By Patrick Whalen
The Celtics came into tonight looking to snap their 2 game losing streak against Giannis and the Bucks at the Garden. Once again the team was plagued by injuries as Al Horford missed his 7th straight game with a knee injury, Marcus Morris who was questionable with a knee injury missed his second straight game and Aron Baynes was ruled out for the next 4-6 weeks with a broken left hand that he suffered Wednesday against the Suns. The Celtics did however get Guerschon Yabusele back after missing 5 games with an ankle injury. But these injuries again forced Brad to mix up the lineup and he ended up going with Kyrie, Smart, Hayward, Tatum, and Ojeleye. Again the lack of frontcourt depth would hurt the Celtics as they had to try and slow down Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Offensively the Celtics were led by the two young Jays. Jaylen Brown had 21 points off the bench on 8-14 shooting to go with 7 rebounds and 4 steals and this poster dunk on Giannis.
Also that technical foul on Jaylen for flexing is a complete joke, especially seeing how ESPN features Giannis flexing on their commercial for when ever the Bucks are playing on ESPN and Giannis never gets T’d up for that so why should Jaylen. The other Jay, Jayson Tatum had 20 points on just 5-15 shooting with 5 rebounds. Kyrie struggled shooting as he was just 7-20 from the floor but still managed to have a above average night with 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists including plays like these.
Hayward and Ojeleye were also in double figure with 11 and 10 repectively. The Celtics team wise struggled mightly shooting on the night going a messily 39% from the floor and 29% from downtown (Basketball-Reference.com).
The Celts were able to jump out to a quick 10-1 lead early in the first quarter but after that it was all Milwaukee. By the end of the first quarter the Celtics trailed by 13 points and then trailed 65-48 at halftime. The Celtics were able to chip away in the second half but could never seem to cut the lead back down to single didgits as the Bucks would end up leaving the Graden with a 120-107 win for their 22nd of the season.
The Bucks offense was firing on all cylinders, led of course by the Greek Freak who had 30 points on 8-13 shooting and 13-17 from the foul line to go along with 8 rebounds and 5 assists. Kris Middleton despite cooling off in the second half still had 21 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Eric “Drew” Bledsoe also had an efficent night with 16 points on 7-9 shooting. Malcom Brogdon also chipped in 10 points and 9 rebounds. But the killer for the Celtics was the performances by Thon Maker and Tony Snell off the Milwaukee bench. Maker had 12 points on 4-5 shooting from three and Tony Snell was a perfect 6-6 from the floor including 3-3 from deep for 15 points on the night. The Bucks were just able to outshoot the Celtics as they shot 51% from the floor and 40% from three point range (Basketball-Reference.com).
Again the Celtics lack of depth upfront showed as they were destroyed on the glass for the second straight game. This time the Buck out rebounded them 55-36 in total rebounds. The offensive rebound battle was not nearly as bad as it was against the Suns as the Bucks only out rebound the Celts on the offensive glass 11-9. Also a big factor to the Buck getting so many rebounds was the insane amount of missed shots by the Celtics, 56 to be exact (Basketball-Refernce.com). I really do not know what is up with this team. I understand they have injuries but even with injuries last year this team still grinded out games and was competitive. This year if there is more than two guys out who play meaningful minutes this team seems to struggled to pull out a win against anyone. This team just seems to think that teams are still scared of them. Right now if I were the Bucks, Sixers or Raptors I would not be fearing the Celtics like they did last year. This team just does not play with the grit, fire, and determination they had last year after Gordon and Kyrie went down. This team in my opinion just needs some better communication especially after tonight where you saw switches and over rotations leading to some wide open shots from the Bucks. Also, this team needs to be stronger going to the rim. I’ve been noticing, and it was definitely a theme tonight, that the Celtics love driving to the basket and kicking out to the three point line. For guys like Gordon, Kyrie, and Jaylen sometimes you just need to take the contact and make your two foul shots rather than avoiding the contact and going for the kick out or the circus layup.
The Celtics next game will be at the Garden again on Sunday against the Hornets. They lost in Charlotte earlier this season on November 19th down in Charlotte. In that game Kemba Walker followed up a 60 point game with 43 against the Celts as the Hornets were able to pull out a 117-112 win. Al Horford and Marcus Morris are both listed as probable for Sundays game as both have been seeing improvement with their respective knee injuries (NBC Sports Boston). This boost down low could be just the thing the Celtics need to get back on course as they try and go for win number 19 on the season Sunday and of course the Celtics will also be apart of the Christmas day festivities as they will be taking on their rivals the Philadelphia 76ers at 5:30 on ABC. They will be the third game in the Christmas day line up that starts with Bucks v Knicks, Thunder v Rockets, then the Celtics Sixers, followed by Lakers v Warriors and finishing off with Jazz v Blazers. But of course lets not get ahead of ourselves, lets handle business on Sunday against the Hornets so we can all get a Christmas eve eve present then we’ll focus on trying to get a Christmas day present.