus the Hornets. Once up 18 points, the Cs gave up an absurd number of transition points and second chance points off 17 offensive rebounds. In a nutshell, Boston was caught sleeping in the second half, and choked in the end.

Don’t let that recent lapse against the Hornets fool you. The Celtics are an elite team this season, ranking the third best defensive team in the NBA (107 points per game). Although they’ve yet to fully develop chemistry, they still lead the league in net rating (10.6) by a large margin.

For the Bucks, they initially struggled to find their stride early on, and are coming off a five-game win streak. Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo have slowly figured out how to flourish together. After both teams completed blockbuster trades prior to the season, Milwaukee will have their toughest test yet against Boston.

With the deadly duo of Giannis and Lillard, the Bucks pride themselves as a top-5 offensive team in the league. Tonight is the first time Celtics guard Jrue Holiday will face his former team. Personally, I’m excited for the Holiday versus Lillard matchup we’ve all been waiting for.

While Jayson Tatum is listed as questionable, the Celtics will have guard Derrick White back, who missed Wednesday’s matchup with the Hornets for personal reasons.



  • Jayson Tatum (illness, non-COVID): QUESTIONABLE


  • Chris Livingston (ankle): OUT
  • Jae Crowder (abdominal tear): OUT
  • Damian Lillard (oblique): PROBABLE
  • MarJon Beauchamp (ankle): OUT


  • PG, #4: Jrue Holiday
  • SG, #9: Derrick White
  • SF, #7: Jaylen Brown
  • PF, #0: Jayson Tatum*
  • C, #4: Kristaps Porzingis

*If Jayson Tatum is unable to suit up, expect Al Horford or Sam Hauser to get the start


  • G, #45: Dalano Banton
  • G, #50: Svi Mykhailiuk
  • G, #11: Payton Pritchard
  • G, #27: Jordan Walsh
  • G, #20: JD Davidson (2-way player)
  • F, #12: Oshae Brissett
  • F, #30: Sam Hauser
  • F, #77: Lamar Stevens
  • F, #1: Nathan Knight (2-way player)
  • F, #42: Al Horford
  • C, #40: Luke Kornet
  • C, #88: Neemias Queta (2-way player)


  • Joe Mazzulla


  • PG, #0: Damian Lillard
  • SG, #5: Malik Beasley
  • SF, #22: Khris Middleton
  • PF, #34: Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • C, #11: Brook Lopez


  • G, #15: Cameron Payne
  • G, #20 : AJ Green
  • G, #44: Andre Jackson Jr.
  • G, #28: Lindell Wigginton (2-way player)
  • G, #23: TyTy Washington (2-way player)
  • G, #3 : MarJon Beauchamp
  • F, #99: Jae Crowder
  • F, #24: Pat Connaughton
  • F, #43: Thanasis Antetokounmpo
  • F, #7: Chris Livingston
  • C, #9: Bobby Portis
  • C, #42: Robin Lopez
  • C, #: Marquez Bolden (2-way player)


  • Adrian Griffin

Keys for a Cs win

Home court advantage: Through 14 games, the Celtics have only suffered three losses, and all of them came on the road. Heading into tonight's matchup, Boston is 5-0 at home. In five games at the Garden, the C’s are playing incredible basketball from an offensive point. Putting up 125 points, 13 more than their average on the road, Boston has increasing shot percentages from the field (50.6 percent) and from long range (41.8 percent). They have a +22 on the court in Boston compared to 4.1 on the road.

I know it sounds cliche, but given Milwaukee is the second best in the East, the home court crowd will matter tonight.

Break down the opposing defense: Let’s face it, the Bucks defense took a major hit with Jrue Holiday’s departure. As elite as Giannis is on both sides of the court, the rest of the team lacks in defensive production. Twenty-third in defensive efficiency (115.4), the Bucks allow opponents to score nearly 117 points per game. After swapping former head coach Mike Budenholzer for Adrian Griffin, it appears this entire team is still forming their identity and chemistry. Tonight, it’s crucial the Celtics attack and exploit their defensive weaknesses off the jump.

Limit Giannis Antetokounmpo: In today’s basketball world, there are very few teams and players that can stop Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak continues his dominance in the league, averaging over 30 points per game, and 10.2 rebounds. A freakishly athletic player, Giannis is coming off back-to back 40-point games against Washington and Dallas. Having already tested Porzingis and Horford against Embiid, they will get a shot at defending Antetokounmpo tonight.

With the opportunity to continue his streak, #34 has been unstoppable. If Boston plays a drop set defense, that may help with the pick and roll, however, we’ve yet to see how Boston will respond to their new offensive system under a different head coach. In his tenure with the Bucks, the former MVP has a career average of 22.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists against the Celtics.

Control the boards: I’m really inclined to say this every single matchup. In the loss to the Hornets, Boston gave up a bunch of second chance opportunities. With Milwaukee ranked as the best rebounding team, it will be imperative for the C’s to box out and not let the Bucks dominate inside and on the glass.

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