Apr 26 2012; Boston, MA USA; Boston Celtics shooting guard Avery Bradley (0) shoots the ball against Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders (8) in the second half at the TD Banknorth Garden. The Celtics defeated the Bucks 87-74. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE
The Milwaukee Bucks are a team that traditionally gives the Celtics trouble. Over each team’s lifespan they’ve played 188 games against each other. The Celtics have a 97-91 lifetime record vs. the Bucks counting the postseason. The Bucks have never been an easy opponent for the Celtics.
Over the last few seasons, the Celtics have been largely dominant. They’ve had a few close calls with those guys, but are 8-2 in their last 10. These two teams are very similar because of the defensive emphasis that they’ve placed on their personnel but they’ve gone in totally different directions.
That will show in this team comparison as well. These teams have a large discrepancy in talent and it shows. With how deep of a team the Celtics are it isn’t even close.
Position by position analysis
Point Guard: Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jamar Smith vs. Brandon Jennings, Beno Udrih, and Orien Greene
Rajon Rondo is an All-Star player an has been for the passed three years. There’s no question that he’s the best player out of this group of guys that we’re comparing here. He led the league in assists last season with 11.7 assists per game while also averaging 11.2 points and shooting 44% from the field.
That 44% is something that Jennings hasn’t even come close to in his career.
Brandon Jennings has proven to be an inefficient shot taker throughout his career. He’s only shot over 40% one time in his career and that was last season. Before that his percentages were all in the 30’s. Last season it was a lowly 41.8%. Check out this basketball reference chart of his career numbers below.
As you can see, Jennings numbers aren’t very inspiring. As the starting point guard of a team, if you’re going to be score first you have to at least be efficient. That’s something that Jennings has managed to avoid doing and it has been costly to his team for the last few years.
Backup point guard is where this gets tricky. Beno Udrih has been a very serviceable point guard throughout his career. On the Celtics end, we haven’t really seen much of Avery Bradley at the point guard position. Doc doesn’t seem to have very much trust in him running the team unless he has to.
More often than not, when Rondo is out Paul Pierce takes over the workload of handling the ball and initiating the offense. With Jamar Smith behind Bradley, the Celtics really have nothing backing Rondo up.
Orien Greene isn’t a very good back up either but he’s great defensively. He’s got nice size, unlike all of the C’s point guards, and can guard the two position as well.
I’d say that this ends up being a wash in the end.
Shooting Guard: Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Jason Terry vs. Monta Ellis, Doron Lamb, and Mike Dunleavy
Avery Bradley is a defensive monster. He’s able to guard on and off of the ball and that’s such a valuable skill to have. Not many players–especially at his size–can do that. Though he didn’t finish the year out in the playoffs, he had a pretty productive season. He ended up taking that starting role from Ray Allen and the rest is history.
As a duo, he and Rondo function very well with each other. Bradley moves very well off of the ball and is very fast. His corner three is a dangerous shot when left open and he knows when and when not to cut to the basket.
Monta Ellis, on the other hand, is a player who can score in all types of ways. Unlike Bradley, he’s got a jumper even when he’s on the move. He knows how to be a playmaker for his team and also how to wait until a play is made for him.
He moves off of the ball like a snake and can break anyone down off the dribble when catching it. He’s a 20 point per game scorer in the NBA and those are extremely hard to come by.
Backing Bradley up is Courtney Lee, who shot 40% from beyond the arch last season. His goal is to bring what Ray Allen brought to the Celtics for all of these years and be a spot up shooter for the C’s. They’ll need to be able to spread the floor for Rondo to go to work.
The Bucks have a spot up shooter behind Ellis as well in Mike Dunleavy. Coming off of his 9th season, Dunleavy is shooting 40% from beyond the arch as well. That’s an awesome asset to have if you’re either one of these teams.
Jason Terry is another one of the Celtics starting caliber shooting guards. They went from being a team that had no depth at shooting guard to going three or four deep depending on a few other players. They’ve got options and Terry is a great one.
He’s a very good ball handler and he always has been–he ran the point for Atlanta years ago if you all remember correctly. Terry is good at the pick and roll game as well. He’s good as the screener, especially for his size, and as the ball handler, too. A very versatile player to have in your lineup, no doubt.
As their third off guard, the Bucks have Doron Lamb. Lamb is a rookie coming off of a national championship season with Kentucky. At Kentucky he was a player that was very versatile. He could run the point, create for himself and others, and play off of the ball. This is why the Bucks drafted him.
He’s got a lot of potential, but we don’t really know what he’ll bring to the table as an NBA guard. It looks like a good pick on the surface but it may not be.
We know that the Celtics have three starting caliber shooting guards in their possession. That’s way more than the Bucks have to offer here so we’re going with the Celtics.
Small Forward: Paul Pierce, Dionte Christmas, Kris Joseph vs. Luc Mbah a Moute and Marquis Daniels
The Celtics Paul Pierce is one of the most versatile forwards in the game. He’s one of the most reliable guys in the NBA and knows how to get his own shot. His production didn’t fall off a bit last year as he averaged 19.4 points per game on 44% shooting last season.
He can still, even at the age of 34, create his own shot. He knows how to work the elbow masterfully and still draws fouls as if he were 24. Pierces is still a top 25 player in the NBA>
Dionte Christmas and Kris Joseph, on the other hand, aren’t really ready for the NBA game just yet. I think that they both may end up in the D League before the season starts. We don’t know how much consistency either one will give and if they’ll even be good defenders in the NBA.
On the other end, we have Luc Richard Mbah a Moute who is one of the best defenders in the NBA and Marquis Daniels who is more than serviceable here. You can put each of them on any wing in the league and you’ll see a dip in the production of the opposing players.
I’m going with the Bucks here.
Power Forward: Brandon Bass and Jeff Green vs. Ersan Illyasova, Tobias Harris, John Henson and Drew Gooden.
Brandon Bass and Jeff Green are going to play the role of the stretch four for the Celtics this season. I don’t know how good Green will be necessarily, but if he can get anywhere close to his sophomore season production of 16.5 points per game the Celtics will be okay.
We know what we’re getting in Bass. He does all of the little things well. These include rebounding, boxing out, defending, rim protecting, and one on one defense. You name it and Bass will do it. No, he’s not the best at anything but he’s good at everything.
One thing that Bass is really good at is shooting the midrange jumper. He shot 48 percent from that range last season and was deadly in PnR with Rondo. That’s an element that many teams don’t have and that’s what makes Bass invaluable to the Celtics.
On the Bucks end, they have a very nice stretch four of their own in Ersan Illyasova. He shot 45 percent from deep last year while pulling in 8.8 rebounds per game. Illyasova is one of the best offensive rebounders in the NBA as well. If you aren’t boxing him out he’s getting the board. Its that simple. Think of him as a poor man’s Kevin Love.
Behind him there isn’t really anything but potential. You’ve got John Henson who could be molded into a Serge Ibaka type player. He has the ability to stretch the floor and also block shots with his length at 6-10. He’s unbelievable athletically.
You’ve got Tobias Harris there also who’s a very good hustle player. He brings a lot of what Henson brings with length and defensive ability.
Last, but not least, you’ve got Drew Gooden. He’s a good rebounder and rim protector, but he sometimes gets carried away with his jumpshot. He struggles to finish on the inside an at the rim.
With that being said, I’m going with the Celtics forwards here. What they don’t have in numbers they make up for in skill. They’ve got very skilled power forwards who can play either the three or the four position depending on what lineup they’re in.
Center: Kevin Garnett, Fab Melo, Chris Wilcox, and Darko Milicic vs. Joel Pryzbilla, Samuel Dalembert, and Ekpe Udoh
Kevin Garnett moved to the center position last year and averaged 15 and 8. Him moving to the center position was pivotal for the Celtics because of the way that they spread the floor with him. Like Bass, he shot 48% from 16-23 feet last year. He was also in the running for defensive player of the year.
We don’t know what they have in Fab Melo, but Darko Milicic will provide some height and some fouls for the Celtics. The same can be said for Chris Wilcox.
The Bucks have Samuel Dalembert who is an expert at rim protection but offers very little offensively. That’s their best threat at center. Joel Pryzbilla is going to be someone who’s going to be a body for them as well. He’s got height to work with and is an average rim protector.
I’m going with the C’s here.
The comparison between Doc Rivers and Scott Skiles is a pretty good one. They’re both great coaches, and have been good players, in their lifetime. Their basketball IQs are through the roof, really. Its just that one has a title and the other one doesn’t.
Skiles is a coach that’s going to preach defense to his team up and down. If you aren’t defending then you aren’t staying on the floor. His teams have been in the top 10 defensively for the passed three years aside from this last season. He’s always been a good teach of defense.
Skiles one downfall is that he isn’t very creative offensively. That’s pretty weird seeing as though Skiles was a point guard in his NBA career and has the record for assists in a game. There is really no reason why he shouldn’t know how to put together a solid offense.
Rivers preaches defense also, but is a better teacher than Skiles. He brings teams together and motivates them to work collectively as a unit. He has all of his players–high rank or low–believing that if they fail individually then they fail as a team. Everyone is accountable for each other.
That’s something that Skiles hasn’t been able to do yet and Rivers has a championship to show for it.
With that being said, I’m going with Rivers here.
The Celtics and the Bucks aren’t very similar at all. The Celtics have a lot more talent than the Bucks do and the coaching is a lot better there as well. The Celtics are a team that’s united as one while the Bucks are a team that’s just finding out how to pass the ball.
The Celtics are clearly the better team here, by far. They have three ECF appearances and a championship to show for it.