Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks meet at 8 p.m. tonight at TD Garden.
What’s on the Line
It has been well documented that the Celtics control their own playoff destiny tonight when they take on Milwaukee. Let’s document it a bit more for you and outline the exact situation on both sides of the ball.
Boston guarantees itself the top seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs with a win tonight. That would mean that the team would own home-court advantage throughout the East Playoffs. The C’s could still secure the top seed if they lose, but they’d also need Cleveland to lose tonight at home to Toronto. The only way Boston can lose the top spot is if it loses and Cleveland wins.
Not so much is on the line for the Bucks, who enter tonight’s action locked in to the sixth seed in the East. They already know that they’ll be opening up the postseason this weekend in Toronto, which leads us to our next topic…
Who’s Not in Town
Milwaukee found out last night that it was 100 percent locked in to the sixth seed when Atlanta defeated Charlotte. But even before that result was finalized, the Bucks had already made major decisions regarding who on their team would play tonight.
The Bucks confirmed late last night, and also posted on their public game notes, that Giannis Antetokounmpo, Matthew Dellavedova, Khris Middleton and Tony Snell – three of the team’s five starters – did not even travel with the team to Boston for tonight’s game. They will rest ahead of their playoff series against Toronto.
The starting five Boston will face off against tonight will be Rashad Vaughn, Michael Beasley, Mirza Teletovic, Thon Maker and John Henson. Malcolm Brogdon, who will come off the bench, and Maker are the only full-time starter who will be playing for the Bucks.
Defending Down Low
Those players may be starting, but the most dangerous player taking part in tonight’s game for the Bucks is big man Greg Monroe. He has been a thorn in Boston’s side for a long, long time.
Monroe, who is a full-time reserve for Milwaukee, has come off the bench to average 15.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in two contests against Boston this season. Last season, in four games, he averaged 19.0 PPG and 10.5 RPG against the C’s.
Monroe may play limited minutes tonight in preparation for the Playoffs, but he’s going to see the court one way or another. When he does, Boston’s big men such as Amir Johnson, Al Horford, Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Zeller will need to be prepared to bang around with Monroe down low.
Fan Appreciation Night
As is customary for the Celtics each season, their final home game is dubbed as Fan Appreciation Night. There will be so much going on throughout the contest to thank the Celtics faithful for their support all season long.
Fan Appreciation Night begins with a sweepstakes all day on the team’s official Twitter account, @celtics. Every fan who enters the arena will also be given a fan banner, and there will be seven other giveaways throughout the game. Players will also present jerseys to a select group of season ticket members following the final buzzer.
The in-arena presentation will also revolve around Fan Appreciation Night. One of the team’s top players – we’ll leave his name as a surprise – will address the crowd at midcourt before tip-off. At halftime, there will be a special coordinated performance from all of the C’s in-arena performance teams: the Celtics Dancers, Lucky and the Dunk Team, and the Green Team. Fans will also see their favorite players on the Jumbotron thanking them for their support this season.
So what’s all of this mean for the game? Well, it means that the crowd is likely to be very rowdy – especially if the C’s play well.
Avery Bradley is finally back to his old self, as our own Taylor Snow detailed following Monday night’s win over the Brooklyn Nets. Bradley, who missed two games on March 31 and April 2 with an illness, scored 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting Monday night while also contributing five rebounds.
Brad Stevens spoke following Tuesday’s practice about what he’s seeing out of Bradley right now.
“It’s been good in the last five quarters to see Avery’s burst back,” the coach said. “He looks like he’s feeling better and better by the minute.”
That’s good news for Boston, and not-so-good news for Boston’s opponents. When he shoots the ball well, the Celtics usually win.
Oh, and Bradley and the C’s may just be seeking revenge against a team that downed them two weeks ago on their home court.