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Bucks vs. Celtics Preview | Banged-up Bucks and Rondo-less Celtics look for first win

A day ahead of their home opener, the Bucks look to snatch their first win of the season in Boston against Brad Stevens and the rebuilding Celtics. The tough part: it looks like they'll once again have to do it without the services of Brandon Knight and Luke Ridnour.

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Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport
2013/14 NBA Season
(0-1, 0-1 road)
(0-1, 0-0 home)
November 1, 2013
TD Garden | Boston, MA
6:30 CT
FS Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ / Audio League Pass
Probable Starters
Gary Neal PG Avery Bradley
O.J. Mayo SG Jeff Green
Caron Butler SF Gerald Wallace
Ersan Ilyasova PF Brandon Bass
Larry Sanders C Vitor Faverani
2013/14 Advanced Stats
94.5 (18th) Pace 89.8 (26th)
87.8 (30th) ORtg 94.5 (28th)
95.2 (7th) DRtg 106.3 (17th)

Linkage: Celtics Blog | Red's Army | Bucks Game Notes | Celtics Game Notes

Points taken. Just when it appeared the Bucks were starting to get healthy, Luke Ridnour (back spasms) and Brandon Knight (strained right hamstring) were smitten down by injuries on Wednesday, leaving young Nate Wolters and Gary Neal to pick up the pieces in New York. And for now it appears they'll have to do it again tonight in Boston, as both Knight and Ridnour have been listed as doubtful for tonight's encounter with the rebuilding C's.

Knight had missed the last two preseason games with a bothersome left hamstring, but note that it was his right hammy that he tweaked in New York. There's been no suggestion yet that the injury is serious, but in my medicaly unqualified opinion he certainly didn't look like a guy who was going to be able to play basketball this weekend. Hopefully I'm wrong.

UPDATE: Per Sean Deveney of the Sporting News:

Wolters' NBA debut in New York was memorable if not particularly auspicious, as he struggled to cope with the Knicks' pressure early on before settling down as the game went on. His 30-minute, 3/12 shooting line (9 pts, 4 ast, 2 to) included a handful of bail-out jumpers (including one prayer that actually went in) and a couple of ballsy drives right at former defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler, but those ended up about as you'd expect (with the ball swatted into the first row). Still, his trial by fire could have gone worse. Meanwhile, Gary "Green Light" Neal became the de facto backup point guard and, in the midst of gunning 16 shots for 16 points, also had the decency to hand out five assists. Both struggled to get the Bucks into their offense quickly in New York, and the team generally seemed a bit spooked playing without a proven point guard against the Knicks' pressuring defense.

The Celtics of course know a thing or two about coping without a starting point guard, as Rajon Rondo has been relegated to coaching from the bench while rehabilitating from a torn ACL last spring. Defensive wizard Avery Bradley is the starter until he's ready to go, with combo gunner Jordan Crawford deputizing off the bench. It's not yet known when Rondo might be back, though the Celtics' rebuilding has many suspecting that Rondo will a) be given all the time in the world to return and b) could be on the trading block as soon as he's healthy. New coach Brad Stevens, GM Danny Ainge and Rondo himself are saying all the right things for now, but his future will likely be the dominant storyline of the C's season.

Celtics update. Boston dropped its opener in Toronto on Wednesday, erasing a 16-point deficit before falling to Rudy Gay and company. Some notes heading into tonight's game:

  • Combo forward Jeff Green was at his aggressive best starting at shooting guard (25 points), and figures to make an interesting matchup for the smaller O.J. Mayo to start the game.
  • I had no idea who Vitor Faverani was until about a week ago, but for those not in the know: yes, he's an NBA player. And yes, he started in the Celtics' season-opening loss to the Raptors, and yes, he did just fine, thanks (13 pts on 9 shots, 3 reb, 3 blk, 5 pf in 27 min).
  • Jared Sullinger did not play in Toronto due to a suspension for an off-court domestic violence incident (charges were dropped), but he'll be back tonight and it may impact Stevens' direction at the big spots. The former Butler coach prefers Sullinger with rookie Kelly Olynyk up front, and as a result it's possible they could bump Faverani and Brandon Bass to the bench unit.
Ersanity returns? Seeing his first game action since spraining his ankle on October 8, Ersan Ilyasova game off the bench to play 20 minutes in New York and finished with an encouraging 10 points on 5/6 shooting. He reported tweaking his ankle a couple times during the game, but no word yet about it preventing him from playing tonight. Bringing Ilyasova off the bench cut into John Henson's time against the Knicks, so I'm hoping we see Ersan return to the starting five tonight--especially against a Celtics team that doesn't have Carmelo Anthony to trot out at the PF spot.

UPDATE: Charles Gardner delivers good news: