The Celtics, who ran the table last week against four Eastern Conference opponents, hit the road this week to take on another East opponent with a winning streak of its own. The Milwaukee Bucks have won three straight games themselves, and nine of their last 10. Most recently, they stuck it to the NBA-best Cleveland Cavaliers, beating them on Milwaukee's home floor 92-85.
Both the Bucks and C's are streaking into Tuesday night, but now one of them has to lose.
Tuesday, March 9, 8 p.m. ET (CSNE)
Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisc.
Celtics (40-21, first place in Atlantic Division, third place in Eastern Conference)
Bucks (33-29, second place in Central Division, fifth place in Eastern Conference)
The Celtics have won seven of eight games against the Bucks over the last three seasons and they're 1-0 against them this season. The C's won 98-89 in Boston on Dec. 8, surging ahead with a strong defensive effort in the fourth quarter. Kevin Garnett shot 9-for-13 in that game, finishing with 25 points, while Rajon Rondo added a double-double of 11 points and 13 assists.
Milwaukee has gone from teetering on the brink of the draft lottery to being a real Eastern Conference heavyweight in a matter of weeks. By going 9-1 in their last 10 games, the Bucks have vaulted up the conference standings and are now firmly entrenched in fifth place, right behind the Hawks. The Celtics are rapidly climbing up the ranks too, though, as they would be the East's No. 3 seed if the season ended today. Each of these teams is making a hard push to fortify its playoff position.
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Power forward: Kevin Garnett
Center: Kendrick Perkins
Point guard: Brandon Jennings
Shooting guard: John Salmons
Small forward: Carlos Delfino
Power forward: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
Center: Andrew Bogut
The Celtics are 18-14 this season against winning teams.
They have the fewest offensive rebounds in the league with 527.
Kendrick Perkins is shooting 10-for-15 from the field in March. His NBA-best shooting percentage is now at 61.6 percent.
Paul Pierce is shooting 43.9 percent from 3-point range this season, a career-best.
Rajon Rondo has 31 double-doubles this season. He ranks seventh in the NBA in that category. Dwight Howard leads the league with 50 double-double performances.
Ray Allen made four of six 3-point attempts against the Wizards on Sunday night. He is 8-for-15 from long range so far in March.
Kevin Garnett went 0-for-7 from the field against the Wizards, failing to hit a single field goal for the first time since January 1996.
The Bucks are 20-9 at home this season.
As a team, they've gotten to the free-throw line only 1,266 times this season, fewest in the NBA.
Brandon Jennings has 15.8 points per game this season. He's third in the NBA among rookies, trailing only Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry.
Andrew Bogut has 137 blocks this season, second-most in the NBA. Dwight Howard has 178.
Luke Ridnour is shooting 92.6 percent from the free-throw line this season, second-best in the NBA behind Steve Nash.
Charlie Bell is shooting 39.3 percent from 3-point range this season, a team-best.
In 10 games so far in a Bucks uniform, John Salmons is averaging 19.2 points and 3.3 rebounds.
Tony Allen played only two minutes Sunday night against Washington in his first game back from a bruised hip, but Doc Rivers insists that Allen is good to go moving forward.
Michael Redd underwent surgery on his left knee in January. He is out for the season.
In 1960, the Celtics finish their regular season with a 148-128 win over the Knicks at the Boston Garden. It is their 59th win of the season, a new NBA record at the time. That record would stand for a mere two years — Boston won 60 games in 1962 behind a career year from Tommy Heinsohn.
"We’re starting to form a little bit. The spirit is starting to get there. We’re vibrant."
–Kevin Garnett, in Monday's Boston Globe, on the change in the Celtics' attitude during their four-game winning streak
The drama came late in Boston's win over Washington.
A nice winning streak lifts the Celtics' spirits.
Ray Allen has been on the money.
Brandon Jennings helped the Bucks to a win over Cleveland.
Milwaukee has three meetings with Boston coming up.
Andrew Bogut steps up his game.
Tony Parker may return for the playoffs.
Shawn Marion's in it for the good of the Mavericks' team.
The Class of '96 has seen better days.
These aren't the same Bucks that Boston manhandled last season. This team has gained an explosive scorer in Brandon Jennings, and Andrew Bogut is a year older and a year stronger. These Bucks are a force to be reckoned with, and they've also become one of the league's most effective teams defensively. The Celtics will need smart possessions every time up the floor — no bad shots, no stupid turnovers, no game-altering mistakes. Efficient basketball will be key if the Celtics want to keep their four-game winning streak intact on the road.
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