Tip: 7:30 PM Court: TD Garden Watch it: CSN Hear it: WEEI
Referees: Bill Spooner, David Jones, Violet Palmer
The Celtics took all three meetings with the Bucks last season by an average of just over 9 points a game. Rajon Rondo had a triple double (15 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) in one of those games, and averaged 13 assists a game over the three games. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Avery Bradley all took turns leading the team in scoring.
Get it to: Paul Pierce
The Captain loves to set the tone after demoralizing losses, so I expect him to be assertive early. It appears the Bucks will start 2nd year swingman Tobias Harris at small forward, although Scott Skiles isn’t tipping his hand. Harris is a far from a good defender, and fouls a lot (according to ESPN’s Insider scouting report). Pierce should have his way against Harris, Mike Dunleavy or Marquis Daniels.
Gotta stop: Monta Ellis
Ellis is the Bucks most explosive player and I expect Courtney Lee to draw the defensive assignment. The key to stopping Ellis starts with transition defense, where he excels. We’d rather have Ellis jacking up jump shots, where he’s prone to make bad decisions.
The Wild Card: Ersan Ilyasova
I’m tempted to go with Jeff Green, because, like Paul Pierce, I expect him to feast on the Harris/Dunleavy/Daniels trio. But Ilyasova averaged 18 and 12 vs Boston last season. He’s a tough, scrappy player with range. Boston cannot sleep on this guy. On the flip side, he struggles defensively on the perimeter, so watch for the Celtics to feed KG on the pick-and-pop.
How we see it goin’ down
The Bucks are in a tough spot. As if opening the season in Boston isn’t difficult enough, they get an angry and focused Celtics team looking for payback following a bad loss in Miami. The Celtics can lose this game, if they let Milwaukee run like hell or feast on the offensive boards, two areas where the Bucks excel.
The Bucks aren’t as talented as the Celtics and with the intangibles in Boston’s favor, I like the C’s to win fairly easily: