It's not exactly the end of the world, but the Bucks' season has ended in a familiar fashion: not with a bang, but a whimper.
For the second time in 24 hours, Scott Skiles rested all of his starters save for Brandon Jennings, and for the second time in as many nights the Bucks came up short against a playoff team. Stop me if you've heard this before.
But cynicism (and a basic desire for winning) aside, this is all too often what NBA life looks like once a chance at the playoffs is gone. Departing for good with over seven minutes remaining in the third, Jennings struggled somewhat to 12 points (5/14 fg) before giving way to Beno Udih and the rest of the bench and/or youngsters.Tobias Harris once again started and performed well (7/13 fg, 16 pts, 9 rebs), while Jon Leuer also started for the second straight game and acquitted himself rather nicely (7/11 fg, 15 pts, 8 reb).
Other than that? Not much to write home about, and even Harris and Leuer's nice contributions were tempered by the general lack of rhythm / intensity / flow to a Bucks' offense missing Monta Ellis (hand), Ersan Ilyasova, Drew Gooden (back), Carlos Defino (groin), and Luc Mbah a Moute (knee). Facing one of the league's best defenses, the Bucks' leftovers didn't look particularly prepared to deal with the more disciplined Celtics, who forced 23 Milwaukee turnovers against a mere 17 assists.
With Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett returning to the lineup, Boston served up a serious-looking starting five but barely needed its firepower, using a 39-24 second quarter edge to bury the Bucks once and for all. Garnett played a mere 11 minutes and Paul Pierce hut his toe on a rather innocuous-looking jumper, but Rondo did what Rondo does, dishing out 15 assists in a mere 25 minutes while also taking just a single shot from the field in that span.
Harris made all six of his shots at the rim, most of them in transition, and also flashed his post abilities a couple times. In both scenarios he showed his now-familiar ability to use his body to create space and finish (often off glass), though he was less of a threat from the perimeter (0/5 from outside 15 feet). In other words, nothing we haven't seen from Harris before--which is a reason to be excited to see him in Vegas in July.
And with the season now officially over, the next (fun?) phase begins: a potential overhaul of the front office, coaching staff or both, the usual NBA draft fun / cluelessness, the madness of free agency in July and presumably a number of trades that could be in the works starting with the lead-up to the draft in late June. You can characterize the circumstances as unfortunate, but boring? Not a chance.