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Celtics/Bucks: Preview

Celtics (51-13, 22-8 road, 1st East) @ Bucks (23-42, 17-15 home, 13th East)

Gametime: 7:30 PM CT
TV: FSN Wisconsin/League Pass/NBA LP Broadband
Radio: 620 WTMJ/Stream Free @ NBA.com

Bucks Stats: Offense 20th (102.3 pts/100 poss), Defense 30th (109.3), Rebounding 17th (.502 rr), Pace 16th (93.6)
Celtics Stats: Offense 10th (107.7 pts/100 poss), Defense 1st (95.5), Rebounding 6th (.513 rr), Pace 19th (93.4)

Bucks Lineup: Mo Williams / Michael Redd / Desmond Mason / Charlie Villanueva / Dan Gadzuric
Celtics Lineup: Rajon Rondo / Ray Allen / Paul Pierce / Kevin Garnett / Kendrick Perkins

Bucks Injuries: Andrew Bogut is not expecting to play after sitting out of practice on Friday with thigh soreness. Mo Williams is day-to-day with an inflamed abdomen. Yi Jianlian is also day-to-day with lingering wrist and ankle injuries. Desmond Mason is day-to-day with a hyperextended right knee.
Celtics Injuries: Ray Allen left last night's game against the Jazz after jamming his left ankle and is day-to-day. Scott Pollard is out after undergoing surgery to repair a torn tendon in his left ankle.

07/08 Series: 1-0 Celtics. The Celtics beat the Bucks 104-82 in Boston on Dec. 14.

Key Points:

  • The Celtics had their 10-game winning streak snapped last night 110-92 at home last night against the Jazz. Kevin Garnett led the Celtics with just 15 points. Paul Pierce shot 1-7 and turned the ball over five times in 36 minutes. The Jazz were coming off a much more narrow 114-110 win over the Bucks.
  • Ray Allen played only 12 minutes against the Jazz last night before leaving the game with a jammed left ankle. Doc Rivers isn't sure whether Allen will play, saying Allen would have to be extremely healthy to play tonight. Bucks fans often look back on Allen's time in Milwaukee fondly, and for good reason. Then again, Allen's numbers in his final season with Milwaukee are actually pretty similar to Redd's this year:

    Allen 02/03: 21.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 43.7 % shooting, 39.5 % three pointers, 91.3 % free throws
    Redd 07/08: 23.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 44.8 % shooting, 36.3 % three pointers, 82.4 % free throws

    Comparing the two this season is probably a more reasonable exercise, but also difficult because of teammate differences. Allen of course is scoring less, but winning a lot more. Allen scored a lot but didn't win much the last couple years in Seattle, and it's unlikely that if we had Allen instead of Redd that things would have been much different this season.

  • Maybe Charlie Villanueva had reason to want to start after all. Maybe not. Before the season, I argued in favor of Villanueva starting at the four spot, but conceded that he performed better off the bench than as a starter. This season, Villanueva is playing better as a starter than off the bench, but the splits aren't so different. He's shooting 43.8 % from the field as a starter compared to 43.7 % off the bench. He's also scoring (.50 points/minute to .47 points/minute) and rebounding (.26 to .24) at a higher rate, but nothing overwhelming. Also curious is that Villanueva, who seems pretty up-and-down in general, is actually strikingly consistent shooting from the field on a monthly basis:

    November: 44.7 %
    December: 44.1 %
    January: 44.4 %
    February: 43.3 %
    March: 44.0 %

    So it turns out that Charlie Villanueva of all people is pretty much the same player (at least shooting the rock) starting, coming off the bench, and throughout each month. His production, like most players, does fluctuate on a weekly basis though. Currently, he's riding one of his best five-game streaks of his life, averaging 24.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks on 48.5 % shooting from the field.  

  • The Bucks are soon going to fill their Celtics quota for the season. After playing them just once in the first four and a half months of the year, the Bucks play the Celtics three times in the final month of the season, starting tonight. The Bucks also play 16 of their final 17 games against Eastern Conference teams. Their only opponent from the West isn't really from the west either; they finish their season in Minnesota against the Timberwolves on April 17.
  • We haven't heard any Glenn Robinson-to-Boston rumors yet, but old friends Ray Allen and Sam Cassell are making title pushes for the Celtics. This game has plenty of buzz in Milwaukee for a mid-April contest between a first-place team thinking more about the playoffs and a last place team that has won once in the past two weeks. It's St. Patricks Day weekend, and the new-look Celtics are visiting the Bradley Center for the first time, reason enough to make this an event. Allen and Cassell add another storyline and of we've got the bag revolt. Perfect time for a win.
  • The Celtics ran off ten straight before falling last night, but their hot streak was overshadowed by the Rockets' historic 21-game win streak, which last night put them ahead of the Bucks' 20-game win streak during the 1970-71 season. John McGlocklin talks to Bucks.com about big winning streaks. As a member of the team that won 20 in a row for the Bucks and stopped the Lakers from winning their 34th consecutive game, he offers expertise on the subject.

    "When I was a player and a team with a winning streak came to play us, I didn’t want to be another notch on their belt," McGlocklin said. "You don’t want to be a part of the group that they’ve beaten. If I were a coach, I would think that’s something you could use as motivation."

  • On a per possession basis, this games pits the NBA's best defensive team (Celtics) against the worst (Bucks). So how many points will be scored in a game featuring the unmoveable object against the, umm, moveable object? Well, the over/under is 204.0, which is 18 points more than the teams combined for the first time around.
  • CelticsBlog has more, including a game preview Q & A with our own Frank. Also check out the excellent Green Bandwagon, Loy's Place, Red's Army, the Boston Globe, and the Boston Herald.