Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 33-29
Boston Celtics (Doc Rivers) 40-21
Time: 7:00 (CST)
TV: FS Wisconsin
Brandon Jennings vs. Rajon Rondo
Length, quickness, instincts, tenacity, you name it and Rondo has it defensively. So don’t expect another barrage of open three-point looks and all kinds of fancy hand gestures from Jennings in this one. Jennings and Rondo are quite a study in contrasts. Jennings has a steady, if not prolific, outside shot, but thus far in his career has been unable to finish inside in his career. Rondo on the other hand, is finishing nearly two thirds of his shots at the rim, but shoots threes like a drunk at a carnival. Rondo’s experience, length and general dominance defensively give him the edge over the Milwaukee rook though.
John Salmons vs. Ray Allen
If anyone’s looking for any further reason to come check this game out, just think about Ray Allen’s shot. We’re Bucks fans, we’ve seen Allen’s balance, perfect release and unwavering concentration time and time again, but it’s still a thing of beauty. The results have been shaky this year, peaks and valleys, but Allen’s shot better than 50% in his last four games from behind the arc and from the field. He’s the kind of guy you can never leave alone … but at this point he’s also the kind of guy that can be attacked offensively. Allen’s been nicked up here and there the last few reasons and, while I don’t see him often, may have slipped a notch defensively.
Advantage: Bucks (Don’t freak out, just look at the last ten games)
Carlos Delfino vs. Paul Pierce
Pierce is searching for consistency since returning from a three game absence at the end of February, alternating between good night and non-existent nights. Pierce is a veteran, he knows where the Celtics are heading, and he’s probably not going to go crazy trying to unrealistically move up a seed in the East. He’s not on cruise control, but Pierce may not be taking the initiative in the offense like he will in the playoffs. Pierce’s three-point shooting has been above his career norms this year and he may be content to toss a few up on the road in Milwaukee. Whether he chooses to attack from the outside or get inside against the Bucks he’ll be a handful.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute vs. Kevin Garnett
Odds that Kevin Garnett gets booed Tuesday: 1:1. Garnett wore out his welcome quickly when visiting the Bradley Center last year and getting into a dustup with Andrew Bogut. Garnett’s jaw is still active as ever, but he’s slipped a bit this year. LRMAM won’t intimidate Garnett offensively, but should be able to hang with him on the defensive end and scrap for an easy bucket or two inside. Garnett’s biggest impact will come as it always does, as the team’s heartbeat. If it gets close in the end, Garnett has his ways to keep the team focused and help them clamp down to pick up a win.
Andrew Bogut vs. Kendrick Perkins
Bogut had his way with the Celtics in Boston on December 8th. In 40 minutes, Bogut had 25-14-5-2 (five assists, two blocks), though he turned it over seven times. Bogut’s ability to finish with either hand and stand up to the pounding Perkins puts on defensively down low played a big roll in his big game earlier this year. As always with Bogut, it’ll be important he has his trusty touch, because free-throws are rarely a result of his brand of finesse game of hooks and runners. Defensively, Bogut’s playing even better than he was in December and could help the Bucks protect the rim against a Celtics team that likes to attack.
Jerry Stackhouse, Luke Ridnour, Ersan Ilyasova and Kurt Thomas
Nate Robinson, Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels and Glen Davis
The Celtics have a bench that’s high on emotion, low on stability and has unpredictable consistency. Robinson can get hot, or he can get burnt. Wallace has tools, shoots three’s and rarely succeeds. Daniels and Davis are mercurial players that are tough when motivated, but tough to motivate. Will coming to Milwaukee be enough to fire these guys up? I’m thinking this is a better playoff bench than a regular season bench.
Prediction: Bucks 91 – Celtics 88
I don’t want to come off as a homer. I really think I try to logically analyze each game and judge the Bucks victory chances based upon matchups and talent. But it’s hard for me to see the Bucks dropping a game against an aging Celtics team that’s motivation often wavers. These are the types of regular season games that favor the scrappy underdog over the old hands waiting for the playoffs.
Could I be off base? Sure.
Would I bet on it Tuesday? Nah.