5 talking points for Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks: Can Cs get back to winning ways?

Following a close overtime loss to the Charlotte Hornets, can the Boston Celtics get back to winning ways in their clash with their fellow Eastern Conference juggernauts, the Milwaukee Bucks?
Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics - Game Seven
Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics - Game Seven / Adam Glanzman/GettyImages

1. The last three Boston Celtics games have been too close for comfort

Throughout this season the Boston Celtics have played with ruthless intensity and were regularly winning games by exceptional margins - the most notable being the 51-point win over the Indiana Pacers. However, their recent trend reveals a shift in dynamics, as their last three games were tightly contested, all decided within a margin of three points. Among these matchups was their most recent encounter which resulted in a loss to the Charlotte Hornets, signifying a potential shift in their momentum.

The last three games ended like this:

Boston Celtics 108 - 105 Toronto Raptors

Boston Celtics 102 - 100 Memphis Grizzlies

Boston Celtics 118 - 121 Charlotte Hornets

The Milwaukee Bucks are an objectively stronger side than our last three opponents and this clash is sure to be another close one. It looks inevitable that this will be a tough game for the Celtics to turn this trend around, and the stars of Beantown must elevate their performance on Wednesday night to steer the team back to their winning ways.

Can the Celtics stop this from being a close one?

2. This is a chance for some of the Boston Celtics star players to reassert their dominance against a top contender

So far this season, stars like Jayson Tatum, Kristaps Porzingis, and Derrick White have played at the top of their game with great consistency, while others have played well, but have struggled to keep their momentum from game to game. Consistency and momentum are crucial, especially when it gets to the latter end of the season, so correcting this now will save any late-season panic.

Jrue Holiday has been one of the stand-out players defensively for the Boston Celtics, averaging a career-high in blocks and rebounds per game, but his offensive game hasn't been up to his usual standard. The 14 games he has played for the Celtics have been his lowest average points per game since his rookie season, and the lowest assists per game since the 2011-12 season - could this just be down to the stellar array of offensive talent that the Celtics have?

Holiday has played every game this season and throughout the C's ' three defeats he has only managed 12 points twice and 11 points in the most recent defeat to the Hornets. Last season he averaged 19.3 points, an amount he is yet to reach this season. Although Holiday wasn't brought in to be the key offensive man, his offensive output is evidently needed if the Celtics are going to be successful this season.

Now carrying the weight of his recent $304 million dollar extension, Jaylen Brown has been under scrutiny on multiple occasions this season from both NBA fans and the media alike due to inconsistent performances. It's easy to point the finger when on the losing side, especially with such an extravagant contract always being at the forefront of conversation, but supporting Brown is essential in these moments.

Let's not forget how good Brown is, and has been throughout multiple games this season. Yes, the consistency isn't always there, but don't let that cloud the memory of his performances against the Washington Wizards, the Brooklyn Nets, and the Toronto Raptors. So, we can either criticize Brown after every below-average performance, or we can support him through both the good and bad ones - I'm personally going with the latter on this one.

I still believe that trading for Holiday was the right decision and that he is the right man for the job. I also believe that Brown is still the All-Star that we have come to love, but there is still room for them both to improve. With the eyes of the NBA world fixated on this game, it's the perfect chance for the stars of Beantown to step up and prove the criticisms are nothing but an overreaction.

3. Two out of the three losses have been without the assistance of Derrick White -- will he be back on Wednesday night?

Derrick White has truly cemented himself as one of the most important parts of this Boston Celtics side this season.

I could easily leave it at that, but this is definitely worth talking about. The Boston Celtics have only suffered three defeats this season against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Philadelphia 76ers, and most recently, the Charlotte Hornets. Two of the three losses came without the help of the All-Defensive guard, who has been exceptional defensively throughout the start of the season. When paired with his fellow All-Defensive guard Holiday, the duo looks impenetrable.

As well as averaging 0.8 SPG and 0.9 BPG this year, White is having his second-best assisting season, his third-best scoring season, and has been scoring crucial buckets for the Celtics - like the late 3-pointer to take the lead against the Toronto Raptors.

Although Tatum is undoubtedly the face of the Boston Celtics right now, White is looking like the glue that holds it all together. When the Celtics are playing with White on the court, they look capable of beating any team in the league, and his return to the starting lineup cannot come quickly enough.

4. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been his usual dominant self this season and the Boston Celtics need to figure out how to stop him.

The Bucks made a huge move in the summer to acquire Damian Lillard from the Portland Trailblazers, but we all know who the biggest threat in Milwaukee is.

With his performances this season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been showing the NBA world what they already knew, and that is the reasons why he is a two-time MVP, a one-time champion, and has already secured his name in the MVP conversation this season. Not many teams possess the capabilities to stop a player of this caliber, do the Celtics?

The Celtics are going to have to find a way to either stop Giannis or at least slow him down - which hasn't happened much this season. However, the Celtics have held their own when facing the Greek Freak as they hold an even 16-16 record throughout their 32 encounters. They are certainly capable of making it 17-16 against Giannis on Wednesday night - if they figure out how to slow him down that is.

Who from the Celtics would you have guarding Giannis on Wednesday night? Is Tatum up for the challenge? Is Porzingis? Is Horford? It's hard to predict who Joe Mazzulla might trust with the defensive duties of such a physical and dominant player. Regardless of who is tasked with the defensive assignment, slowing down Giannis is a must if the Celtics are to get back to winning ways.

5. Damian Lillard is beginning to find his feet in Milwaukee, can the Boston Celtics backcourt put a stop to his momentum?

The start to Damian Lillard's career in Milwaukee has been a bit 50/50 with his FG% being the lowest of his career so far, his 3P% the second lowest, and his defense being the worst of his career. Even with these percentages being below Lillards high standards, he has had some stand-out performances, reminding everyone that he is still one of the best guards in the league.

If White is to return to action for this game, then Lillard stands with the challenge of an All-Defensive backcourt duo standing in his way. When White and Holiday are on the court together, opposing guards have had a tough time getting any offensive momentum going, and I hope to see the same for this clash.

Throughout his career, Lillard has a 9W-10L record when facing the Boston Celtics and has been held below his scoring average during those meetings.

Lillard career stats: 25.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 6.7 APG, 1 SPG, 43.9% from the field, and 37.2% from beyond the arc.

Lillard vs. Celtics stats: 22.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 7.2 APG, 0.6 SPG, 39.3% from the field, and 31% from beyond the arc.

This is the first time that Lillard has played the Celtics while representing the Milwaukee Bucks, so the challenge is a bit different this time, but the task remains the same - Beat. The. Bucks.

Can the Celtics make it 11W-9L when facing Lillard?

This has all the makings of an instantly classic encounter between these two Eastern Conference heavyweights. Can the Celtics find a way to stop the second highest scoring duo in the NBA so far this season? I sure hope so. This one is not to be missed.