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Pregame: Stevens expects Lee to play

12/3/2013

BOSTON -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he expects Courtney Lee to play during Tuesday's visit from the Milwaukee Bucks.

Lee still was going through his on-court warmup as Stevens met with reporters, but had completed that routine after Monday's practice and deemed himself ready to suit up after missing two games with a sore left knee.

Lee's return would add an offensive weapon to a Boston bench that has struggled to provide a consistent punch, particularly in his absence. The sixth-year guard is averaging 7.6 points on 51 percent shooting over 16.9 minutes per game this season.

A few more pregame notes:

  • BUCKING THE TREND: The Celtics are playing the Bucks for the third time in 33 days and second time in four nights while wrapping up a home-and-home series. "It’s pretty unique," Stevens said. "I guess it’s probably unheard of in my [college] career, but I’ve played teams within 10 days before. Again, it’s kind of like, you've got 82 games, you've got to play them all. And this is how the schedule works itself out. I think obviously there’s more familiarity when you’re getting ready to play a team again, and it’s fresh in your mind, which isn’t always a good thing if you got beat the way we did." Two of the Bucks' three wins this season have come against Boston. The teams wrap up their four-game season series on Feb. 10 in Milwaukee.

  • BAD OFFENSE LEADS TO BAD DEFENSE: Stevens liked how his team played for much of the first meeting with the Bucks (building a 20+ point lead before the Bucks rallied late). But Stevens didn't like his team's effort on Saturday. "We let a bad-shooting night on our part affect us on both ends," Stevens said. "And not even that, we just didn’t guard with the same tenacity that we guarded them in Game 1. And if you don’t do that, you’ll get beat by them. Gary Neal, OJ Mayo, [Ersan] Ilyasova, [Caron] Butler when he’s healthy -- you go down the list, Brandon Knight. ... Those guys can make shots, especially if they are comfortable and we didn’t do our job in that regard and hopefully we do a better job of that."

  • IN THE ZONE: Jared Sullinger had noted on Monday that the Bucks had stunted Boston's momentum in each of the first two meetings by mixing in a zone defense. Stevens said his players can't use that as an excuse for their offensive lulls. "It’s basically a 1-2-2 matchup... they just kinda mix it up," said Stevens. "They basically play it as a matchup zone with man principles. If you bring a big up, it becomes man; if you hit the flash, it becomes man, those type of things. I thought [the impact of the zone in Saturday's game] was a little bit overblown just because of the fact that, first of all, I thought it was effective in the games, I just thought we missed a lot of shots last game. And we’ve got to go in with the mindset that we have to confidently step up and knock those shots down when the defense changes. It’s not rocket science. But it did certainly impact us on the offensive end, especially in Game 1. I thought the other day it impacted us, but not nearly as much."