Fear the Dear.
The Bucks didn’t just win this game. They dominated. Protected the rim, set the tempo, played better defense, hit more outside shots. All of it.
Brandon Jennings outplayed Rajon Rondo by a fair margin. The Bucks outrebounded the Celtics by 10, and squashed every Boston rally before those rallies had any real traction. The game wasn’t even as close as the final score indicates; the Bucks were up 22 with 3:00 left in the game. The Celtics halved the lead from there. It’s okay to keep a lid on a good thing. Don’t let everyone know quite how good the Bucks were tonight. Shhh.
MVP: Brandon Jennings
If Jennings plays every game like this one, he will thank the Bucks this summer for the raise he eventually gets — whether it be from Milwaukee or some other team.
Jennings heisted a career-high six steals and scored 21 points. He captained a very efficient Bucks attack with 13 assists against just two turnovers. He also paced an offense that pummeled the Celtics inside.
The Bucks outscored the Celtics in the paint, 52-36.
It should be noted, too, that the defensive intensity shown by Jennings, when paired with a complete team effort of defensive rebounding, allowed the Bucks to play at a much faster tempo that the Celtics.
For one game at least, the speed dream lives on.
Other MVP: Larry Sanders
Normally, this space is reserved for a LVP, but in absence of any real LVP candidates (Ellis came closest with 6-20 shooting), we need to squeeze in an auxiliary MVP. Sanders was a force on defense and as a finisher, blocking two shots and making sure a bunch of other Celtic shooters saw little of the basket. He scored 10 points, nabbed 7 rebounds, and displayed an un-Larry-like ability to catch and score in the paint.
It would not surprise me at all for Sanders to play more minutes than Dalembert over the course of the season, while continuing to work from the bench. Sanders played 22 minutes in this game to Dalembert’s 16.
Other factors of note:
Kevin Garnett kept the Celtics within striking distance in the third quarter, scoring 10 straight points for the Celtics. But when he left, the Bucks stretched the lead even further.
In the first half, the duo of Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders owned the paint when they entered the game. They altered every shot that came inside their way and turned the Celtics into a jump shooting team. Boston obliged by shooting 5-23 shooting outside the paint in the first 24 minutes.
In the third quarter, Tobias Harris found a comfort zone while matched up against Paul Pierce. He bumped his way down low on an isolation postup turnaround. He swished a corner three-pointer. And inbounds the ball, he found Monta cutting down the lane. Tobias stepped inbounds, caught a touch pass back from Ellis, and dunked. Later in the quarter, he scored again over Pierce on the fast break, assisted on a behind-the-back pass from Jennings after a steal.
Harris finished the game with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He made two of his three three-point attempts, all taken from the corner. He also went to the defensive glass harder than I’ve seen him attack it in any game from last season or any preseason game this season. The effort earned him six defensive rebounds.
For one game at least, he was better than Paul Pierce. Make of that what you will.
Ersan Ilyasova started at the other forward spot. He scored seven points, gave up his body in an attempt to draw a number of charges (successfully getting at least two), and let all rebounders with 11.
Chris Wilcox set a hard pick — in the backcourt, no less — on Doron Lamb with six seconds left in the game. It hit Lamb on the left side, which is notable because that is the side of the elbow injury that kept him out of most of the preseason. On a related note, I have no use for Chris Wilcox.
Tweets of the game:
The Bucks are fast.
— Erin Garnett(@erinava) November 3, 2012
Sometimes extra words just aren’t necessary.
Tommy just said the Bucks can’t guard Jeff Green. I know we aren’t the best defensively but Jeff Green isn’t the one that will hurt us.
— Matt Cianfrone (@Matt_Cianfrone) November 3, 2012
There was a point in this game where I wanted to Bucks to flee from Jeff Green in every direction when he set up for a jumper. Just let him have those shots. They simply were not going to go in.
— Drew 2013 MVP Gooden (@DrewGooden4MVP) November 3, 2012
Final verdict: If they do this again tomorrow versus Cleveland, I’m buying in. It doesn’t matter the opponent. If they bring this kind of defense, and use it to push the tempo and get smart baskets, then yes, I’ll start to believe what I saw tonight.
Right now, I’m just a little bit speechless.