Just eight days ago, the Bucks shocked the Boston in the Celtics’ home opener by defeating them 99-88. The final score doesn’t tell the story of that game because the Bucks had total control of that contest from the opening tip-off. That game alone put hope in the hearts of Bucks fans that this could be a different year where we’re no longer the team that has opponents shrugging their shoulders at when they see us on the schedule. Since that game we’ve seen Brandon Jennings launch an improbable game-winning three against the Cavs, an awful offensive showcase against Memphis, and a sloppy victory over the beaten down and win-less Wizards.
Meanwhile the Celtics currently sit at 2-3 after falling to the 76ers Friday, but they are going to be out for blood tonight at the BMO Harris Bradley Center against Milwaukee. The Celtics are a hypercompetitive bunch — especially Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo who could be the most intense duo in all the NBA. KG has always been a thorn in the side of the Bucks, while Rondo recently stated in an interview that he isn’t out there to make friends but to compete. Rajon has channeled that competitve spirit to start the season averaging 16 points and 12.5 assists while the “Big 3″ in general has had solid starts to the season. Why are the Celtics below .500 again?
Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee, Paul Pierce, Jared Sullinger/Brandon Bass, Kevin Garnett
Bucks: Brandon Jennings**, Monta Ellis, Tobias Harris, Ersan Ilyasova, Samuel Dalembert
** Assuming that Jennings doesn’t get the hook from the NBA for his shove of Bradley Beal yesterday.
As an outsider I really have no idea, but I still fear that this Celtics squad could take their anger out on Milwaukee. The Bucks are 3-1 but are still flawed — they just committed 21 turnovers against Washington and you better believe that Rondo will feed off of that like a rabid wolverine. The Jennings/Rondo match up will a key matchup because Jennings truly has improved this season and tonight will be a big test for him to prove whether this first week is reality or just an aberration.
Monta Ellis is looking to build off of his solid shooting performance in Washington (8-15 from the field) against a solid defender in Courtney Lee who could give Ellis difficulty. Could Friday night’s performance be a sign of things to come for Ellis, or will Lee’s work defensively fluster Monta and make his .326 shooting percentage even worse?
Tobias Harris has struggled at times as a starter, but his one complete game came in the opener against Paul Pierce. Will he be able to dig up another gem versus the future Hall of Famers?
Larry Sanders has really made a 180 turn in my eyes since I basically wrote him off in my September article where I wrote about the PF situation. He still fouls guys like crazy but also uses that reckless nature to be a blocking machine (3.0 BPG) and to be great on the boards. But out of nowhere, he has put together a solid offensive game with an absolute ridiculous true shooting percentage (.706) which stacks up there with the best in the entire league. While Sanders is still coming off of the bench he’s still by far the best front-court player on this team at the moment.
Well I don’t practice Santeria and I don’t have a crystal ball, but if I had a million dollars I’d bet that Sanders should have a great game tonight because Boston’s front-court is still trying to figure themselves out. Garnett is still a solid player but isn’t the player he used to be and when he does leave the court than Sanders shouldn’t have problems against the likes of Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger.
Overall, I think this should be a very competitive game and will be interesting to see how the Bucks can contain a Celtics team that should come out of the game fierce and looking to prove a point. That battle and much more will be taking place tonight at the BMO Harris Bradley Center at 7:30 PM.