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.
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.