Friday, December 21, 2012
W2W4: Celtics vs. Bucks (Game 26 of 82)
By Chris Forsberg
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Boston Celtics (13-12, 9-4 home) host the Milwaukee Bucks (13-11, 6-6 away) in their final home game of the calendar year on Friday night at TD Garden (7:30 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:
Can Rajon Rondo and the Celtics even the season series with the Milwaukee Bucks?
* THE BUCKS AGAIN?!: Improbably, this is the fourth (and final) meeting of the season for these two Eastern Conference foes. The Bucks spoiled Boston's home-opener with a 99-88 triumph and Boston got revenge with a 96-92 win in Milwaukee later that month. A late-game 3-pointer by Brandon Jennings helped the Bucks escape with a 91-88 victory earlier this month at the Bradley Center. While Boston hasn't seen an Atlantic Division rival like the New York Knicks yet, it will have played 15.4 percent of their schedule against the Bucks.
* SYNERGY SNAPSHOT: The Bucks are one of the worst offenses in the league based on Synergy's points-per-play metric (0.875, 26th overall), but thrive in transition (1.202, 8th) and the Celtics absolutely have to force a half-court game. The backcourt of Jennings and Monta Ellis can score points (though not particularly efficiently) and last time out it was Larry Sanders who really burned Boston with an 18-point, 16-rebound effort. Defensively, the Bucks rank 10th overall in the league allowing 0.897 points per play and are actually a top-5 defense in the half-court set. Jennings hasn't graded out well (0.883 points per play, 38th percentile) and Rajon Rondo must attempt to exploit him. Old friend Marquis Daniels has actually been pretty solid (his defensive numbers returning to form this season), ranking in the 94th percentile at 0.687 points per play and it will be interesting to see if he can help slow Paul Pierce coming off a 40-point effort.
* CAN C'S STAY BIG? The Celtics snapped a three-game losing streak with a win over the Cavaliers on Wednesday while shuffling Jason Collins and Jason Terry onto the starting unit. Coach Doc Rivers paired Collins and Kevin Garnett together often, allowing Garnett to play more of his natural power forward position. The Celtics will have to be efficient offensively because the Bucks will attempt to run against Boston's size when they generate stops.
* BENCH ROULETTE: Rivers noted during an interview with WEEI on Thursday that each night a player or two are not stepping up. He didn't name names, but Boston's bench has been woefully inconsistent and prone to lulls that have made every game a grind (just look at Wednesday's win over Cleveland in which a 20-point third-quarter lead got whittled to two). Boston needs its bench, as fluid as it's been, to find some consistency soon.