The Boston Celtics prepare to have a second go at the Milwaukee Bucks in the span of two days on Friday, as they aim to avenge their 119-121 defeat from last night's matchup between the two sides at Fiserv Forum.
The Boston Celtics trailed by 25 points at one point, but a late surge saw them cut that deficit to two with a minute and a half left to end the game. However, Celtics' big Daniel Theis missed an open three in the dying seconds as the Milwaukee Bucks held onto a win by a two-point margin to register their eighth consecutive win.
Khris Middleton was the star performer for the Milwaukee Bucks with 27 points and 14 rebounds, while Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 24 points and ten rebounds.
Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks - Prediction
The Boston Celtics have now suffered six defeats in eight games, but almost all their defeats were by relatively fine margins. However, the C's were also dealing with a few injury problems and haven't been able to field a solid lineup to play with regularly.
However, with almost all of their key players available, one can expect the Boston Celtics to put up a good fight against the surging Bucks, who are looking unbeatable at the moment. Brad Stevens' side will have to make sure they keep up with the Bucks' pace, though, as they can succumb to pressure down the stretch.
The Milwaukee Bucks, on the other hand, have been firing on all cylinders post the All-Star break. Along with the star duo of Middleton and Giannis, the likes of Jrue Holiday, Bobby Portis and the rest of the squad have also been performing at a high-level. The addition of PJ Tucker has strengthened their team as well.
The two sides will be facing off for the last time this regular season and, much like their previous meetings, this match could also be a close encounter. The Milwaukee Bucks will be the favorites, though, owing to their bench strength and the momentum they have at the moment.
Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks - Combined 5
Point Guard - Jrue Holiday | Shooting Guard - Jaylen Brown | Small Forward - Jayson Tatum | Power Forward - Giannis Antetokounmpo | Center - Brook Lopez
In our combined starting five from the available set of players for the matchup, we have chosen Jrue Holiday and Jaylen Brown as our backcourt pairing. Both players have been tremendous this season and also rank amongst the top three performers for their respective sides.
Holiday is averaging 15.8 points, 5.8 assists, and a team-high 1.8 steals per game for the Milwaukee Bucks, while Jaylen Brown is averaging 24.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game so far for the Boston Celtics. He is also one of the top contenders to win the 2020-21 NBA Most Improved Player of the Year award this season.
The Boston Celtics' Kemba Walker was also one of the leading candidates for the guard position, but his injury woes and a poor start to the campaign saw him lose the point guard spot to Jrue Holiday, who has been more consistent.
The forward positions in our combined five are occupied by All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Khris Middleton was also in contention for the small forward spot, but Tatum has put up better numbers overall in this campaign, which led to his selection as Giannis' partner in the frontcourt. Tatum is averaging a team-high 24.8 points this season compared to Middleton's 20.6 points per game.
Meanwhile, Giannis is having an MVP-caliber season yet again, which earned him the tag as an undisputed pick for our combined five for this game. He is averaging 28.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game to go with 1.3 blocks and 1.2 steals.
For the center position, the Milwaukee Bucks' big Brook Lopez gets the nod ahead of the Boston Celtics' Daniel Theis, owing to his consistent performances on both ends of the floor this season. Lopez is averaging 11.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game this season.