Thumbnail: The Celtics lose a tight one in the Bradley Center against the streaking Bucks who are now winners of 10 of 11 overall in what could be a potential 1st round preview between these two squads. For the Celtics sake, they better hope it is not, since they had no answer for Andrew Bogut, who had another monster game with 25 points, 17 boards, 4 blocks and one posterizing dunk on Glen Davis you can witness below in Zach’s post.
A back and forth gritty defensive affair featured some strong outside shooting from the Bucks from John Salmons and Carlos Delfino which helped keyed an 18-9 fourth quarter run that gave the Bucks a 7 point lead. The C’s closed the gap nicely to two in the final 3 minutes, giving themselves a chance to tie the game on a Paul Pierce fadeaway from the elbow as time expired, but the shot rimmed out.
Pierce had an off night all evening, while Ray Allen’s failure to get involved (0-3 for the night) kept the C’s perimeter game to be almost non-existent while he was out there. On the good news front, Rondo had one of his best offensive games in awhile, attacking the basket relentlessly for 20 points and a highlight reel jam of his own. KG had a nice bounce back offensive effort as well. Defensively, except when trying to defend Bogut, the entire team looked as good as they have for stretches in a long while.
All in all, a tough road loss against a good Milwaukee team who really wanted this game (4 starters played 40+ minutes). Give them credit for the win, but definitely no reason for the Green to hang their head in the visitors locker room.
A few parting thoughts on the one before we hit bullets. First, this Buck team had something to prove tonight, and well they did it. They blew a big home win against the Lakers earlier this year and yes they beat the Cavs on Saturday night but that was a Lebron-less Cavs team.
They came to play tonight and brought energy on both ends of the floor. Scott Skiles has this squad playing hard and as a cohesive unit on offense and defense. Overall the C’s played a very good defensive game, but they did have some lapses, which the Bucks took full advantage of, whether it be inside or downtown. Defensively, they made the C’s work for their hoops in the half court all night long. Well done.
Count me fully in the camp of this team being a very tough out for the Hawks or Celtics in the 1st round of these playoffs. It’s a pick your poison problem with this team. It’s almost impossible to contain Bogut in one on one defense, though Perk has been of his game lately in this department. Ok then double team Bogut? You have two sharpshooters in Delfino and Salmons ready to take advantage along with a heady veteran in Bogut who makes smart decisions with the ball. It’s not a fun predicament to be in. Tom Thibs will have his hands full trying to figure out the best solution to match this squad if he sees them in round 1.
The game changing run came in the midway point of the 4th quarter for the Bucks who scored on 6 consecutive possessions, a 14-2 overall leading to a 7 point lead 86-79 with just under 3 minutes. It was a little bit of everything offensively from Milwaukee in this sequence, with each member of the lineup pitching in with a hoop.
So this situation leads us to a good news/bad news situation if you are a Celtic fan. The bad news is well, they gave up that run and had a letdown on both ends of the floor in that 3 minute sequence.
The good news? The Celtics put the clamps down in the closing moments, fought back, and actually gave themselves a good chance to tie this one up. They forced 5 jump shots in the closing minutes, yet their opportunities were limited offensively thanks to some timely offensive rebounds that allowed the Bucks to run plenty of clock in the final 2 minutes. That and a terrible offensive foul on Perk with a buck forty left.
All in all though, this was progress for this team. Yes, that is kind of sad to say in a loss to the Bucks, but this is the kind of game where after a big run, the Celtics go into their shell when it matters and come up short this year, not even giving themselves the opportunity to come back. Tonight, they stood firm, got stops when it mattered and got their crunch time scorer a pretty good look to tie this one up against the hottest team in the league, in their building. It wasn’t pretty, but it was progress.
- Minute Watch: Very happy with Doc keeping everyone in the 30’s tonight with Rondo maxing out at 37 minutes. This was just one game, and with Memphis waiting in Boston for the C’s Wednesday night, Doc made sure these guys will have something left in the tank.
- Ray Allen took 3 shots tonight. This can’t happen. The Bucks played good defense on him but you need your best shooter to be more involved than that. All 3 looks were 3 pointers as well. Ray had minimal influence on this game offensively and the Celtics suffered because of it. Give Skiles credit though, he seemed to know Ray was hot coming into this game and made his team key on him to keep him away from the ball.
- Paul Pierce was really forcing it tonight. 3 of 13 overall with 12 points and 4 turnovers. I spoke briefly with Mike Gorman over at MIT this weekend and he mentioned how he thought PP was still feeling the lingering effects of his injuries. With consistent performances like this, I don’t doubt it.
- Perk had a pretty meh game. Defensively he can’t handle Bogut. Offensively, a tough game shooting with 3 of 9, only 5 boards and a terrible moving pick with 2 minutes left, and the team down 4. Also KG threw the ball into him for a possession a minute before that, for a crucial possession that resulted in a fadeaway baseline jumper. Not a smart move KG. Perk is option number 5 in crunch time, not number 1.
- Rajon Rondo had his best game in awhile, from start to finish. He attacked the basket regularly, and got to the line consistently where he probably had the best FT shooting performance in his career (8/9 from stripe). Plus that siiick putback dunk. 20 points and 6 assists overall to go with 4 turnovers. We’ll take it, especially with the continued attacking in the 4th, when this team needed it most. A good sign for sure.
- Great effort by bench in first half, meh in 2nd half. 11/20 from field overall, 4/7 from deep. Can’t complain about that.
- Michael Finley, a strong debut in just 8 minutes of action, hitting 2 deep buckets in the 2nd quarter. Me likey.
- Rasheed Wallace may have played his best game in recent memory. Only 3 shots. 1 3 pointer. 4 boards, an assist and 2 steals. No turnovers. Naturally he only played 19 minutes. This was actually a night where I wouldn’t mind seeing him play in crunch time……Doc can be funny like that sometimes going with the cold hand.
- Jennings has a little too much attitude for his own good right now. Him getting into Baby’s face after a questionably “hard” foul was a little bush league in my opinion. Baby coming back with an almost headbutt too was pretty bad as well. Two immature players right there.
- As consistent an effort as we’ve seen from this team on the defensive end since the west coast trip. Also really liked seeing this team get out in transition a bunch on fast breaks tonight. Need to do that more.
- 15 turnovers……not good……but expected at this point. Lost board battle 41-34 as well as some crucial offensive ones when it mattered. Going to be a flaw all year long for this team upfront against more athletic big men.
The good news for Celtics? We don’t see the Bucks until mid April, where we close the season with two games out of the final 3 against them. Hopefully the seedings are settled by then, but wouldn’t it be kind of funny if the C’s played a 4/5 matchup against them. That would mean they could potentially play 9 games against each other over the course of a couple weeks. I’m getting ahead of myself here though.
Memphis back at home Wednesday night. Two more tough big men with Gasol and Randolph and some athletic perimeter players in Gay and Mayo. Should be another good test.
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