Going back to the beginning of the year, the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics were in the same boat. Both teams had young talent and were seemingly prepared to make the jump up in the Eastern Conference standings. However, that desire has came true for only one of the two teams, and it’s not the Bucks.
Boston currently sits at the no. three seed in the East, five games behind second seed Toronto and seven behind front-runners Cleveland. They are absolutely blazing through the month of February so far, winning nine of their last ten.
Eastern Conference All-Star Reserve Isaiah Thomas has been a major key to the Celtics’ recent success. In his last ten games, he is averaging 19.9 points along with over six assists per game.
Other players have helped ease the workload of Thomas as well. Over the last three games, Avery Bradley has gone 11-of-17 on threes and has been averaging 18 points. He also delivered a game-winning three as time expired against Cleveland. Tyler Zeller has found his groove down low in the post as well, going 14-of-18 from the floor in the last two games and totaling 33 points.
Boston comes into Milwaukee off of one of their most astonishing offensive efforts Sunday, a win over the Kings in which they shot 56 percent from the floor, along with 13 threes from beyond the arc.
That spells out trouble for a team like Milwaukee, whose defense has been porous in this season-high losing streak of five games. During that time, the Bucks have had significant troubles defending the perimeter against opponents.
The Celtics boast a 23-2 record when they hold an opponent to 98 points or less, a mark Milwaukee has had trouble breaking in its skid. The Bucks also committed 20 turnovers in Saturday’s 84-81 loss to the Jazz in Salt Lake City.
Khris Middleton accounted for nine of those giveaways. His shooting percentage has also fallen back to Earth in the five game losing streak, as it has plummeted from 47.0 percent over the previous 11 games to now 31.0 percent. Over those prior 11 games, he had been averaging 23.1 points. He will also look to rebound from his prior performance against Boston earlier this year, a game in which he went 3-of-12 from the floor.
The 99-83 loss Milwaukee suffered to Boston back on Nov. 10 at the Bradley Center ranks as the lowest point total the Bucks have put up at home. The Celtics have won two straight in Milwaukee and seven of the last ten.