Celtics Look to Bounce Back vs the Bucks at Home

Milwaukee Bucks (25-38)  at  Boston Celtics (46-17)
Sunday,  March 13
6:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #64,  Home Game #34
Radio:  WEEI, WTMJ
TD Garden\
Referees:  Ken Mauer,  Leroy Richardson, Gary Zielenski 
This is the 3rd and final meeting between these two teams and the second game between them in a week.  The Celtics won in Boston 105-102 and in Milwaukee 89-83 a week ago.   In that game, the Celtics had just 9 players available and Bogut was out for the Bucks.

The Celtics are expecting to get a boost from Big Baby's return to active duty in this game.   They need a boost of something after two very lackluster performances in the 2 losses leading up to this game.    Big Baby's return could begin the process of getting healthy and solidifying their playoff roster.  Delonte West is expected back next week.  Shaq and JO should be getting close as well.  Their returns can't come soon enough with Chicago now tied with the Celtics atop the standings right now.

The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games and 27-6 at home.  Every one of those 6 losses have come against Western Conference teams.  The Celtics are 19-0 at home against Eastern conference teams at home.  The Celtics have lost their last 2 games.  The Bucks are 5-5 in their last 10 games but have won their last 2 games. The Bucks have had some injury problems of their own and are playing better since the return of Andrew Bogut to the starting lineup.    The Bucks are 9-22 on the road.
The Celtics are in the midst of their 5th two game losing streak this season. They responded to their previous 4 two-game skids this season with winning streaks of 14, 4, 4 and 3. They haven't lost 3 in a row yet this season. The Bucks on the other hand are on their fourth 3 game win streak. They followed their previous three 3 game win streaks with losing streaks of 5, 3 and 4 games. The Bucks haven't had a 4 game win streak this season.

The Bucks are playing in the second of back to back games and are on the road.  The Celtics had one day off between games and are at home where they haven't lost to an Eastern Conference foe this season..    The Celtics have had 2 sub-par games and hopefully they snap back and put some effort into this one.   If they actually try and play with focus and energy,  they should be able to get the win.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Rajon Rondo vs Brandon Jennings

Shooting Guard

Ray Allen vs John Salmons

Small Forward

Paul Pierce vs Carlos Delfino

Power Forward
Kevin Garnett vs Luc Richard Mbah a Moute


Nenad Krstic vs Andrew Bogut

Celtics Reserves

Avery Bradley
Jeff Green
Carlos Arroyo
Troy Murphy
Sasha Pavlovic
Glen Davis

Jermaine O'Neal (knee) out
Glen Davis (knee) probable
Delonte West (ankle) doubtful
Shaquille O'Neal (Achilles) out
Von Wafer (calf) out

Bucks Bench
Keyon Dooling
Earl Boykins
Earl Barron
Chris Douglas-Roberts
Jon Brockman
Larry Sanders
Corey Maggette

Michael Redd (knee)  out
Drew Gooden (foot) out
Ersan Ilyasova (head) Day to Day
Corey Maggette  (knee)  probable

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Brandon Jennings
Jennings is a good young PG who is working to make a name for himself in the league.  Jennings has talked trash in every game against the Celtics.   He definitely got the best of Rondo in the last game with 23 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals in 4 turnovers to 6 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals and 8 turnovers.  Rondo hasn't seemed himself this past week.  It would be great if he would break out and be aggressive in this game.

Kevin Garnett vs Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
In their last meeting, Mbah a Moute scored 19 points and pulled down 7 rebounds.   KG had 14 points and 11 rebounds and a huge block to preserve the win.   KG has had 2 bad games in a row and I would expect him to bounce back in this one and play better on both ends of the court.

Honorable Mention
Ray Allen vs John Salmons
After playing exceptionally well during the 5 game win streak, Ray has put in 2 poor performances in a row.  Ray shot just 11-28 in his last 2 games.   The Celtics need Ray to bounce back and get back to his normal shooting percentage.  Ray had missed a practice with a sore knee  a week ago and hopefully the knee isn't still bothering him.  A big game from Ray would be very nice to see.

Keys to the Game

Defense -  With the trades and new players, the Celtics defense has slipped.  It seems as though teams get dunks and layups at will against the Celtics in recent games.  Teams are also getting open shots on the perimeter.   And it isn't just the new players.  Even when the starters are in, the defense just hasn't been there.    Defense wins championships and so they need to get back to that lock down defense, limiting teams to one and done and preventing any easy shots.   Big Baby's return should help, but every player has got to do his part in the help defense.

Energy and Hustle -  The Celtics have been playing like they are running in mud over the last 2 games.   They have to be more aggressive in going to the basket and chasing loose balls and crashing the boards.  Against the Sixers,  the Celtics simply did not play with any energy.  Several times players just stood and watched a loose ball go by without making any effort to go after it.  The Celtics must play with more energy and win the 50-50 and hustle plays.

Rebound - The Celtics must crash the boards to prevent the Bucks from getting second chance points.  With Bogut back, the Celtics have to make more of an effort to grab rebounds.     Rebounding is all about effort and when the Celtics put out the effort on the boards that effort seems to carry over into all the other areas of their game.

Work the Offense
- The Celtics offense has been off    The Celtics must move the ball and make the extra pass and find the open man.  The Celtics starters have been struggling to hit shots and offense is definitely off.  They have even been missing a large number of layups and shots in the paint.  They also have been playing a lot of "hero ball" instead of moving the ball and working the offense.    Tommy thought the problem was fatigue and it very well might be.  Or, it may be a lack of focus.  Whatever the problem, hopefully they can figure it out.

Official Report
Ken Mauer
Mauer has been a referee since the 1986-87 season and has officiated over 1,200+ regular season games, 70+ play-off games and 4 NBA Finals games. Mauer is very quick to call technicals and in one game, once ejected Doc less than 3 minutes into a game. In a recent Timberwolves game he might have set the record by calling 5 technicals in a 10 second span. Mauer was one of the refs charged with tax evasion and obstructing federal tax laws for receiving substantial taxable income from 1989 through 1994 and failing to declare it. He was one of the refs in the controversial Miami/Dallas Finals where the foul calls were totally lopsided, giving the Heat the title. For the most part the games he has called this season for the Celtics have been well officiated. The Celtics are 4-1 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Mauer officiating. The Bucks are 4-6 with Mauer in their last 10. His home W/L record is 30-20.

Leroy Richardson
Richardson has officiated 640+ regular season games and 3 playoff games. He has also taken part of the 2003 All-Star Weekend, refereeing the NBA All-Star Saturday Game. Richardson served 12 years in the United States Navy before beginning his career as a referee. The Celtics are 4-0 with Richardson as an official this season. The Celtics have an 8-2 record in their last 10 games with Richardson as a referee. The Bucks are 4-6 in their last 10 with Richardson. He is definitely not a homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 23-30.

Gary Zielinski
Zielinski has officiated over 285+ regular season games. He has not yet made it to the playoff pool of referees. He worked 6 years in the CBA and 4 seasons in the WNBA before coming to the NBA. He officiated the WNBA finals from 1998-2001. The Celtics are 4-0 in games called by Zielinski this season but in one of those wins, the Clippers had a 20 free throw advantage over the Celtics and the officiating was terrible.  The Celtics are  9-1 in their last 10 games with Zielinski on the court while the Bucks are 6-4 in their last 10.   His home W/L record is 30-20.

Focus and Home Court
The starters are clearly fatigued from playing too many minutes since the trade.   Can the Celtics bring an extra level of focus to the game in order to combat the fatigue?  The Celtics will be at home again and hopefully the home crowd can give them enough of a boost to pull out the win.