The Boston Celtics may have been fatigued from back to back games, or maybe they thought the game was going to be easy and the 2-13 Milwaukee Bucks would just hand them the win. Whatever the case may be, the Celtics did not seem fully prepared to take on the Bucks. Boston attempted a fourth-quarter comeback, but were not able to make any strong runs and fell short 92-85. The defense was not able to slow down O.J. Mayo, who scored 22 points.
The Celtics ultimately beat themselves with poor shot selection and lack of hustle. They were seduced by their tremendous shooting performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. In that game, Boston shot 50 percent from the field. Every shot was going the Celtics’ way, and threes were launched all over the court. It seems as if this team fell too much in love with the three against the Bucks.
The Celtics failed to establish an inside game. Early buckets by Jared Sullinger and Vitor Faverani inside looked promising, but for some reason, the Celtics went away from those solid looks in the paint and decided that putting up ridiculous, inefficient shots would be better. The Celtics ended up hitting 4-of-19 3-pointers.
No one wanted to get to the rim and challenge Milwaukee’s big men. Even Sullinger, who scored most of his 21 points inside, shot five 3-pointers. Unfortunately, he only made one. It was a dismal shooting night for the Celtics. It was the kind of game in which the effects of Rajon Rondo’s absence was evident.
Jordan Crawford has been terrific, but he is not good enough to lead the offense in every single game. Having a true point guard like Rondo enables more offensive opportunity.
The Celtics’ defense and lack of hustle was a concern. There were too many fouls by key players like Avery Bradley, Sullinger, and Crawford. Most of them were dumb, reaching fouls that were 20 feet from the basket. The Celtics’ defense allowed the Bucks to capitalize on 3-point shooting, which is one of the few strengths that Milwaukee possesses. The Bucks shot 47 percent from beyond the arc and it seemed like whenever the Celtics were on a verge to make a run, the Bucks would hit a dagger from behind the 3-point line.
It was not a terrible night for the Boston defense, but it seemed to collapse at the most inopportune times. The Bucks also killed the Celtics on the offensive boards at unfortunate times of the game. Boston was outplayed on every single loose ball.
All in all, it was an ugly performance by the Celtics. However, there is a chance to redeem themselves Monday night. The Bucks are coming to town for another game. Brad Stevens needs to do a much better job preparing this team to avoid repeating mistakes. It would be embarrassing to be 0-3 against the Bucks. A better shot selection and more aggressiveness in the paint will be crucial for next game.