GAME PREVIEW (via STATS LLC)
The Boston Celtics have a chance at their longest winning streak of the season, while the Milwaukee Bucks are looking to bounce back after theirs was snapped.
Perimeter play could be the difference in Saturday night's matchup in Milwaukee with a pair of Celtics guards shooting well and the Bucks reeling after being torched from deep Friday.
Boston (19-30) seeks a fourth straight victory after Friday's 107-96 home win against Philadelphia. The Celtics had their lead trimmed to three with fewer than eight minutes left after leading by as many as 26.
They put together a big first half for the third straight game, outscoring the 76ers 60-42. They outscored Denver 61-51 and New York 57-44 in the first 24 minutes of back-to-back victories.
But prior to the current winning streak, Boston had been just 6-6 when scoring 55-plus in the first half.
"You see how many leads we've blown early in the season. We're kind of used to it," said Jared Sullinger, who had 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. "We know how to respond and we responded well."
Sullinger is averaging 19.3 points over the last three games.
Milwaukee (27-23) had its five-game winning streak snapped with Friday's 117-111 loss at Houston. The Bucks, who had recently notched wins against division leaders Portland and Toronto, gave up a season high-tying 15 3-pointers. The Rockets shot 50.6 percent from the field after Milwaukee had held its last three opponents to 41.9 percent or worse.
The Celtics rank in the league's bottom third with a 33.0 3-point percentage, but the Bucks have to be wary of Marcus Thornton and Avery Bradley. Thornton is 13 of 26 from deep over his last five games while Bradley is seven of 11 in his last three. Thornton is also 12 of 25 from beyond the arc in his last seven versus Milwaukee.
Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded a career high in points for the second straight game with 27 against Houston in addition to a personal-best 15 rebounds. Antetokounmpo, who scored 25 in Wednesday's win over the Lakers, is shooting 61.4 percent over his last six games after shooting 49.2 percent previously.
"The last two weeks, he's grown as a player and as a person," coach Jason Kidd said.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH (via Chris Forsberg)
• No excuses: This is one of the more daunting seconds nights of a home-road back-to-back for Boston having to travel to Wisconsin. That said, the Bucks played in Houston on Friday night, so they'll be just as weary. Boston has just one game over the next 12 days, so there can be no excuses for not digging deep with a chance for their first four-game winning streak of the season.
• Bucks in focus: The Bucks have been rolling lately. Over their past six games, they own an offensive rating of 105.6 and a 98.2 defensive rating for a plus-7.4 differential (third best in the league in that span). Milwaukee has been playing at a fast pace (97.48 possessions per 48 minutes last six games) and shooting the ball extremely well (tops in the league in effective field goal percentage). They're exploitable on the glass, which means Boston's guards have to work extra hard when the Celtics go small.
• Disrupting the balance: Over their past six games, the Bucks have seven different players averaging double figures in scoring. Milwaukee is spreading out it scoring, its rebounding, its assists. Everyone is contributing. Even old friend Jerryd Bayless is averaging 11.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4 assists over 23 minutes per game in that span.