Celtics vs Bucks- Downton Milwaukee on TNT
A Bucks Win Will Seal It
The 55-21 Milwaukee Bucks take on the 52-24 Boston Celtics in downtown Milwaukee at the Fiserv Forum. At home the Bucks are 30-7. They have a 3 game lead for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. After just smoking Indiana last night in a fast-paced, NBA regular season game, the Bucks have set themselves up for the finish they want. With a win, and only five games left, this all pretty much seals the #1 seed up and allows Coach Bud to start resting guys and setting up his playoff rotations.
For the Milwaukee Bucks to be able to play back on Christmas Day was a pretty cool thing. They lost 139-118 (not a cool thing) but it still seemed to signal the start of the second half of the NBA regular season. That second half has been more of a struggle for Boston than for Milwaukee. With Khris Middleton back, Jrue Holiday playing at an all-star level and Giannis Antetokounmpo playing at an MVP level, Milwaukee looks good.
Tonight Milwaukee is favored by two points and is only given a 46% chance to win. (They played last night on a back-to-back.) But you get the feeling that with the home crowd energy, and a struggling Celtics team, this could be a big night for the Bucks.
Score the ball
If you regularly follow this space you’ve read about our theory on the magic #118 points per game idea. When the Bucks reach that number, good things happen.
The Bucks are 6th in the NBA in scoring (117 points per game). Twenty games ago the team was barely averaging 114 points a game. Why the difference?
Defensively, and with constant consistent rebounding, they have established an identity as a team that turns stops into scores.
Milwaukee’s team field goal percentage is going up and up. Around that dreaded Christmas road trip, the Bucks were sitting at 23rd in the NBA. Today they are in a statistically dead-heat for 14th place. I don’t “do Math” but that seems like quite a jump! It turns out the club is simply shooting the ball better.
Related: Bucks move up in Power Rankings
Make those fouls count
During the NBA playoffs the defense gets ratcheted up. The intensity of every possession becomes larger and teams have to adjust. The way they defend also has to become better.
So does they way they foul.
Milwaukee is second in the league in “fouling”- only fouling teams 18.2 times per game.
Milwaukee has had some pretty silly, sloppy fouls lately. Against Indiana Milwaukee had 18 fouls. (Again, not too bad.) Bobby Portis has 4 and the ones he had were unnecessary and chippy at times. The Bucks were saved by Indiana’s 25 fouls, most of which were just lazy play.
Boston is 8th in the league, fouling teams 19 times a game. Tonight, watch how the two teams commit those fouls and where they foul, when they foul.
Out Rebound Boston
Milwaukee leads the NBA in team rebounding at 48.9 total boards a game.
Boston has dropped from 5th to 7th in the NBA in team rebounding since the last time they played. The team that controls the glass in this one will have a big advantage.
The Opponent: The Boston Celtics
Why is Boston not playing well lately? It always comes back to the stars.
Jason Tatum is having an MVP caliber season. He is averaging 30/8/4. But lately all of the minutes he has been playing have caught up to him. He was averaging over 38 minutes per game. In the most recent loss to Washington, Tatum scored his 28 points but it was on 2-7 shooting from three and with -10 +/- in 32 minutes.
Jaylen Brown has also not been playing well. In that same loss to Washington he got his 18 points on 9-19 shooting, 0-4 from three and turning the ball over 4 times. He also seems tired.
Former Buck Malcolm Brogdon has played well for Boston. He has yet to start a game but has averaged 14 points a game, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. He is in the running with Bobby Portis for NBA 6th man of the year. Brogdon was the Bucks second round pick in 2016.
Related: Revisiting the 2016 NBA Draft
Grant Williams is back and playing. He has also been a little off lately. He is listed as doubtful for tonight’s game.
This Celtics team looks very similar to the same team that played in the NBA Championship last season. Derek White has played a larger role and new addition Mike Muscala has added some back-up center minutes.
Things to tell your buddies as you are watching the game
- The Celtics are one of the NBA’s original eight teams. The other seven were the New York Knicks, Philadelphia (now Golden State) Warriors, the Providence Steamrollers, the Baltimore Bullets, the Chicago Stags, the Washington Capitols and the St. Louis Bombers.
- Sam Hauser, on the Celtics, is from Stevens Point, WI.
- The Bucks are 21-4 in their last 25 games.
- The most turnovers, in a game, the Bucks have had in their last 25 games is 18. They hit that number last night in the blowout win vs Indiana.
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