Watch It! - Celtics a Bucks
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks meet at 8 p.m. tonight at TD Garden.
Celtics Without Rondo
The Celtics will be playing without Rajon Rondo tonight when they take on the Bucks in the second night of a back-to-back. Though Brad Stevens said Sunday night that Rondo will be playing in back-to-backs “very soon,” the restriction has not yet been lifted.
Boston has done a pretty good job of winning games without Rondo since he returned to the lineup on Jan. 17. He has missed three of the team’s 12 games since that date, and the C’s have gone 2-1 during those contests.
Phil Pressey has started at point guard in the three games that Rondo has missed and he is expected to do so again tonight. Pressey has played decent ball but it has been Jared Sullinger who has put the Celtics on his back during Rondo’s absence. Sullinger has averaged 23.0 points per game and 14.7 rebounds per game in those three Rondo-less games.
Take Free Throws and Make Free Throws
There’s something about Milwaukee’s mediocre defense that turns up Boston’s aggression. The Celtics have been in attack mode this season against the Bucks and that has led to a ton of trips to the free-throw line. They’ve attempted an average of 26.7 free throws per game against the Bucks through three meetings, which is their third-highest average against teams they’ve played at least twice this season.
Getting to the line at such a high rate is typically a recipe for success. The problem is that Boston hasn’t necessarily taken advantage of those opportunities at the charity stripe. The Celtics have shot just 72.5 percent from the line against Milwaukee this season. Upping that number to around 80 percent tonight would be a big step forward for them.
Milwaukee’s Limited Troops
Did you happen to catch the Lakers versus Cavs game on Wednesday? The game caught plenty of attention because the Lakers began the game with only eight eligible players and at one point were down to just four players.
We’re not predicting that this will happen tonight, but the possibility surely exists for a Bucks team that is riddled with injuries.
Seven of Milwaukee’s 15 players are currently listed on the injury report. Two of those players, Caron Butler and Carlos Delfino, are already termed as ‘out.’ Four more are listed as ‘questionable.’ The only player on the injury report who is listed as ‘probable’ is Luke Ridnour.
With all of this information taken into consideration, the Bucks could conceivably take the court with as few as eight players tonight… just like the Lakers did last Wednesday.
Bradley Back on Track?
Avery Bradley returned on Sunday from a one-game absence and scored five points in 19 minutes of action. He looked very rusty in his return, shooting just 2-of-13 from the field while not recording a single rebound or assist.
Bradley did not play in the fourth quarter on Sunday but that was not due to any issues with his troublesome right ankle. He’s healthy and will play tonight. Now the Celtics just need him to get back on track and find his offensive rhythm. Bradley is the team’s primary perimeter scoring option.
More Minutes for Johnson
Following Sunday night’s loss to the Mavericks, Brad Stevens said, “Maybe I should have played Chris Johnson more and earlier, and then we’d feel better about ourselves.”
That statement certainly may be correct when you consider the fact that Johnson scored 14 points in less than 15 minutes of action Sunday night. He was electric in the fourth quarter, shooting 4-of-4 from long range while scoring all of his points in the frame. Johnson finished the contest as Boston’s third-leading scorer despite his limited action.
The Celtics elected to sign Johnson for the remainder of the season because he has proven to be a commodity at both ends of the court. He showed those skills off again on Sunday and that’s why he may garner more playing time tonight.