Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire
Can Brandon Jennings keep Rajon Rondo under wraps again this time out?Boston must dust itself right off after Friday's loss to the Philadelphia 76ers as the Celtics (2-3, 1-1 away) visit the Milwaukee Bucks (3-1, 1-1 home) on Saturday night at the Bradley Center (8:30 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:
* C'S LEANING ON YOUNG LEGS: We all know about Boston's struggles on the second night of back-to-backs in recent seasons, but the Celtics did go on the road last Saturday night coming off a loss to Milwaukee and beat the Wizards on the road. This is where Boston's youthful core absolutely has to step up and carry the load when veterans like Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry have heavy legs. The Celtics could really benefit from someone like Courtney Lee or Jeff Green snapping out of an early funk and providing a spark in a tough back-to-back situation.
* WANNA GET AWAY? The Celtics are off on a quick two-game road trip, also playing on Monday night in Chicago. While that's two tough matchups, Pierce is embracing the chance to get away from the distractions of home amid a shaky start and make some progress. "I understand that it's a process. We're only five games in. We're still building," said Pierce. "Even though we lost [Friday] and we're down, there's still some positive things that can come from that. And so, it's still a long season. We've still got to get some things together. Maybe a road trip like this one against two pretty good teams can solve it. And so we'll see."
* TRANSITION D IN FOCUS: One of Boston's biggest woes this season has been its transition defense, which the previously anemic Philadelphia offense exploited Friday night to the tune of 106 points, getting the ball up the court quickly and generating easy looks or runs to the rim against a disheveled Celtics defense. Boston prefers to force opponents to play in a half-court set and that requires getting back and matching up. "If I had to point out one thing that's a major concern for us and has been for these last five games it's probably our transition defense," said Pierce. "That's the No. 1 thing right now. When you look up and we're playing well, I think, half-court-wise. But when you give teams that many layups in transition, it's really disturbing. So, that's one thing we've got to look at the film, address that. If we can do a better job of getting back on defense, limit those easy opportunities, then we give ourselves a better chance."
* FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE: Boston players suggested that defensive woes are a direct result of failure to communicate at that end of the floor (particularly when Garnett is out of the game). "We're a defensive team that usually can score the basketball," said Garnett. "Right now we have indecision. At points we have a lack of communication." Rondo downplayed the notion, suggesting Boston has trouble spots everywhere and needs to start playing up to its potential. "It's everything. But, you know, we've got the right guys, we've got the right mindset. It's just a matter of doing it," said Rondo.
* RONDO VS. JENNINGS: Rondo dominated Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings during last year's head-to-head meetings -- something Jennings admits -- but the Bucks' young point guard came back with a dominant 21-point, 13-assist effort to spoil Boston's home-opener last week. Expect Rondo to have a little extra motivation in this rematch.