Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse... except for Thanasis Antetotkounmpo, because he just can’t believe he’ll be there to see the Milwaukee Bucks get to take on the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day in front of the entire nation!
Where We’re At
For the first month or so of the season, these two teams appeared to be frightfully titanic: Milwaukee began the year 9-0 sporting a revitalized defense, Boston fired off the best offensive numbers of any team ever in NBA history, and Adam Silver was salivating at his luck. Then both teams began to slip.
The Bucks have gone 1-2 on a road trip that continues in Boston. Since that 9-0 start, they’ve gone 13-10 with the league’s worst road offense and some decidedly pedestrian showings. They dropped their last game Friday night to the Nets 100-118 and never looked capable of digging their way to victory after an early deficit.
Boston still has the best offensive rating in the league at 117.6, but after reaching an 18-4 record they’ve lost 2 of their last 7, although they righted the ship against the Timberwolves last night, and the ORtg declined to a more pedestrian 107.1 in that span. That would place them dead-last league-wide. Their early success was stunning if only because it happened in the face of organizational strife, with the year-long suspension of head coach Ime Udoka shortly before the start of the season and the elevation of Joe Mazzulla to the top spot. Jayson Tatum (30.5 points on .471/.354/.858, 8.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists) has sustained the outstanding output he achieved in the back half of last season, and Jaylen Brown (26.5 points on .488/.329/.807, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists) has mostly held up as a second star. Al Horford hasn’t turned to dust yet and is hitting 44.8% of his three-point attempts. Frenemy Malcolm Brogdon hasn’t shattered into pieces yet either and is filling his sixth-man role off the bench well hitting 44.3% of his own threes. Their defense is also top-10 and features a long list of dudes who are just straight-up pains in the ass to deal with. Will Milwaukee’s offense come to life anyways?
Khris Middleton appears questionable with his continuing knee issue, and Robert Williams is listed as a game-time decision due to illness.
Player to Watch
Ever since the playoffs one of the great confounding questions around the Bucks revolved around whether Grayson Allen having an extremely rough go of it in the ECSF was ephemeral or something structural. His numbers have been down over the past five games, although he continues to hit threes at the best rate in his career (41.1%), and it feels like his on-ball defense has been solid enough to at least make him unremarkable on that end. Will the Celtics simply run enough screens to force the dreaded Allen-Tatum matchup on the perimeter, and if so, how does Grayson hang in there? And can he take and make a few threes to start the game in order to open up the paint for Giannis to drive?
Game 33: Against Boston, the Bucks will...
This poll is closed
Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)
The Milwaukee Bucks will tip off against the Boston Celtics at 4:00 PM (Central). All nationally televised NBA games can be watched on Sling TV.