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The Celtics and the Bucks joust for the first time this season Wednesday at TD Garden.For the first time in two weeks, the Boston Celtics (16-17, 11-8 home) return to the TD Garden as they host the Milwaukee Bucks (14-20, 6-12 away) on Wednesday evening (7:30 p.m., CSN). On the second nights of back-to-backs, we downshift from our usual three-man panel and play a quick game of 2-on-2 with colleague Greg Payne to preview the matchup.
1. Beyond it being a second night of a back-to-back, why should the Celtics be concerned about Wednesday's battle with the Bucks?
Payne: Rebounding and turnovers. The Bucks hauled in a whopping 20 offensive rebounds in their 119-118 victory over the Wizards Tuesday night, and Boston isn't a much better defensive rebounding team than Washington, at least statistically. Between Ersan Ilyasova, Drew Gooden, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, the Bucks have the personnel to give the C's fits on the glass. While Milwaukee might not be a great offensive rebounding team overall, they've shown they can exploit a team that's not assertive on the boards. In addition, the Bucks aren't afraid to break out and run, so unless the Celtics handle the ball better than they did last night (18 turnovers versus the Cavs), they could find themselves repeatedly burned in transition.
Forsberg: You took the words right out of my keyboard. The Bucks don't shoot particularly well (42.5 percent, 26th in the league), but they still average 95.3 points per game (13th best in the league) because they produce so many second-chance opportunities (and they limit their own turnovers). You can win a shootout with these guys, but these Celtics aren't exactly built to win that way, especially not on the second night of a back-to-back. Bottom line: The Celtics can't allow Mike Dunleavy to pop off the bench and chip in 28 points like he did Tuesday night when the Bucks' reserves combined for 60 points in the win over the Wizards.
2. Is the glass half-full or half-empty after that win over the Cavs?
Payne: I'm just going to say there's a half glass of water sitting on the table. There were encouraging things from last night's win, like the energy Kevin Garnett brought and Ray Allen's solid shooting night, along with the welcome return of Brandon Bass. But there were also plenty of negatives, like the fact that the C's could barely vanquish a mediocre Cavs team playing without Anderson Varejao, arguably their second-best player. In addition, the Celtics were once again guilty of too many turnovers (stop me if you've heard that one before), and Rajon Rondo had one of his worst shooting nights of the season. I was expecting this team to have figured itself out by now, but I'm not sure that it has.
Forsberg: I'll say the glass was 3/4 full in the first quarter, then someone knocked it over with an errant pass in the second frame. But don't fret, it's still half full! Yes, I'll take the optimistic approach here. A win is a win is a win. It'd have been a lot easier on the Celtics if they won that game by 20 points, but when you've lost five in a row, you just take the victory. And let's face it, style points get you absolutely nothing this season, particularly not when you have to play the very next night. It's just going to be a grind over the next two months and the bottom line might be all that matters. If the Celtics emerge with a win and their health, it's a glass half-full night.