Boston Celtics vs Milwaukee Bucks Preview and Predictions -03-12-2020
It’s a battle of a pair of the top teams in the Eastern Conference on the hardwood in Cream City. The Boston Celtics are on the road as they travel to face the Milwaukee Bucks Thursday night. Boston comes in off a 114-111 road win over Indiana in their last game Tuesday night and pushed as a three-point favorite. Milwaukee was dropped 109-95 on the road by Denver Monday night as a seven-point underdog in their last contest. The Celtics own a 110-105 edge in the all-time regular season series though the teams split two meetings this season. In the most recent matchup, it was the Bucks taking a 128-123 home win though the Celtics covered as an 11-point underdog on January 16.
Boston Celtics Seeking Back to Back Road Wins
Boston had dropped two straight and four of five before coming up with the win on the road over Indiana Tuesday. That victory clinched a playoff spot for the team. The Celtics entered Wednesday second in the Atlantic Division, three games behind the Raptors for the top spot. In the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the team is third, 9.5 games behind the Bucks for the conference lead. Boston led by eight after one quarter, by nine at the half, by 14 after three quarters and by as many as 19 in the game only to find the game tied in the final minute. Marcus Smart hit the go-ahead bucket with 49.9 seconds to go in the contest and the Celtics hung on. Boston shot 44.1 percent from the field, including 13 of 37 three-point attempts, and overcame Indiana shooting 49.5 percent in the contest. Jayson Tatum led Boston with 30 points in the win.
The Celtics enter this contest ranked 11th in the league in scoring offense with an average of 113 points per game this season. Boston is 9th in rebounding by pulling down 46 rebounds per contest and stand 25th in assists with 22.8 dimes per game. On the season, Boston is second in the league in scoring defense by allowing 106.8 points per contest. The Celtics are led offensively by Kemba Walker, who is second on the team as he puts up 21.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game on the year. Jayson Tatum puts up a team-leading 23.6 points plus 7.1 boards a night while Jaylen Brown (20.4 points, 6.4 rebounds), Gordon Hayward (17.3 points, 6.5 boards) and Marcus Smart (13.5 points, 4.8 assists) are solid contributors offensively. Boston is tied for 17th in the league in field goal percentage by shooting 45.9 percent from the floor as a team on the year. The Celtics are 12th in three-pointers per game as they drain 12.4 triples per night while they rank tied for 12th by hitting 36.3 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. Walker missed several games with knee soreness after the All-Star break but is back in action. Brown is out until mid-March with a hamstring injury.
Milwaukee Bucks Cruising in Eastern Conference
Milwaukee suffered their third straight loss as they were upended on the road in Denver without the reigning MVP. The Bucks entered Wednesday leading the Central Division by 14 games over the Pacers in the standings. In the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the team owned a 6.5-game lead over Toronto for the top spot in the conference. Milwaukee was down 15 after the opening quarter, trimmed the deficit to eight at the half and five after three quarters before getting outscored 33-24 in the final quarter to take the loss. The Bucks shot 37.8 percent from the field, including 15 of 50 from three-point range, and turned the ball over 17 times. Kyle Korver led Milwaukee with 23 points in the loss.
The Bucks are 1st in the league in scoring offense with 118.6 points per game on the season. Milwaukee is first in rebounding by pulling down 51.7 boards per contest while the team is 6th by dishing out 25.9 assists per game. The Bucks are 5th in the league in scoring defense as they allow 107.4 points per contest this season. Giannis Antetokounmpo leads Milwaukee with 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per contest this season. Khris Middleton chips in 21.1 points plus 6.2 rebounds a night while Brook Lopez contributes 11 points a contest. George Hill (9.6 points) and Eric Bledsoe (15.4 points, 5.4 assists) are solid secondary options. Kyle Korver, Robin Lopez, Wesley Matthews, Ersan Ilyasova and Pat Connaughton are solid pieces in the mix as well. Milwaukee is tied for second in the league in field goal percentage by shooting 47.7 percent as a team this season. The Bucks are fifth in threes per game by draining 13.7 triples per contest and stand 16th in three-point shooting by hitting 35.6 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. Antetokounmpo missed the last couple of games with a sprained knee and is questionable here.
The Boston Celtics are an American professional basketball team based in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league’s Eastern Conference Atlantic Division. Founded in 1946 as one of the league’s original eight teams, the team play their home games at TD Garden, which they share with the National Hockey League (NHL)’s Boston Bruins. The Celtics are one of the most successful teams in NBA history; the franchise has won the most championships in the NBA with 17, accounting for 23.9 percent of all NBA championships since the league’s founding.
The Celtics have a notable rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers, who have won 16 NBA championships, second behind the Celtics. The rivalry was heavily highlighted throughout the 1960s and 1980s. The franchise has played the Lakers a record 12 times in the NBA Finals (including their most recent appearances in 2008 and 2010), of which the Celtics have won nine. Four Celtics players (Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Dave Cowens and Larry Bird) have won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award for an NBA record total of 10 MVP awards. Both the nickname “Celtics” and their mascot “Lucky the Leprechaun” are a nod to Boston’s historically large Irish population.
The Celtics’ rise to dominance began in the late 1950s, after acquiring center Bill Russell in a draft day trade in 1956, who would become the cornerstone of the Celtics dynasty. Led by Russell and superstar point guard Bob Cousy, the Celtics won their first NBA championship in 1957. Russell, along with a talented supporting cast of future Hall of Famers including John Havlicek, Tom Heinsohn, K. C. Jones, Sam Jones, Satch Sanders, and Bill Sharman, would usher the Celtics into the greatest period in franchise history, winning eight consecutive NBA championships throughout the 1960s. After the retirement of Russell in 1969, the Celtics entered a period of rebuilding. Led by center Dave Cowens and point guard JoJo White, the Celtics returned to championship caliber, winning two NBA titles in 1974 and 1976. The Celtics again returned to dominance in the 1980s. Led by the “Big Three” that featured Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish, the Celtics won the 1981, 1984, and 1986 championships. After winning 16 championships throughout the 20th century, the Celtics, after struggling through the 1990s, rose again to win a championship in 2008 with the help of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen in what was known as the new “Big Three” era.
Following the win in 2008, general manager Danny Ainge commenced a rebuilding process with the help of head coach Brad Stevens, who led the Celtics to a return to the playoffs from 2015. During the following season, the Celtics clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference, but were eliminated in the Conference Finals. This prompted an aggressive rebuild in 2017, where the team acquired All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. However, the pair struggled with injuries throughout the 2017–18 season, and the team was again defeated in the Eastern Conference Finals.