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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics Preview: Wrapping Up a Road Trip

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

It was a long and winding road to get here (not really), but the Milwaukee Bucks have only one team standing between them and a return to Wisconsin. That team? The Boston Celtics.

Where We’re At

A late turnaround against the streaking Houston Rockets was what the Bucks needed to get back on track. But if not that, then a matinee matchup against the shorthanded New York Knicks was definitely what Milwaukee needed, as the Bucks cruised to a victory in the Big Apple and then ventured northeast for one last road matchup for this trip. There don’t appear to be any huge surprises on the injury list since yesterday; George Hill returned from a knee-related absence, while Wes Matthews entered the league’s health and safety protocols (get well soon, Wes!). Brook, Donte, and Semi Ojeleye also remain out.

As things stand, the Bucks are right where they want to be as we head into 2022, seemingly getting all the way through their early-season struggles. We’re still missing Brook Lopez and Donte DiVincenzo will come back soon, but the schedule between now and New Year’s Eve is highly favorable. Milwaukee is merely 1.5 games back from Brooklyn for the number one seed in the East, and it’s entirely possible that they usurp the top spot by the time the calendars flip. All without the team’s starting center for all but opening night. Not too shabby.

Speaking of shabby, hello Boston! Doddering around 0.500 for much of the year, the perennially-hyped Celtics have been a disappointment again this season, and there is no clear prescription for what ails the Boston basketball club. From CelticsBlog:

I’m getting increasingly tired of hearing about this team coming out flat, not giving full effort, and not playing with pride. I don’t have a problem with Udoka saying it. The team asked to be held accountable, so that’s what he’s doing. By the way, I don’t think Udoka has been perfect either. But he’s a rookie head coach and based on his resume and recommendations, I’m very willing to give him a lot more time to figure this out.

Even when we have both stars healthy, they are far too inconsistent to be considered major threats in the East. Part of that is simply a talent problem. There are a lot of good players on this team, but not enough great ones. To make the two star system work, you almost need elite level support players. Steph and Klay work in part because they have Draymond who is an elite 3rd guy. Giannis and Middleton didn’t win a title until they added Holiday. For one thing, Tatum isn’t on that MVP level (...yet?). For another thing, I love Marcus Smart as much as anyone, but I’m not sure he’s on that Draymond/Holiday level either.

Speaking of healthy stars, Jaylen Brown is expected to return to the lineup tonight, a welcome sight for Celtics faithful. Brown was struggling to throw off a lingering hamstring issue that took him offline last month, missing 8 games before coming back for 5, then missing another 5 before tonight. Marcus Smart (non-COVID illness) is also expected to be available, but wing Josh Richardson (health and safety protocols) is not.

Player To Watch

As with any team in the NBA, the Celtics will need to find someone – anyone! – who can get Giannis Antetokounmpo to pump the brakes. It’s not going to be Al Horford (it never was), it certainly isn’t going to be Enes Kanter Freedom, so...hey, why not Robert Williams? In his fourth year, the Celtics’ starting center has found a niche for himself, and there literally isn’t going to be anybody else up to the task of stopping Giannis. Marcus Smart is the only other candidate for the job, and he’ll be needed on the perimeter so...yeah, Giannis should have another notable game in this one, unless Time Lord can tap into something we haven’t seen before.


Game 29: Against Boston, the Bucks will...

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  • 34%
    Win big (by 10 or more points)
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  • 51%
    Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
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  • 10%
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    (13 votes)
  • 3%
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