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Bucks/Celtics: Preview

Bucks (9-12, 2-10 road, 9th East) @ Celtics (18-2, 11-0 home, 1st East)

Gametime: 6:30 PM CT
TV: FSN Wisconsin/League Pass/NBA LP Broadband
Radio: 620 WTMJ/Stream Free @ Gameday

Bucks Stats: Offense 16th (101.7 pts/100 poss), Defense 27th (106.6), Rebounding 9th (.510 rr), Pace 19th (93.5)
Celtics Stats: Offense 6th (107.7 pts/100 poss), Defense 1st (91.7), Rebounding 1st (.531 rr), Pace 18th (93.6)

Bucks Lineup: Mo Williams / Michael Redd / Desmond Mason / Yi Jianlian / Andrew Bogut
Celtics Lineup: Rajon Rondo / Ray Allen / Paul Pierce / Kevin Garnett / Kendrick Perkins

Bucks Injuries: Michael Ruffin is out another week or so with a fractured wrist. David Noel is out at least a month with a wrist sprain.
Celtics Injuries: Kendrick Perkins is day-to-day with a bum toe. Scot Pollard is day-to-day with back spasms. Ray Allen has been missing practice to rest a sore ankle but is expected to play.

Key Points:

  • Larry Krystkowiak talks to about facing the C's.
  • So how do you beat these guys? Looking at their two losses isn't terribly instructive. Their last loss was nine games ago in Orlando, when they shot 53% and grabbed 13 more rebounds than the Magic; only a -13 free throw differential ended up doing them in as they couldn't complete a furious comeback. Their first loss to Cleveland required 38/13 from LBJ and they still made it to OT.
  • Bogut will likely draw the task of guarding Garnett in the post, and as with Howard on Wednesday he'll need to contain KG without too much double-team help. Good luck with that, Andrew. The Bucks will probably roll occasional help down but he's too smart to play only one way. KG is "only" averaging 19 ppg but that's largely because he's shooting much less. Still, his .552 fg% shows he's been incredibly efficient when he does.
  • Allen is also contributing 19 ppg but only shooting .408 from the field, while Pierce is scoring 20.5 ppg and adding 5.5 rpg and 5.3 apg. Redd will draw the assignment of guarding his former mentor, so hopefully he rises to the occasion. In his career Allen has played the Bucks four times, scoring only 17.8 ppg while averaging just 1.8 apg and 1.8 rpg.
  • The Celtics are the best rebounding team in the league, but while they lead in defensive rebounding rate they are only 21st in offensive rebounding rate. That's not a huge problem when you're among the most accurate shooters in the league however (2nd at 52.8% eFG%). Garnett is their best rebounder, so the Bucks could open up some of their own second chances if Yi is able to draw Garnett to the perimeter defensively.
  • Kendrick Perkins is questionable after missing the last game with a toe injury. But rookie Glen Davis filled in just fine on Wednesday, dropping in 16/9.
  • Rondo is shooting 53% from the field and has a 3:1 assist/to ratio. But he's also gotten to the line just 33 times in 20 games and made just 49% of his attempts from the charity stripe. He's not a threat from deep, so the Bucks will probably go under screens and dare Rondo to beat them with jumpers. That worked fairly well against Jameer Nelson last time out.
  • So what about the OTHER guys? The bench is always raised as the C's major question mark, but they have a number of guys who know their role and do it well. Eddie House has been Eddie House, scoring 8 ppg including 43% on threes in only 20 mpg. The hard-nosed James Posey is also scoring 8 ppg while shooting an eye-popping 49% from three in 22 mpg. The Bucks haven't defended the perimeter all year long, but to have any chance against the C's they'll have to do that.  
  • The Bucks will need contributions from everyone to win, including Yi Jianlian, coming off one of his best games of the season. This will be the first time he plays against the Celtics, who nearly drafted him before trading their 5th pick to the Sonics in the Ray Allen deal.

    "I like him," Rivers said of Yi. "I liked him before the draft. Didn’t love him. I wanted to trade him for a veteran. Danny and I went to California to watch him play, and you can’t question his skill."

    The Sonics then took Jeff Green, leaving the Bucks to take Yi. Though as we mentioned last week, Yi might have had Boston on his mind before the draft.

  • For more on the Celtics check out CelticsBlog, Red's Army, and Green Bandwagon.