Game in Review: Milwaukee Bucks v. Boston Celtics – February 9

Feb 9, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) and Boston Celtics center Tyler Zeller (44) battle for a tipoff during the third quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 9, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) and Boston Celtics center Tyler Zeller (44) battle for a tipoff during the third quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

“Home Sweet Home” the saying goes, and it applied tonight as the Milwaukee Bucks dominate early, squeak by late against the Boston Celtics.

Starting Lineups – Milwaukee Bucks: O.J. Mayo, Khris MiddletonGiannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari ParkerMiles Plumlee

Boston Celtics: Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Jared Sullinger, Amir Johnson

As the All-Star Break looms on the horizon, it could really go either way for the Milwaukee Bucks as to whether they’ll put together some small winning streak or continue to sink down the standings as they wrap up a lost season. Digging their heels in against the Boston Celtics, winners of four straight, would prove to be as much of a challenge as any the team faced on their recent road trip which extended the losing ways to five-in-a-row.

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Oddly enough, head coach Jason Kidd decided to go with a totally revamped starting lineup trotting OJ Mayo out in place of Michael Carter-Williams (who had been playing very poorly as of late) and Miles Plumlee for Greg Monroe. Perhaps the thinking was to allow Monroe to get going offensively against Boston’s second unit.

The first quarter wasn’t exactly one to remember defensively as the Celtics got into the paint with ease, especially Avery Bradley as he moved with plenty of speed off screens to attack the rim, and Jae Crowder had zero issues with finding space often for a few easy jumpers to get himself going. Jabari Parker appeared to be a focal point on offense with a number of touches, including this coast-to-coast dunk:

At the end of the first, with the Bucks came roaring back thanks mostly to aggressive play credited to Giannis who led the second unit, the score lay in favor of Boston, but only by a margin of 30-26. Most figures favored Boston, who had hit 57.1% of their shots, assists on 10 of those shots, though five turnovers gave Milwaukee a much-needed boost to get back into things.

That theory on the part of Kidd to get MCW, Monroe, and Jerryd Bayless going off the bench appeared to be paying dividends with each breaking successfully into double digits scoring by half. Monroe in particular appeared on a mission (to get himself traded elsewhere, perhaps???) and shook off a rusty start to begin seriously banging down low. He often forced his way to rebounds, showed off plenty of post moves, and even pulled this out:

While Giannis sat on the bench after putting a nice first quarter together, Jabari appeared to benefit from a lineup that surrounded him with three shooters and Plumlee, giving him plenty of room to work one-on-one. He’d only go 3-9 by the break, but those nine attempts often came at the end of a comfortable sequence for Parker. Milwaukee would go into the half, down 53-54.

Jabari continued to push the pace in the third, and a set of possessions led by himself and Giannis seemed to get the team into a nice rhythm to grab a quick lead. Plumlee continued to do a fantastic job pinning his man in place off-ball on defense and avoiding being a clog on offense, all the things the Bucks need from him on a nightly basis.

For once, the Jabari-Giannis-Khris trio touted to be the core heading forward got a chance to fully run things offensively, and while there were some rough moments, on the whole, everything clicked in a way that should get a lot of fans excited about what the future should hold for this team if things continue to work out heading forward.

Greg would come back in once more with the second unit to continue a very impressive night, ending the third with 27 points (!!!), nine rebounds and the Bucks up big,  93-74.

The Bucks decided to be a bit sloppy given their large lead, and the Celtics started to get back into things by bits and pieces. This Giannis dunk helped offset things just a little bit as the Bucks attempted to close things out in a hurry early in the fourth with a series of body blows:

Great play on the part of the Celtics behind the scheme of head coach Brad Stevens brought things dangerously close as Boston snuck back into things. Where Monroe had given earlier, he seemed dead set on giving away now with a string of painful turnovers. The smooth lineups of earlier on disappeared, and a MCW-Bayless-Middleton-Parker-Monroe grouping just barely squeaked by after giving up a tying three to Jae Crowder. Monroe would come right back, though, and put up a final basket with :01.0 on the clock to grasp a lead.

Of course, Bayless would go on to shove Kelly Olynyk on an in-bounds to offer free throws to let Boston tie things up again, and a final Bucks chance resulted in a foul on Middleton, putting him to the line to ice things (thankfully) with free throws. Bucks escape, 112-111.

18. 112. 89. Final. 111

Catch the Bucks this Thursday evening as they host the Washington Wizards before the NBA heads into the All-Star Break!