Ray Allen and Paul Pierce hit their free throws down the stretch to ice the victory. Nate Robinson rubs salt in the Bucks' wounds with a late 3, and the C's send a message: If these two teams do in fact end up meeting in the first round of the playoffs, the Bucks had better watch out.
Pierce finishes with 24 points, Allen adds 21 and Rondo has himself yet another double-double, 15 points and 10 assists. A solid win for the Celtics at the Bradley Center.
Fourth quarter, 1:02, Celtics 95-86: Two clutch free throws from John Salmons. The Bucks are not dead yet — they're just really, really close.
Time for Brandon Jennings to come to life and make it rain 3s. Either that, or the Bucks can fold up shop and go home.
Fourth quarter, 2:22, Celtics 92-82: What in the world is going on between these two teams? Now it's Jerry Stackhouse and Paul Pierce exchanging some unpleasant words, and Scott Skiles gets ejected for sticking his head in the middle of it all.
The C's get two free throws out of it, thanks to the double technical on Skiles, and Ray Allen hits both. The lead is once again in double digits, and the Bucks are very unhappy about it.
Fourth quarter, 2:35, Celtics 88-81: Tempers are flaring between Glen Davis and Kurt Thomas. It's up to Doc Rivers to be a calming influence on this Celtics team down the stretch.
If they can keep their heads on straight and remain focused on the task at hand, the Celtics should be able to finish the job in Milwaukee. But with this Celtics team, you can never take wins like this for granted.
Fourth quarter, 3:10, Celtics 88-81: The difference between Rajon Rondo and Brandon Jennings in this game? Sharing the basketball.
Rondo now has eight assists tonight; Jennings has one. The Celtics are moving the ball well and getting smart shots; the Bucks, meanwhile, are living and dying with the 3-ball.
If not for a couple of clutch shots from Jennings and Carlos Delfino, this game would have been over a long time ago.
Fourth quarter, 6:29, Celtics 82-72: Two more free throws for Rajon Rondo, and the C's have a double-digit lead for the first time tonight.
If the C's can finish this thing off and win by 10-plus points without Kevin Garnett, it would be a big statement win for the Celtics against a Bucks team they might well face in the first round of the playoffs. With KG, things are only going to get easier for the C's.
Fourth quarter, 9:17, Celtics 75-70: Ersan Ilyasova picked a really good time to finally knock down an open shot from the outside after missing his first four attempts.
The C's had an eight-point lead and the Bucks could feel this game start to slip away, but Ilyasova's jumper breathes a little bit of life into them at a key moment.
The Bucks had better get stops in these next couple of possessions, though. The C's are resting their starters for crunch time and they're bound to come back strong; if the Bucks can't slow down the second unit now, they'll never get back in this game.
End of third quarter, Celtics 68-65: Remember last summer, when there were quiet rumblings about the Celtics possibly, just maybe, having interest in Jerry Stackhouse?
It would have been interesting. Stack may be 35, but he's far from done — he's a versatile scorer with the ability to knock down the outside shot or drive the lane and make some noise. He's exactly the kind of player the Celtics bench has been lacking.
The Celtics, without a Stackhouse type on their bench, are forced to leave Paul Pierce out there and let him carry the offense. Pierce is now 7-of-12 from the floor for 16 points — life could be a lot worse than having the Truth lead the way.
Third quarter, 2:59, Celtics 60-59: I swear, I could just watch Brandon Jennings and Rajon Rondo duel all day. There's nothing better.
Each point guard is taking matters into his own hands, driving the lane and scoring at will when his team needs it. It's such a great matchup — Rondo is the better athlete, but Jennings has a wider scoring range and a deadly jump shot, even when contested.
Jennings has 16 points to lead the Bucks; Rondo leads the C's with 12.
Third quarter, 6:05, Celtics 52-49: Can't tell you how many times this season Rajon Rondo has turned it on in the third quarter and decided to become the go-to guy offensively. Lost count a long time ago.
It's like he keeps it bottled up for the whole first half, only to turn it on when the C's really need it. Reminds me of a poor man's LeBron James — distributes, gets his teammates involved early, then takes over late.
It's a lot of fun to watch. We might see a lot more games like this in the playoffs.
Third quarter, 9:11, Celtics 46-42: Ladies and gentlemen, the Celtics have their largest lead of the night: four.
Credit the entire team for stepping up defensively — Sheed is giving the extra effort switching from Kurt Thomas to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Perk is staying strong down low, and the C's perimeter guys are limiting open jumpers.
This is the kind of defense the Celtics are capable of playing for 48 minutes. Maybe once the playoffs roll around, they'll wake up and do it.
Halftime, Celtics 41-40: Doc must have said something to these guys in a timeout about getting out on the wings and defending the 3 because they're getting the job done now.
Sheed, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are leaping out on the wings and contesting shots, and the Celtics' defense has shined in the last couple minutes of the first half.
Pierce drives to the hole for a layup with one second to play, and the C's are leading for the second time tonight. Pierce put them up 2-0 to open the game, and now he puts them up 41-40. After trailing for almost all of this first half, the Celtics are officially back in business.
Second quarter, 3:02, Bucks 36-33: It's refreshing to see Rasheed Wallace in a discussion with an official that doesn't end in a technical foul being called. Doesn't happen often.
It's imperative for Sheed to stay out of foul trouble tonight with KG resting and Brian Scalabrine nowhere to be seen. Sheed's got to handle a lot of minutes himself.
He was doing fine in the first quarter, but here in the second he's picked up two in the past minute and a half. It's almost like something clicked in the guy's head and he thought, "Hey! I've gone way too long without hacking someone and then complaining about it!"
Sheed's human. He can only be deprived for so long.
Second quarter, 6:16, Bucks 29-26: This is shaping up to be one of those rare nights when the Celtics' second unit plays better than their starters.
Although considering KG is out, Rasheed is starting and the underrated Shelden Williams is coming off the bench, perhaps that shouldn't be such a surprise. Shelden and Glen Davis have looked strong defensively inside, and Tony Allen is making nice hustle plays on both ends of the floor.
The C's are hanging in there despite a pretty poor performance from their starting five.
Second quarter, 9:16, Bucks 24-21: Nate Robinson has shown that he's capable of driving and scoring. Can he do it more often?
When Nate gets aggressive and penetrates the lane, he's really difficult to stop. He's got the speed and the agility to be a really great scorer, but he's just so prone to settle for jumpers.
Driving layups like the one we just saw are nice, but we don't just see them that often. The lazy shot selection is just one of many flaws the C's need to fix in these final three games before the playoffs.
End of first quarter, Bucks 18-15: OK, so that's how it's going to be. The Bucks have taken 11 3-pointers in the first quarter alone, and they've shot their way into the lead, making four.
Key exchange comes with about two minutes to play in the first quarter — Nate Robinson comes up the floor, takes about two seconds to jack up a 3, rims out, gets back on D, then completely fails to guard Jennings, who hits a wide-open 3 of his own.
It's maddening to watch this team make the careless defensive lapses that they really shouldn't make in April. If the Celtics meet these Bucks again in the playoffs, they had better up the intensity
First quarter, 3:11, Bucks 15-9: After his ridiculous shooting spree in the final minutes against the Wizards last night, Nate Robinson has earned his way back into the rotation.
Only problem: He hasn't really done much yet. Robinson has had only one touch, and he launched a three and missed from the top of the key. The offense so far tonight has revolved around the chucking of Rasheed Wallace, and that's not exactly a recipe for success.
The Celtics' execution offensively just looks ugly. Part of that is no doubt the effect of KG sitting. All the talk is about his defense, but he also adds an intelligent, unselfish element to this Boston offense that's often overlooked. With Sheed on the floor instead, a lot changes.
First quarter, 6:15, Bucks 13-6: Someday, the Celtics might learn to defend better against the 3-point shot. Today is not that day.
Brandon Jennings has knocked down a pair of long bombs and John Salmons has added another. The Celtics need to make a better effort to get out on the wings and contest that shot — if they don't, the Bucks are just going to keep taking it.
How many shooters are going to light these Celtics up from outside before the C's decide to wake up and do something about it? In the past two weeks alone: Jeff Green, Chase Budinger, Sergio Rodriguez, Nick Young. That list is just going to keep growing.
First quarter, 8:56, Bucks 7-4: Surprise, surprise — with no KG in the lineup and Rasheed Wallace still not doing much in the low post, the Bucks are attacking down low.
Kurt Thomas is 37 years old but playing like he's 22. A couple of solid looks in the paint, and he's staked the Bucks to a nice lead early.
Andrew? Andrew who? Never heard of him. This is Kurt Thomas' team now.
8:15 p.m.: This just in: No Kevin Garnett against the Bucks tonight.
With the playoffs only a week away, Doc Rivers is starting to rest his starters to get them in better shape for the road ahead. That means KG will sit tonight, and Rasheed Wallace starts in his place.
It'll be one veteran backup big man against another, as Sheed matches up with Kurt Thomas, starting in the place of the injured Andrew Bogut. Interesting matchup.
2:15 p.m.: The Celtics are coming off an ugly loss against the Wizards on Friday night. Boston has dropped two of their last three and five of their last seven.
Yep, the Celtics are losing again, and their timing couldn't be worse. Just three games stand between the Celtics and the beginning of the Eastern Conference playoffs, and it's time for them to shape up before it's too late.
This is a potential preview of a first-round matchup in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The C's are going up against a Bucks team that's stayed strong despite losing Andrew Bogut, and they're angling for the No. 5 seed in the conference.
For the Bucks, this is a chance for a big statement win without Bogut, letting the rest of the league know they still mean business. For the Celtics, it's just a chance for a win. And at the moment, the C's could use one.