“It kind of has a little bit of a, kind of a playoff feel when you have to play a team back-to-back like that.”
– Larry Drew speaking to reporters Saturday before Milwaukee played the first of consecutive games against the Celtics.
So at least the Bucks will get to experience something like the playoffs this season.
What to Watch For: Bucks
The Bucks trotted out another new starting lineup against the Celtics on Saturday night. This one saw Brandon Knight and OJ Mayo in the backcourt alongside Khris Middleton, Ekpe Udoh and John Henson up front. While the Bucks did finally pull out a win, they again got off to a rough start, falling behind 19-14 before the first substitution was made. But Milwaukee may finally have stumbled onto a lineup worth looking into further on Saturday.
Down 32-27 with 8:25 to play in the second quarter, for the first time all season, this lineup was on the floor together: Knight-Mayo-Giannis-Udoh-Henson. The Bucks proceeded to play some of the best ball they’ve played all season. Defensively, the length of Giannis and Henson combined with Ekpe Udoh’s … uh … guile? … kept the Celtics from running away with the game. Meanwhile, Mayo and Knight went to work offensively, connecting on jumpers and drives and pushing the pace to get Milwaukee what they’ve lacked this season: easy baskets.
On the night, that group played 10 minutes together and finished with some terrific SMALL SAMPLE SIZE numbers.
Offensive rating: 121.8
Defensive rating: 60.4
Defensive rebound percentage: 91.7%
Here’s why the sample size is obviously important though: Knight and Mayo combined to go 5-5 on threes while this lineup was on the court. That’s going to impact any stats obviously. But I’m all in favor of seeing more of this group, specifically the trio of Knight-Giannis-Henson. Those guys all have plus plus plus defender capabilities and some real boom or bust potential on offense. BRING ON THE CHAOS.
What to Watch For: Celtics
The Celtics seemed to very much regret Saturday’s loss, not so much because they failed to execute, rather because they simply didn’t finish plays. Too many missed shots was the theme that the Boston crew stuck with.
Boston coach Brad Stevens said his team’s struggles simply were due to missing shots.
“We moved the ball against the zone and attacked where we wanted to,” he said. “We just didn’t make as many as we wanted to.”
The Celtics missed 15 of 19 3-point attempts.
“We definitely had a good amount of looks, but we just weren’t able to knock them down,” Boston’s Avery Bradley said. “Probably every 3 we took was wide open. We just weren’t able to convert.”
It sounds like the Celtics were comfortable with how they played against the Bucks, just bummed shots that usually go in for them didn’t go in. Larry Drew said after the game he felt like the zone defense Milwaukee played on and off throughout the game did a good job of disrupting the Celtics offense, so look for Boston to be prepared for more zone on Tuesday.
Time – 6:30 p.m. CST
TV – FS Wisconsin
Radio – 620 WTMJ
Bucks: Ersan Ilyasova (hamstring, day-to-day), Caron Butler (knee; out) Larry Sanders (thumb; out), Carlos Delfino (foot surgery; out);
Celtics: Courtney Lee (knee, day-to-day), Kelly Olynyk (ankle, day-to-day)
PG Brandon Knight
SG O.J. Mayo
SF Khris Middleton
PF Ekpe Udoh
C John Henson
PG Jordan Crawford
SG Avery Bradley
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger
Jeremy’s For Recreational Purposes Only Prediction (aka Betsketball)
Line: Boston -6.5
This is a weird thing, my inability to correctly predict a game against the spread combined with my ability to correctly predict the over/under on a near nightly basis. If anything, it reinforces the most important gambling rule we can all learn: Avoid parlays.
I’m a believer that zone defenses aren’t for extended NBA use. The Celtics aren’t shooter rich, but they aren’t the Pistons either (haha, the Pistons, those guys can’t shoot, amiright?!). If the Bucks go back to the well for more zone water, I think they’ll remain thirsty and find trouble in the form of dehydration instead.
Analogies. Celtics -6.5, under 185.
Record: 9-5 (3-4 ATS and 6-1 over/under)
Choose the Form of the Destructor: Jeff Green
I cannot emphasize enough how glowingly Larry Drew spoke of Jeff Green last Saturday night. Not only after Green muscled his way to 18 points while tallying six assists, but before Green did his damage too.
“Jeff Green, he’s as good as they are,” he said prior to Saturday’s game. “He can do it from the outside, he can do it inside, he’s good in transition.”
Consider him a fan.