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Celtics 102, Bucks 86: Recap

As they did on Tuesday, the Celtics again played their starters sparingly, but this time around the Bucks couldn't rally against Boston's second unit in dropping a 102-86 decision at the Garden. Rajon Rondo outshone the Big Three with 16 points, 10 assists and five boards in just 23 minutes, while Mike Redd needed 18 shots to get his team-leading 18 points for the Bucks. Charlie Villanueva DNP'ed because of a strained hammy.

Three Bucks

  • Awvee Storey. Much of Storey's production came deep into garbage time, but then again we probably shouldn't hold that against him considering the game was decided after about a quarter. In contrast to most of his teammates, Storey had no problem keeping his motor running all night, notching 12 points and seven boards in just 17 minutes. So to summarize: Storey stands out because he tried.
  • Ramon Sessions. Sessions seems to set a new career-high in something every game, and tonight was no different as he racked up 14 assists, the third time in four games he reached double figures. Unfortunately his ambitious passing night also led to five turnovers, nearly all of them on tough passes that he just couldn't pull off. Defensively, Sessions again didn't show that much intensity, and playing against Sam Cassell he seemed extra wary of being embarrassed by the wily old vet. Rather than more aggressively go after Cassell, Sessions was mostly content to concede jump shots. All told, Rondo and Cassell combined for 26 points, 14 assists, nine rebounds and four turnovers in 40 minutes.
  • Mike Ruffin. Typical hard-hat night from Ruffin, who grabbed nine boards and wasn't credited with a shot in 19 minutes of action. Unfortunately for the Bucks, it's tough to win games when Storey and Ruffin are two of the team's standouts.

Three Numbers

  • 4. On paper it seems somewhat bizarre that the Celtics won so comfortably while getting just four points from the line. But the Celtics' lack of action at the charity stripe mostly reflected the Bucks' lackadaisical defense, which sagged off shooters and offered little resistance to guys finishing around the hoop.  
  • 33. The Celtics finished with a staggering 33 assists on their 44 made field goals, accurately reflecting the ease with which the C's moved the ball around to open shooters. Of course, it also helps your assist numbers when the vast majority of your points come on made field goals.
  • 0. After racking up a disturbing 10 turnovers in Milwaukee on Tuesday, Andrew Bogut was mostly uninvolved offensively until the fourth quarter, when he scored eight of his 14 points. The one positive side to that: fewer touches helped Bogut avoid turning the ball over altogether.

Three Good

  • John Hammond. Midway through the game Jim Paschke gave the Bucks' official confirmation: Pistons VP of Basketball Operations John Hammond is the team's new GM. While there's much work to be done and plenty of questions to be answered, Hammond looks like an excellent choice.
  • Happy birthday, rook. Don't expect to see Sessions starting next November--he's clearly got a ways to go. But even while taking his lumps over the past week, the experience of playing real NBA minutes is nothing but a good thing. Sessions celebrated his 22nd birthday with another big assist night, helping further cement his role in the rotation next year.
  • Journeymen getting after it. Don't blame Storey, Ruffin or Royal Ivey for the lax attitude the Bucks brought into Boston on Friday. What little energy the Bucks did bring to the game was mostly courtesy of their more well-traveled vets. And while these guys aren't particularly suited to being major parts of an NBA rotation, as a fan it's hard not to appreciate their intensity at this stage of the season.

Three Bad

  • No contest. Here's another game where the +/- ratings really tell the story. Despite playing less than 25 minutes apiece, the Celtics' starters each had a differential +10 or greater, indicative of the easy time they had dominating the Bucks' best unit. Rondo led the way with with +21, while the Bucks' had only one sterter (Gadzuric's minus-7) avoid double-digit negatives.
  • Look alive, fellas. With plenty of jumpers early in the shot clock (how about an occasional post look to Bogut?) and minimal defensive intensity, it seems evident that these guys will be glad to have the season over with. It doesn't seem like players are dogging it per se, but with nothing to play for there's obviously no urgency either. Guys clearly don't feel guilty putting up contested jump shots that might otherwise earn the ire of the coaches. Sessions for one does seem to enjoy moving the basketball around, and Redd especially seems to be focusing almost entirely on scoring now that he has a pass-first PG starting next to him. Is this a good thing? Who knows. It's very difficult to get a good read on what could work next year because guys seem fairly checked out.
  • Cousy's insight. I normally enjoy having Bob Cousy sit in on Celtics' telecasts--he's not nearly as biased and intolerable as Tommy Heinsohn--but he admitted on a few occasions that he really doesn't watch much basketball anymore. That showed after a Bogut layup when he said "I don't know if he's your starter, but he does some positive things on the court." Heinsohn and play-by-play man Mike Gorman then tried to clean up after Cousy a bit, going over Bogut's numerous strengths before Heinsohn finally said that there were very few big men like Bogut in the league. It's never a good sign when Tommy's the voice of reason.