After dismantling the Detroit Pistons last night, the Celtics continue their tour through the East’s Central division with a game against the Milwaukee Bucks tonight at TD Garden.
The Bucks also had a game last night, falling to the Portland Trail Blazers at home 90-76 to drop to 1-3 on the season. A trendy pick to grab a top four spot in the East, the Bucks have lost to the likes of the Minnesota Timberwolves and the New Orleans Hornets (and yes, I am aware of the Hornets’ hot start).
Here are some things to watch for tonight.
1) Rondo vs. Jennings: I’ve talked ad nauseam about Rondo’s play, but one thing I have failed to mention is that it has occurred against the likes of Carlos Arroyo and Ramon Sessions. Well, I think Brandon Jennings could be an adequate test for the on-fire Boston point guard tonight.
Jennings has the kind of speed to match up well with Rondo and he is the same type of do-it-all point guard for his team, as evidenced by his own triple double this past weekend. Jennings has the kind of game where he can put up big numbers in the scoring column, and he will easily be Rondo’s toughest defensive assignment of the season thus far.
2) Getting Defensive: The Celtics put up some gaudy offensive numbers last night, but this game could be more of the defensive affair the C’s generally prefer. The Bucks have not been a great offensive team in their first four games (they are tied for last in the league with the LA Clippers with 87.5 points a game) and are in the bottom fine in terms of field goal percentage, barely cracking the 40 percent mark.
What this Milwaukee team can do, however, is play defense. Scott Skiles’ bunch is in the top 10 in terms of points allowed per game—just like the Celtics. Expect the free-flowing offense we have seen from the Celtics the last two games to be dialed down a bit in this one. With both teams playing in the second night of a back-to-back, this will definitely be a grind-it-out type of game.
3) On the Right Foot: The C’s have two home games before their first true road swing of the year that starts with a tough back-to-back at Oklahoma City and Dallas on Sunday and Monday and brings about a rematch with the Heat in Miami. Oh, and it all ends with a trip to Memphis to face an improved Grizzlies team.
So it is imperative that Boston take care of its home court and win its next two games against the Bucks and the Chicago Bulls on Friday. These are two teams that are middle of the pack-type squads in the East—not quite in the juggernaut status of Miami, Orlando and Boston, but the next tier along with Atlanta. The Celtics could end up facing one of these teams in a first round playoff matchup (yeah, that is looking waaaay into the future), so it would be nice if they could show they are a cut above.
The Celtics were the second best road team in the league last season, but it is tough to hang your hat on that marker every year. In fact, it is conceivable that the C’s could drop every game on the four-game trip (let’s hope that isn’t the case). If they leave Boston with a 6-1 record, I’ll feel a lot more comfortable about going on the road than if they drop either of these two contests.