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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics Preview: Showdown For First

Milwaukee has the inside track on the top seed in the East, and a win over Boston would all but wrap it up.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks might have been undermanned for much of the season, but to this point they have managed to post the best record in basketball this year. Tonight, their biggest competition in the conference – the Boston Celtics – will seek to reclaim that status and seize home court advantage in the rapidly-approaching playoffs.

Tonight should be fun.

Where We’re At

The Bucks triumphed in a barn-burner of a game over the Pacers, and their All-Star went off for over 50 points. Giannis was...wait, it wasn’t Giannis?

Jrue Holiday scored a career high (after missing the previous game in Detroit) 51 points, while Giannis put up a triple-double (38/17/12) in 32 minutes. Milwaukee has a 14-4 record since the All Star break and is leading Boston by 3.0 games (since the Bucks have three fewer losses than the Celtics). And! And! And the Bucks haven’t been at full strength yet! Khris Middleton sat out last night, presumably to be available tonight. Jae Crowder has been nursing a calf strain, making another major rotation player who hasn’t been fully online lately. Hopefully, tonight, Milwaukee is able to deploy their full roster.

Meanwhile, Boston is in an equal tier as Milwaukee when it comes to Contenders. They hit a bit of a skid at the end of February, and are not quite as dominant as their early season performance would suggest. Still, they’ve scored 120 points or more in 3 of their last 6 games, and seem primed for a late push to re-take the top spot in the conference. How? Per CelticsBlog:

In previous seasons, the Bucks have been known to dare teams to shoot from deep, placing more of an onus on defending their rim, yet this year, Milwaukee is among the best defensive teams in the NBA, including on the perimeter. As such, the Celtics may be doing well to move away from their heavily perimeter-based offense and look to mix things up more, especially if they can create gaps around the rim to attack off the drive.

Player To Watch

We’ve seen it time and time again, and we’ll probably see it tonight: Brook Lopez is the fulcrum around which the Bucks operate their systems. Giannis is the best player, but Brook might be the most important. His deterrence of shots in the paint and his offensive renaissance creates problems that most teams cannot solve, but between Al Horford and Robert Williams, Boston has two capable counters to Milwaukee’s front court. How will the Bucks handle the different pressures that each Celtic big puts onto them? No matter what, Brook will be at the center of it.


Game 77: Against Boston, the Bucks will...

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    Win big (by 10 or more points)
    (62 votes)
  • 62%
    Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
    (172 votes)
  • 11%
    Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
    (32 votes)
  • 3%
    Lose big (by 10 or more points)
    (10 votes)
276 votes total Vote Now